Surfing mountains

Mountain of Water: Buderim's Mark Visser takes on one of the 'beasts' during his Western Australian surfing film adventure. Photo:Contributed
Mountain of Water: Buderim's Mark Visser takes on one of the 'beasts' during his Western Australian surfing film adventure. Photo:Contributed
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It's not the height of this wave that's the challenge for those who surf mountains, it's the pitch of the lip that throws out as far as it stands high.

Buderim's Mark Visser surfs waves of bigger height across the globe, but this one off Western Australia's south coast gives him butterflies.

"Surfing it on my backhand was really intimidating,'' Visser said on Friday after returning from three days surfing the beast to provide footage for Brook Sylvester's Free Surfer movie.

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"It's out to sea a bit and the swell just comes out of deep water and hits this underwater rock. It goes from deep water to almost dry.

"When you get smashed you get driven very deep. The sheer volume of it is so intense that even Koby Abberton thought he was going to drown."

Solid sponsorship means that Visser now keeps a Hosted Continuity jetski at Margaret River for his hit and run missions on WA's big south swells with others on the east coast, in Tahiti and Hawaii.

The movie will take him and others like him who surf the world's biggest waves for a living to 18 different breaks each of which has been set a minimum wave heights.

It sounds like a dream life but as Visser points out, it is work.

Sponsors don't keep putting their money down for airline tickets and boat costs unless you are the surfer who catches the wave that makes the cut and finds its way into a movie or surf magazine photo spread.

The Western Australian adventure meant spending three days from 6am to 6pm in cold water trying to get deeper under the jaws of a beast of a wave Visser describes as a "death slab" to give the film director the footage he needed.

"Everyone's money is on the line,'' he said.

"You need to make sure you nail waves they can use. It's a business and I'm working for a living. It's pretty full on.''

Visser, who trains hard and is comfortable in a heaving ocean environment that would have most surfers looking for somewhere safe, dry and warm to watch the action, admitted to finding the wave a difficult challenge.

"I had butterflies,'' he admitted. "I was prepared to go for it but I wasn't as comfortable as I usually feel. I was out of my comfort zone.''

The other surfers in the group with him were all natural footers (face to the right hand break) while Visser, on his backhand was forced to commit to different lines down the face.

He is now back home to wait for the next big swell call or for a date to be set for the world big wave challenge in Chile.

Mark Visser big wave surfing

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