Justin Holland Rides, Perhaps, the Biggest Wave in Aussie History – and Pays Dearly.
by Chris Dixon
Australian Surfer Justin Holland rides into Australian history. Screen grab from Mysurf.tv.
Over the last several years, I’ve been fortunate to be among the journos, photogs and big wave surfers who judge what are today known as the WSL Big Wave Awards. We’re the crew who, like it or not, decide whether a wave is worthy of status in the Guinness Book of World Records. One thing’s for sure though, when this year’s judging panel convenes in the spring of 2016, I’m looking damn forward to trying to measure this beastly wave surfed last Saturday by an Australian charger and standup paddleboard champion named Justin Holland. He was towed into this monster at a spot called Cow Bombie off the coast of Western Austrlia. It’s being called the biggest wave ever ridden in Australia. I’d have to agree. Hell, it looks like one of the bigger waves ever ridden anywhere.
The wave was created by a once-in-a-decade storm (strange how common such storms seem to be nowadays) that blasted through the roaring forties off Antarctica and sent the giant swell towards Western Australia. But Holland’s ride was not without serious consequence. When the wave fell from the sky and impacted behind him, he was still strapped into his surfboard. In an instant of obliteration, the wave drove Holland down deep and shattered his femur. Had he not been wearing an inflateable wetsuit, and had his friend Jamie Mitchell, one of the best paddle-in surfers in the business today, not roared in quickly for a ski-assisted rescue, Holland would have left behind a wife and two kids.
Were it not for inflateable wetsuits and brave friends, his wife would be a widow. Screen grab from Mysurf.tv.
He described to Australian Radio the nightmare of his ragdoll rescue: “I’m laying facedown holding onto the sled and he’s full-throttle out of there and I am just getting slapped up and down,” he said. “I was screaming for him to stop. It felt like someone was bashing me with a sledgehammer. And we got told as we got out that if he had stopped we all would have got mowed under the white water.”
Impressive. Most impressive indeed.
Here’s a gorgeous and hairball video edit from Mysurf.tv. The paddle-in surfing is not to be believed.