Way down under in New Caledonia a pumping swell, with perfect wind direction, hit the shores of this small island that sits off the Australian East Coast. It was the storm of the decade and it happened just a week ago. A few pictures spread across the social media interface like wildfire and we couldn’t help but notice how incredible the combination of the shots were with the seriously late smacks that the guys were performing on such massive gnarly lips. We caught up with both the cameraman, Gill Chabaud, and one of the guys charging out there, none other than freestyle legend (2002 King of the Lake) Colin Sifferlen, to here the story from their side.
…the waves just kept getting bigger and bigger, sometimes the boat was so close to the shoulder of the biggest sets that I thought they would drop right over the falls!
Gill Chabaud – The Photographer
This session was dedicate to Captain (the boat pilot) and his dog Volka. This was a huge session at Tenia and my favourite picture has to be the one of Colin launching into a massive aerial right in front of a heavy critical section. It was a full on balls to the walls hit and the photo really engages the viewer into how risky it is to be where Colin is.
It was about 3 months since I had last windsurfed and I had just received my new Gaastra sails, boom and mast on Saturday. The forecast was looking big but not as big as it finally was when we arrived at the spot!
We were 4 guys on Benjamin Bard’s boat, plus the local photographer Gill Chabaud. We sailed with Benji for about one hour alone, then Damien and Brice joined us. Only 4 guys on a wave that was almost the same length as Ponta Preta! Later 3 kiters and 3 more windsurfers arrived, but there were waves for everybody, it was just off the scale!
The waves were big but not perfectly clean as it can be sometimes, so it was a job of selecting the big ones, but not the first one of the set which was always more choppy. At the beginning of the session I throw couples of airs, until that air I did in the down bowl were I hit the lip and started to rotate backward…! Once in the air I said to myself let’s make it into a back loop, before I knew it I rotated my first air backloop ever! Not really landed, but full rotation!!!
I was praying that Gill got the sequence of that one. As soon as the thought entered my head I got pounded by a super heavy lip and had to swim for 20 minutes! I couldn’t see my equipment any more and I was swimming in a sort of giant spa-pool (but not a relaxing one). It was created by the meeting of the lagoon chop against the incoming current of the big sets, a pretty sick place to be, you feel totally alone there I tell you, you’re on the top of the deep blue. I was doing signs with my arms for couple of minutes before Gill, Dam and Brice arrived with the boat. My equiment was 300 meters down wind, I was really hoping it was still in one piece, sick current!!!
After that swimming session I decided to make more turns instead of going big and potentially breaking my new gear. But the waves just kept getting bigger and bigger, sometimes the boat was so close to the shoulder of the biggest sets that I thought they would drop right over the falls!
It was a hard but sick session, so good to windsurf again!
If you fancy checking out more then be sure to view our gallery below or head on over to Gill Chabaud website and facebook page:
6732 / 7335 / 7385 – CAPTAIN
6702 / 6748 / 6772 / 6913 / 7011 / 7016 / 7115 / 7527 and the aerial sequence – Colin
7452 / 6965 / 6961 Damien
All other photos – Brice