BILLABONG ODYSSEY PUTS LADIES FIRST IN HUGE WINTER WAVES
World Champ Beachley Rides Some of Biggest Ever During Mexican Expedition
The Billabong Odyssey’s quest to ride the largest swells on the planet also managed to make a statement about women’s rights this week when four-time world champion Layne Beachley successfully challenged some of the biggest waves ever faced by a female.
Always on call when big swells strike, the Billabong Odyssey team tracked a large storm passing north of Hawaii and chased the swell to the renowned big-wave break at Todos Santos Island off Ensenada, Mexico. While Todos has long been a Mecca for West Coast watermen chasing the ocean’s largest swells, no woman had ever faced the break at full size. Beachley’s amazing day took shape when Ken Bradshaw’s usual Odyssey tow partner was unavailable due to an injury. Since Bradshaw is Beachley’s boyfriend and frequent surf training partner, the transition was quick yet seamless. Flying at the last moment from their winter home in Hawaii, Beachley and Bradshaw arrived in Ensenada at 1:30 a.m. and were able to make the 5:30 a.m. dockside call for the Billabong Odyssey’s mobile group of surfers, staff & photographers. A crew from the New York-based Arenaplex Films was on hand to capture the day for a major documentary to be theatrically released this summer. Fellow Billabong Odyssey surfers Brad Gerlach and Mike Parsons?fresh from their second-place finish in the World Cup of Tow-in Surfing in Maui?lead the pre-dawn voyage 10 miles offshore to the famed island break on personal water craft. The substantial swell produced some of the biggest waves seen at the spot in recent years, estimated at 40 to 55 feet on the face, with excellent shape making them perfect for high-performance surfing. Parsons and Gerlach demonstrated their finely tuned tow-surfing partnership which has earned the pair global acclaim. But it was the Beachley/Bradshaw combination that epitomized the Billabong Odyssey’s ongoing goal of demolishing the perceived barriers of modern big-wave surfing. Alternating between driving and being pulled behind the 155-horsepower Waverunner, Beachley showed why she is the only woman comfortable exploring the “outer limits” of modern surfing. Beachley rode several dozen massive walls with calculated precision, successfully completing every ride. Beachley was also impressive with her water craft driving skills, placing Bradshaw into the critical part of many giant waves and calmly retrieving her boyfriend from the impact zone after the occasional routine wipeout. Mike Parsons, the reigning king of Todos since the mid-80s, was impressed by Layne’s efforts at his spot. “She was ripping,” said Parsons. “There are very few men anywhere in the world who have ever ridden waves like she did out there.” Beachley found the whole day to be a special experience. “I was stoked to be able to hop on with the Billabong Odyssey,” said Beachley. “As much as I love competing, I have a ‘need for speed’ that can only come from riding big waves. I’m really excited to continue to explore the outer limits on the outer reefs.” Beachley will begin her own quest for a fifth ASP world title as the pro tour begins in Australia next month. The Billabong Odyssey’s three-year quest for the world’s biggest waves is currently underway along the Pacific west coast. The Odyssey team is currently tuning its equipment and standing by for the next big swell, ready at a moment’s notice to chase the highest surf possible from Canada to Mexico.