Big wave surfers coming to our shores

BY PAIGE HAREB
Last updated 05:00 12/07/2009

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The Discovery Channel and two of the world's most famous surfers are about to put New Zealand on the big wave surfing map.

New Zealand or more specifically some recently discovered huge waves off the bottom of the South Island has been chosen as the country to feature in the sequel to the phenomenally successful Discovery Channel documentary, Storm Surfers I.

Storm Surfers 2 New Zealand will star former world champion Tom Carroll and his sidekick, Ross Clarke-Jones, who are hailed as two of the best tow-in big wave riders in the world. Filming begins this month with the Australian pair due in the country any day.

You can't understate how big this is.

Since the advent of jet skis towing surfers in, big wave surfing has gone to unimaginable levels in terms of the giant waves being sought out around the globe.

Disney's The Discovery Channel saw how compelling the content could be of man trying to overcome the ocean at its more brutal and joined with Red Bull to make Storm Surfers I to critical acclaim.

Some readers may even recall a recent 60 Minutes item on TV3 of Tom and Ross conquering an amazing big wave reef, kilometers off the tip of Tasmania.

New Zealand has only recently come onto the radar of the international big wave surfing elite.

One of my mentors, the World Masters Champion Gary "Kong" Elkerton, did a reconnaissance trip to the Caitlins and Milford Sound and was blown away by the set-ups down there.

"You've got those powerful southern storms coming out of the Antarctic and if the swell period and winds are right, there are big wave spots down there the equal of some of the best in the world," said Kong, who harbours aspirations to create a New Zealand v Aussie trans-Tasman big wave contest.

Kong talks in awe in particular of one wave that local fishermen described as "Hawaii Five-0" because it broke exactly like the famous wave at the start of the TV show.

One Kiwi big wave ace who knows exactly where to find that wave is Doug Young, whose local experience and pure ability will be called upon by Tom and Ross while they are here.

Doug heads a band of Kiwi big wave riders who are well regarded by the elite guys. Along with the likes of Shaun Dickson and Kyle Davidson, these Kiwis mix with the best at places like "Jaws" off Maui, "Mavericks" in northern California and "Shipsterns" off the coast of Tamania.

Tom and Ross will be trailing new GPS and impact technologies to seek out the best possible waves this month. Those who are familiar with their antics in Storm Surfers I can expect a similar approach in New Zealand.

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The pair have got a little of the Jackass TV series spirit about them and I am told there are plans to attempt to tow-in to a 1220m ski slope on their big-wave boards, search for dinosaurs in remote Fiordland and hunt a pig for a traditional hangi.

Can't wait to see your work, guys! And I'm keen to give that tow-in stuff a go myself.

- Sunday News

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