X Games

A Big Wave Surfing History

15 of 18

Mark Mathews, Shipstern Bluff, Tasmania

Photograph By Andrew Chisholm/A-Frame

If Laird Hamilton is responsible for introducing the idea of riding thick, compact "slab" waves over inches of reef, what the boys in Australia are doing is like a mutant spinoff. Testing limits in conditions that were never meant to be surfed, guys like Mark Mathews (pictured) have no qualms about getting beaten down to within an inch of their lives. Waves like Cyclopes and The Right in Western Australia, Ours nears Sydney, and Shipstern Bluff in Tasmania aren't big wave surfing in the traditional sense, but it's hard to imagine anything being more dangerous.