A "nightmare scenario"…
You want to know what it’s like to wear a fifteen-foot set on the head out at Margaret River’s main break, five thousand nautical miles from any sorta land mass that might temper the big south-west swells?
The pro surfer turned real estate agent Mitch Thorson, ranked #16 in the mid-eighties and noted for his jams in big waves, knows.
Last Thursday, he and a few pals were surfing late-arvo Margs, eight-to-twelve feet. Ain’t no soft-tops or fishes out here. Raw deep-water swell.
Mitch had scratched over a twelve-footer and when the spray cleared he saw it, a top-to-bottom fifteen, maybe eighteen-footer.
His first thought? I’m fifty-six years old, I’ve surfed twenty-five footers at Waimea and the outer reefs, sure, but back then I was twenty eight and healthy.
“It’s a bit different when you’re a chubby real estate agent wallowing around at Margarets,” he says.
But he’d been doing a bit of underwater rock running in the lagoon at the Box, he knew it was a fifteen-second period swell and figured he had ten seconds “to get my shit together.”
He took his three deep breaths and got “absolutely smashed, absolutely rag-dolled by this thing that looked like Waimea but the other way around”. His old twelve-foot Creatures leash held, as it would for the following four fifteen-to-eighteen footers.
“Pretty stoked it happened, it was an awesome experience,” says Mitch. “I haven’t been clobbered like that for fifteen years.”
Mitch says the surf report was for six-to-eight feet.
Therefore, he says, he won’t be real surprised if the predicted eight-to-ten-foot swell for the opening day of the Margaret River Pro on Sunday, May 3, turns into something that will infuse even the boldest tour professional’s stomach with piles of sick.
He says it ain’t unusual for swells to piggyback each other, turning a supposed three feet into ten as it did a couple of weeks back.
“That’s what’s happening around here,” he says. “There’s the forecast and then there’s what you’re looking at.”
Couple the report, which you can read here, with one of the most active salmon runs in years, reports of a tagged fifteen-foot White hitting one receiver at Meelup on the other side of Cape Naturaliste fifty times, as well as untagged animals “poking there heads up here and there” and, well, who ain’t licking their stank fingers in anticipation.