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 weekwhen four-time world champion Layne Beachley successfully challenged some ofthe biggest waves ever faced by a female.
Always on call when big swells strike, the Billabong Odyssey team trackeda large storm passing north of Hawaii and chased the swell to the renownedbig-wave break at Todos Santos Island off Ensenada, Mexico. While Todos haslong 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 towpartner was unavailable due to an injury. Since Bradshaw is Beachley’sboyfriend and frequent surf training partner, the transition was quick yetseamless. 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 makethe 5:30 a.m. dockside call for the Billabong Odyssey’s mobile group ofsurfers, staff & photographers. A crew from the New York-based ArenaplexFilms was on hand to capture the day for a major documentary to betheatrically released this summer.Fellow Billabong Odyssey surfers Brad Gerlach and Mike Parsons?fresh fromtheir second-place finish in the World Cup of Tow-in Surfing in Maui?lead thepre-dawn voyage 10 miles offshore to the famed island break on personal watercraft.The substantial swell produced some of the biggest waves seen at the spotin recent years, estimated at 40 to 55 feet on the face, with excellent shapemaking them perfect for high-performance surfing. Parsons and Gerlachdemonstrated their finely tuned tow-surfing partnership which has earned thepair global acclaim. But it was the Beachley/Bradshaw combination thatepitomized the Billabong Odyssey’s ongoing goal of demolishing the perceivedbarriers of modern big-wave surfing.Alternating between driving and being pulled behind the 155-horsepowerWaverunner, Beachley showed why she is the only woman comfortable exploringthe “outer limits” of modern surfing. Beachley rode several dozen massivewalls with calculated precision, successfully completing every ride.Beachley was also impressive with her water craft driving skills, placingBradshaw into the critical part of many giant waves and calmly retrieving herboyfriend from the impact zone after the occasional routine wipeout.Mike Parsons, the reigning king of Todos since the mid-80s, was impressedby Layne’s efforts at his spot. “She was ripping,” said Parsons. “There arevery few men anywhere in the world who have ever ridden waves like she didout there.”Beachley found the whole day to be a special experience. “I was stokedto be able to hop on with the Billabong Odyssey,” said Beachley. “As much asI love competing, I have a ‘need for speed’ that can only come from ridingbig waves. I’m really excited to continue to explore the outer limits on theouter reefs.”Beachley will begin her own quest for a fifth ASP world title as the protour begins in Australia next month.The Billabong Odyssey’s three-year quest for the world’s biggest waves iscurrently underway along the Pacific west coast. The Odyssey team iscurrently tuning its equipment and standing by for the next big swell, readyat a moment’s notice to chase the highest surf possible from Canada to Mexico.