Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Explosions in the deep: how Daniel Kereopa survived Papatowai

Photo: photomarkstevenson.com

Remember that explosion of a wave at Papatowai back in 2006? We'd almost forgotten... until we were reminded by the latest issue of free surf magazine Smorgasboarder, which is dedicated to surf travel and includes a feature on surfing big waves in Dunedin. As you know the whole deep south of the South Island is wave rich, especially the Catlin's Papatowai—a break exposed to the full force of the Southern Ocean. This right-hand reef break has a massive steep ledge takeoff, followed by a 300 meter ride that starts working at 10ft and can easily reach 30ft plus.

After the Smorgasboarder team had contacted us about being in the magazine, we thought of that nutty wave. For it was at Papatowai back in 2006 that Daniel Kereopa—then sponsored by Seventhwave—stroked into what was called 'New Zealand's biggest paddle-in wave', earning him the cover of Kiwi Surf and the Oakley/ASL $25,000 Big Wave Award (for non-jetski assist). "I just paddled and paddled, it didn't let me in that easy as the wind was offshore" recalles Daniel about his 42ft (13m) wave. "I got over the ledge and felt the board go and held my line. That was definitely one of the best surfing days I've ever experienced." 

Captured by numerous photographers, none better than Mark Stevenson who was shooting from the water for a number of hours, had the best position and  the angle for the bomb wave. It was an incredible day. It was world-class and as good as [Hawaii's] Waimea Bay when it's been pumping.

Daniel had been out in snow-lined, 7-8˚C waters for over 7 hours. How did he survive? In one of our early MAX models, built with an attached hood for the occasion. We thought we'd give Dan a call after all these years to ask him how his MAX fared:

“That day was the first time I put on my purpose-built MAX and nerves were running high. I'd chosen red for safety, just in case I'd die or something (laughs). With attached hood, gloves and booties—and the adrenaline pumping—I didn't feel the cold at all. I was out paddling for over 7 hours. The custom-fit meant I wasn't restricted at all, allowing me to paddle into the bigger ones. In fact I still wear that wetsuit today on the really cold days: that's the mark of a quality wetsuit.”

The MAX was put through its paces in some of the hardest conditions around, and passed with flying colours. Since then we've tinkered and tailored the hooded MAX into the trusty model it is today, including the versatile interchangeable hood option.

MAX 4/3 with interchangeable hood. click here for more info

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