Professional surfing is in the midst of it’s Australian leg. Translation: There are contests going on all over the place on that lovely continent down under, and let’s not forget it is just that; a continent. According to www.dictionary.com, a continent is one of the main land masses of the globe. That being said, it’s pretty safe to assume Australia’s a pretty big place, it is the only country in the world that occupies an entire continent you know.
Step in Chris Ward. While his peers for the past five years on the ASP World Tour, aka the Dream Tour, got ready to surf Snapper Rocks and Bells Beach for the first two contests of the season, he was stuck surfing qualifying events in an effort to get back into the dream. This would take him from Newcastle on the country’s east coast, to Margret’s River on the west coast, to Tazmania off the southeast coast. These places are pretty spread out, and if you’re not familiar with Australia, there’s a whole lot of nothing in between. The nothingness is called the Nullarbor, pretty much a big desert.
In typical unpredictable Wardo style, who one month ago caused a big scene in Morro Bay which resulted in a capsized Coast Guard rescue boat, he decided to drive from the east coast of the Australia to the west coast, and back, and not tell anyone. A feat that only 1% of Australians ever do. He did it in a rental car, and brought his girlfriend along for the ride, who was just getting over her near drowning in the above mention boat incident. The transcontinental drive is thought of as pretty crazy, but doable. What makes what Wardo did so nuts is the amount of time he did it in; from the East coast to the West Coast in 30 hours. Not to mention he went straight into professional surfing contests along the way, and told his sponsors nothing.
I’ll let …LOST, Wardo’s main sponsor pick it up from here, they’ve been in contact with the ever-so-elusive surf character:
Now when most WQS warriors travel to Australia for the events in late February and March, (most)travel by plane from event to event. This year ALPHA team rider Chris Ward decided that to make things interesting he would drive the Nullabar across Australia. Remember he is “the most interesting surfer”. So unlike most surfers, who upon losing at Newcastle, drive back to Sydney and hop a flight across the Continent to Perth. Then do the 3 hour drive down to Margies. Chris decided to drive himself and his girlfriend across probably the scariest zone of OZ. Aside from being stuck in the middle of Africa.
He arrives in Margarets with just enough time to surf his heat. When OCCY was interviewed in the competitors area about this feat, he absolutely could not believe that WARDO actually drove it. We’re talking only 1% of all Australians have even done this. Imagine losing a heat at HB, then jumping in your car and driving to Florida for another WQS. Then and this is when it gets even better, the rent-a-car company told Chris to leave it in WEST OZ it would be 6,000 Aus dollars. He immediately hung up the phone, looked at his girlfriend and told her to pack, and headed towards Tasmania where the next event was. Now he’s got three days to make it to the 16 hour ferry to Tazzy. 3 days for a 4 day drive. Did he make it?
Fast forward 3 days and the boys are down at the event wondering if Ward will make it. Mason surfed early and the boys go back to the hotel. Later in the day they go back down to the contest site and who do they see parked way up the lot all alone with his odometer 6000 Km’s further along, and his girlfriend and co-pilot. He makes it and wins his heat with about 2 hours to spare. He gets a result and why not, drives back to Sydney where he drops off the Rent-a-car and flies home. Just another adventure with Mr. Ward.
Total Km’s driven 7400. This translates into about 4600 miles or so altogether.
Here are some facts about the Nullarbor according to Astraliantraveller.com – Foot to the floor, it can be done in less than 24 hours – but that’s foolhardy in the extreme. Allowing yourself anywhere from five to ten days is best for really embracing the wide expanse, occasional low spinifex and straight, straight bitumen. (Ward did it in 30 hrs or less only stopping on the side of the road periodically to sleep).
The Plain itself covers around 200,000km, and is gutted east to west by the ramrod straight Eyre Highway, which begins at the WA end at Norseman and terminates almost 1700km later in SA’s Port Augusta. In between, you’ll find only a few things to disrupt your train of thought as you drive. These include: the world’s longest straight bit of road (the 90 Mile Straight, 146.6km between Caiguna and Balladonia); giant semitrailers intent on sweeping you into the roadside gravel if you’re not careful; hundreds of feral camels (of which a handful are almost certain to stray out of the darkness into your path); ditto Big Red ‘roos; a roadhouse or two; tourists (probably German) on bikes; and dozens of shimmering mirages as you slowly succumb to white-line fever.