Surfing Rivals In Chase For El Nino’s 100-Foot Wave
Billabong Odyssey Preparations Underway for Australian Expedition
NEWPORT BEACH, CA- The Billabong Odyssey and its global quest to find and ride a 100-foot wave is NOT taking a summer break.With an El Nino weather pattern now developing and intense winter storm activity approaching its annual peak in the Southern Hemisphere, the world’s best big wave riders are heading Down Under to train for action and share the latest in high surf rescue techniques.
The Billabong Odyssey’s latest expedition comes on the heels of a controversial 12-page article in the July issue of Vanity Fair magazine.For the color layout, legendary celebrity photographer Mark Seliger captured the visual essence of Odyssey surfers Mike “Snips” Parsons, Brad “Gerr” Gerlach, Darryl “Flea” Virostko, Shawn “Barney” Barron, Ken “Skindog” Collins andJosh Loya.
The story, by Evgenia Peretz, chronicles the amazing recent history of big wave surfing since the introduction of jet-powered watercraft and examines the growing rivalries and rock-star lifestyles of some the best in the business. “I admit I was frightened,” said Peretz of her time hanging out with the high surf hellmen.
According to Seliger, Rolling Stone’s chief photographer for 15 years, the Billabong Odyssey surfers brought a larger-than-life presence to the three-day shoot. “You’re hanging out with extremely passionate but supercool athletes,” Seliger recounts in Vanity Fair’s Contributors page. “They’re like the guys from Ridgemont High grown up and sophisticated.”
The Australian training sessions will begin in July and will bring together the current Billabong Odyssey team with a new group of big-wave legends from the Southern Hemisphere. The gathering will mark a new phase in the Odyssey’s ongoing efforts to advance the safety and adventure of bigwave exploration-a newly adjusted format will now provide for multiple expeditions at various surf destinations around the globe at the same time.
“This will allow us to take maximum advantage of the brewing El Nino condition,” said Billabong Odyssey project director Bill Sharp. “The National Weather Service has just confirmed a strengthening El Nino, and El Nino means huge waves. That’s exactly what we want to hear.”
Over the last six months, the Billabong Odyssey team has experienced an unprecedented array of big-wave adventures at places like Jaws on Maui, Northern California’s Mavericks, Washington’s notorious Cape Disappointment, Mexico’s Todos Santos Island, offshore breaks in Spain and France, and the deadly reefs of Teahupo’o in Tahiti.
The best moments of those journeys are depicted in a feature-film documentary set to hit theaters this fall. Produced by New York-based Arenaplex films, “The Billabong Odyssey” is among the very first documentaries to be shot digitally with the next generation of Sony 24P cameras.
Even veteran surfer Mike Parsons is surprised by the footage and its fresh angles of some of the biggest surf ever photographed. “It’s been saidthat ‘Only a surfer knows the feeling'” said Parsons. “But when you see these rides on the big screen I think just about anyone will get the idea.”
For more information about the Billabong Odyssey log onto the event and film websites at www.billabongodyssey.com. The July issue of Vanity Fair magazine is on newsstands nationwide.