"I've always loved big waves," says Narrabeen hot shot…
Five days ago, the Narrabeen surfer Laura Enever thrilled me, you, Taj, Carissa, Steph, anyone with a surf kink, when she towed into ten-foot Shipstern Bluff in Tasmania.
Ms Enever, who no longer competes on the WCT after blowing a knee paddle-surfing Jaws at the end of 2016 but who missed the 2017 injury wildcard to Malia Manuel, is making a movie, called Undone, about her transition from competitor to big-waver.
When I saw the first of the Shipstern photos, I gave Laura and her filmmaker-director Steve Wall a call to discuss.
He, for the finer details of the film; she, for the finer points of riding the infamous righthand ledge. I snatched Steve, briefly, at Hobart airport but Ms Enever proved a little more elusive.
A DM here, Hobart, a DM there, Sydney airport prior to a run to Cloudbreak to collide with a six-to-eight-foot swell, a DM that got her on the boat on the way out to the leftghander. Eventually, I got Laura beside the pool at her hotel on the Fijian mainland.
First, says Laura, she hadn’t actually…planned… on surfing Shipsterns on that trip. Tasmania was meant to be the concluding chapter after a year of surfing, and filming, at big waves around Australia. It would be the hero piece. The final act in a compelling drama of a surfer coming to terms with, and conquering, the country’s most spectacular wave.
But a swell hit, a few of the guys Steve usually shoots with, Russell Bjerke etc, were going down, how about she go and get a feel for the joint?
So she does the two-hour walk in, watches and watches from the rocks, then figures she might just paddle out, sit in the channel and get a closer look. A local bodyboarder, Shane Ackerman, gives her instructions on how to navigate the outrageous rock jump there (“You’re jumping into the biggest ocean ever, it’s quite dramatic,” says Laura) and within fifteen minutes she is on the rope, as they say.
On her first wave, Laura takes too high a line and cartwheels down the face. “I got sucked over the falls and then, as I came up, I could hear the whole channel erupting. They were losing it, loving it. Whether you made a wave or ate shit, they were stoked.”
After the cartwheel, she sits in a boat in the channel for three hours, until around four-thirty when conditions became so good, Laura couldn’t resist having another swing.
She plans on paddling, it’ss that clean, that perfect, but the local surfer Marty Paradisis tells her he’ll tow her into a set.
On the boat, another local, Mikey Brennan, tells her she needs to “be like a cat. He was yelling at me, ‘Be like a cat! Agile and ready like a cat!’ It was the best advice I got all day. You don’t know what the wave is going to do so…be like a cat.”
“I went from overthinking it to letting it happen,” says Laura. “It all happened so fast. I can’t believe how big it looks on the photos. You tow into a six-footer and it…grows.”
And her response to the response from people like Taj Burrow, Carissa Moore, Stephanie Gilmore and Sabre Norris telling her she was “a weapon”, “crazy”, and so on?
“People thought I’d lost my marbles,” says Laura. “But I’ve always loved big waves. When I was eighteen I went to P-Pass and got hooked on getting big barrels. I’ve had some awesome trips to Cloudy, I’ve been lit up at Jaws, which made me so determined to be stronger and more experienced so I can make a wave there.”
Is she a little sad that she ain’t on the tour with her gal pals?
“I wasn’t feeling that stoked on the tour. I wasn’t getting sad when I lost. I wasn’t feeling anything. When you’ve been doing the QS and the tour for seven years, there was no time to do other stuff. So not getting the injury wildcard worked out in my favour. ”
The twenty or thirty minute documentary, it’s surfing so it’s wave dependent, will be loosed sometime in the southern hemi spring.
And right now?
“Cocktails,” says Laura.