Video: Conquering waves at Cape Fear off Botany Bay

Swell: Mark Mathews in a spectacular barrel off Cape Fear recently. Picture: John Veage
Swell: Mark Mathews in a spectacular barrel off Cape Fear recently. Picture: John Veage
No fear hear: Some of the world's best "slab" riding specialists (right to left) Koby Aberton, Dean Morrison, Makoa Rothman, Mark Mathews and Ryan Hipwood. Picture Bill Morris

No fear hear: Some of the world's best "slab" riding specialists (right to left) Koby Aberton, Dean Morrison, Makoa Rothman, Mark Mathews and Ryan Hipwood. Picture Bill Morris

THEY only call it Cape Fear, somewhere off Sydney's Botany Bay.

In fact, the location of Sydney's first big-wave event is close to Sutherland Shire but exactly where will be kept a secret before the Red Bull Cape Fear contest gets under way.

In the very bay where Lieutenant James Cook landed in Australia 244 years ago, Cape Fear has been the site of many a wreck - both man and craft - over the years.

An angry Pacific Ocean stirs and jerks like a mad witch's melting pot, pushing into the bay before pitching furiously on a shallow ledge. (Check out the video below of surfers at Cape Fear, courtesy of PremiAir Productions.)

Within a matter of seconds a 10-foot wave slab is formed and races towards a cliff-face just metres ahead before imploding on itself — and anyone who dares to attempt ride it. This wave is only for the specialists and even they sometimes don't get it right.

The new invitational-only, big-wave surfing event will feature 14 of the world's best "slab" riders who dedicate their lives to finding and riding waves that many others would fear.

"Pound for pound, Cape Fear is the heaviest and most dangerous wave in the world," said Sydney's Mark Mathews, a big wave surfer and one of the brains behind the Red Bull concept. 

"There's no wave in the world from six to 10 feet that is heavier than this one.

"Deep water swells pitch on a super shallow ledge that's covered with razorblade barnacles and then it breaks only 10-15 metres from the cliff face.

"So if you fall off and don't hit the bottom, chances are you're going to get washed into that cliff face.

"There are plenty of dangers... and few people willing to navigate them."

In a world first, Red Bull Cape Fear will employ an overlapping heat format, meaning a new competition style where surfers compete in designated battles — pitted against each other in a thrilling arena, combining paddle and tow-in surfing.

And every man-on-man clash will result in a winner.

This battle-style format is used to maximise the short waiting period and potential peak in a large swell, and will give fans the chance to witness epic contests and the settling of old scores.

Live action: Fuel TV or http://www.redbullcapefear.com

WAITING PERIOD

 Red Bull Cape Fear has a waiting period from April 17 through to August 1 and the ocean wave forecasting expertise at Coastalwatch.com will liaise with Red Bull to call the day. A Cape Fear location is searchable on Coastalwatch.com for the duration of the waiting period. 

SLAB SPECIALISTS

The field for Red Bull Cape Fear brings together a unique breed of surfers from around the world and capable of taking on this wave. The list includes Australians Mark Mathews, Ryan Hipwood, Koby Abberton, Richie Vaculik, Laurie Towner, Dave Rastovich, Jesse Polock and Dean Morrison; Hawaiians Bruce Irons, Jamie O’Brien, Ian Walsh, Shane Dorian and Makua Rothman and America’s Alex Gray.

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