Watching Dave Otto’s latest footage “The Originals” from Shipsterns Bluff in Tasmania is like watching a horror movie. Monster waves don’t just break against the headland, they mutate into bizarre surfer-eater shapes.
At first, it’s all fun and games. Pros are in control getting barreled in huge tubes. A surfer holds a glory pose while throwing back a beer. Then, it all changes. Ledges appear on the wave face from nowhere. Whirlpools form beneath surfers’ boards and suck them into their vortex.
Giant swell is no stranger at Shipsterns. The bluff was originally called Devil’s Point because it juts out from the remote, unpopulated southeastern coast of Tasmania, and it takes sub-polar storms originating in Antarctica on the chin.
Hapless victims and near misses keep the tension high throughout the footage. Surfers that do manage to escape get deep into the tube and hit the stairstep ledges that form on the wave face early. Those that get rag-dolled hit a late ledge while they’re going top speed near the bottom of the wave.
Pros like Kelly Slater and Tasmanian local Marti Paradisis slay these beasts, but with all the carnage you start getting the feeling that someone’s not going to make it. The waves seem too gnarly, too raw, and too strong.
Then you see the horror movie ending.