From: The Daily Telegraph
September 02, 2011 8:03PM
SURFERS often talk about the green cathedral.
It’s the moment when the lip of the wave curls over and forms a perfect barrel, with sunlight streaming in from the other end, the translucent walls forming a house of watery worship.
Welcome to Midnight Mass in the green cathedral.
These incredible shots were taken just weeks ago at big-wave surf spot Ours, the notorious reef break just off Botany Bay discovered by the Bra Boys a decade ago. They are the culmination of more than two years of planning by Maroubra surfers and lifelong best mates Mark Mathews and Richie Vas.
The end result: both of them towing-in behind jet skis into 10- to 12-foot barrels, beneath the glare of floodlights beaming down from two delicately placed cherry pickers, in a scene that has been the buzz of the Sydney surf community since.
“It was surreal,” chuckled Vas. “Sitting out in the ocean at 2.30am with your mates, when it’s pitch black and you should be curled up in bed. Not sitting in the cold, washing up against the rocks and bouncing off the reef. There was definitely a fear factor involved. But then when you were on the wave and it was lit up, the colours were amazing. If you picked the right one.”
Mathews said: “When you looked back, it was like looking at a football stadium.”
The idea sparked through Mathews’s frustration at the right wind conditions to surf coming up just as the sun was going down.
“There are so many times when you get perfect swells but you don’t get the right wind conditions,” he said. “And it’s always so often that the winds are perfect at night time, and not during the day.”
Organising the session was a logistical nightmare, and when the swell didn’t materialise as forecast on the day they had planned, they sent the film crews and the lighting experts home.
Then the swell jacked up and it was back on. Once out there, Mathews and Vas effectively
played Russian roulette with Mother Nature.
“The lights could only reach so far, so you couldn’t see how big a wave was going to be,” Mathews explained. “You were towing in blind and hoping it was a good one. By the time you let go of the rope, that’s when you’d find out how big it was. That’s when it was too late”
Mathews is a world-acclaimed big-wave surfer, having taken out the prestigious Oakley Big Wave competition twice in the last three years.
“All those award-winning waves were scary but this was scarier than them,” he said. “Because of the shark factor.”
Night time – that’s the period when sharks eat.
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