Stab Magazine | Welcome To Fear Season, With Your Host: Mark Mathews

Welcome To Fear Season, With Your Host: Mark Mathews

All in the name of “entertainment”.

news // Apr 18, 2016
Words by stab
Reading Time: 4 minutes

“Knowing my shit luck, it will happen in the next month while I can’t surf,” laments Red Bull Cape Fear maestro, the currently-wounded Mark Mathews. “I’ve just missed the greatest swell season in the history of surfing.”

After the hammer fell on him and destroyed his shoulder at Jaws last December, Mark has steadied himself through the slow rehab process by diligently putting all of the pieces in place for the impending Red Bull Cape Fear contest. And now he’s just about ready to kick things off. The waiting period could get underway this week.

Making some changes, fending a hit of criticism, Mark’s confident that his unique test of of skill and survival on the south side of Sydney will make for good viewing…whenever it runs. Stab pinned him down, and here’s what you need to know:

Stab: After it not being quite the size you wanted for the first year, do you just want it to be really evil now?
Mark Mathews: Yeah, it’s gotta be big – big, scary, and entertaining.

Red Bull Cape Fear Ryan Hipwood

Ours gets way, way scarier than this. But last time the event ran, these were the conditions Mark was dealt. Ryan Hipwood owned the day with this bomb.

Do you think there’d be any size where paddling isn’t actually possible? I think no matter what, we have to paddle. It gets really hard when it’s big, but there’s always waves between sets that you can sneak into. If it’s holding and there’s good ones out there we’ll be paddling as well as towing. I can’t see the event running as just a tow event.

Some of the hardcore guys seem a little critical, do you think if the event and waves happen as they are meant to it will silence the skepticism? One hundred percent. Anyone who has seen it on a nice day knows how crazy it is. It’s about entertainment. When people are towing into a big full-on set that you can’t paddle into it’s just like all the waves that go through at Chopes that are unrideable.

Are you going with the boxing-style format again? Yeah, we’re going to have battles, but this time the top four highest heat totals out of the winners will meet up, so there’s a final. Basically out of all the guys that win their battles the top four will surf again in a final. From there the highest point scorer will win the event. The way I wanted it was if there are four people surfing at a time, two tow and two paddle. And, it’s just the top four highest scores. And like the Eddie it has a live leaderboard that just keeps changing. I was thinking this might just be better and less confusing.


This is how we wanna see it. Photo: Rod Owen/ Red Bull

So who’s confirmed so far? Albee Layer’s coming, which should be sick. Jack Robinson is another one that I’m pretty excited to see. And then kind of all the standard guys that have been in it for a few years… and there will be an invite in the mail to old TB (Taj Burrow) too. We’ll see if he’s keen. He’s kind of like, y’know, all the spots were filled before he retired. There’s always sure to be one person who doesn’t come, and he’s first cab of the rank if he’s keen.

The forecasting is very tricky, what are the perils of trying to score surf on the east coast of Oz? You get about a one-day forecast time before you’re starting to look at a 70 to 80-percent chance that it’s going to be right. If you go two days out it drops to 60 to 70-percent. Anything longer and it can be like fucking 30 to 40-percent.

Why is that? When a storm originates miles away in the ocean the swell’s formed and on its way, so you’re pretty much guaranteed waves are on the way. But our storms come straight off the land and go into the water, then the swell will be there within two days – especially from the eastern direction. What a storm does as it moves from land to water is really unpredictable. You can’t get a six-day east swell forecast.

Chalk Best Ours

Chalk’s one of the best to ever do it at The Cape. Hopefully he’s made a full recovery before first siren.

What does this contest look like in five years? It’s all up to Red Bull. They’re the only company that can do something like this and to commit the kind of money to make something like this happen – and be okay with it maybe not happening… There’s not many other companies that would take that risk. Basically it’s up to them.

What’s your gut feeling on when it might run? The waiting period might start this week, Wednesday maybe. It will probably end July or early August. But I reckon, knowing my shit luck, it will happen in the next month while I can’t surf. I’ve just missed the greatest swell season in the history of surfing. I missed the other greatest day at Fiji getting an operation on my hip, so how’s this not going to go in the best waves ever?


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