Stab Magazine | Watch: Russell Bierke Paddled Into This Shipstern Mutant On A 6'2
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Watch: Russell Bierke Paddled Into This Shipstern Mutant On A 6’2

Russ’ new film, ‘Flow State,” captures the wave of his life and many more like it. 

cinema // Nov 1, 2019
Words by stab
Reading Time: 4 minutes

While on the Stab Innocents trip, Craig Anderson told us about the most incredibly surfed wave he’d ever seen in person. 

“I was at Shipstern’s,” Craig said. “I don’t really know what I was doing there—definitely not getting any good ones—but from the channel, I saw Russ Bierke catch the most fucked up wave I’ve ever seen. He basically air-dropped and hooked under this thing that… I don’t even know how to describe what this wave looked like. It was just insane. I’m sure you’ll see it soon enough.”

Craig Anderson doesn’t claim “best evers” often, so when he does, our interest is inevitably piqued.

We spent several months wondering what type of wave could have made such a lasting impact on Craig—then Russ posted a screengrab of the ride to his Insta, and it started to make sense. The wall was bulbous and blue as they come, with a grower section down the line that promised to part the sea with nuclear force. 

Russ Stern by Talon Clamow

Russ’ caption read: “Flow State will be dropping early November! Here’s a frame from probably the best wave of my life to date.”

If you’ve been keeping track, that’s two supremely legitimate surfers who claimed this wave as the best-ever in some capacity. Intrigued, we hit up Russ for a sneak peek at his new film, but his being on a remote camping trip meant he didn’t see our message. 

Fast-forward to today, Russ is finally back in reception, and his film ‘Flow State,’ is live on the internet. 

Having finally borne witness, we can say that Russ’ “best-ever” wave surely lives up to the hype. But in saying that, we also don’t want one wave to detract from the other 13 minutes of absurdly impressive surfing in this film. 

Flow State is a mesmerizing clip through and through, and it’s well-contextualized thanks to the constant dialogue between our protagonist and his fellow death-slipping pal, Brett Burcher. 

Carve out 15 minutes to absorb this cinematic masterpiece above, then scroll below for a brief interview with the Night King himself. 

Russ Small pit

Stab: Hey Russ. First of all, congrats on the film. What a banger! 
Russell Bierke: Ah, thanks mate. Yeah, it was a really fun one to be a part of. The filmmaker Andrew Kaineder tied it up nice. 

So the clip opens with a dramatic wipeout. Take me through that wave.
Yeah, that was almost bad [laughs]. You never want to fall before the step, but luckily I didn’t get too flogged. 

Did you think it was makable when you were paddling in?
It was a double-up, so I knew it wouldn’t be easy, but I thought it might let me in. Then when I was paddling, I realized it wasn’t going to give me an entry, but it was too late to pull back so I just gave it my best shot. 

How can you tell if a Shipstern’s wave will have a paddle entry or if it’s strictly a tow wave?
It’s kinda tricky, hey, because some waves look massive but they give you a full chip-in, and other ones are smaller but impossible to get into paddling. It all depends on how they hit the reef. Basically, if you see the wave suck all the water off the reef and it starts pulling you out the back, it’s a tow set. 

So let’s talk about The Wave. Did you know it was gonna be that perfect when you took off?
It looked like a good one, yeah, but it’s pretty rare to get one that grows like that. After I made the drop, I knew I was in a good position, so it was jus a matter of holding one. The problem was, I actually lost my foot on the air-drop so I was struggling to get it back in position for the tube. It’s lucky I made it. 

Russ Crazy Drop

To me, the real “lucky” wave was that one at the giant wedging left. You know, the one that didn’t want to let you in but you kept paddling anyway, then somehow set the rail and scooped under the lip on that massive surfboard.
Yeah, that was a funny one. My good mate on the bodyboard asked me if I was going, and I thought I was in the perfect position, so I said, “Yeah, yeah, I got it!” But it turned out I wasn’t really in the right spot, so I had to dig over the ledge to get into it, which is never fun. I don’t think I would have gone if I hadn’t already told my mate I was going—I kinda felt like I was obligated after that [laughs].  

That joint looks hectic. Just giant wedges swinging over a super shallow reef. How do you have it so dialed?
I’ve just spent a lot of time there is all. I still struggle a lot out there and cop heaps of waves on the head, but every now and again we get lucky. 

What size board do you ride out there? That blade looks pretty hefty.
I’ll ride anywhere between a 7’0 and 8’0 out there depending on the size. It’s a pretty big board for the size of the wave, but it feels like you need it out there because it’s such a big playing field and there’s so much water moving. 

Well, whatever you’re doing is working. And what about Shipstern’s? It looks like you’re riding a smaller board there.
Yeah, I was on a 6’2 that day [laughs]. The thing is, there’s such a defined takeoff at Shippies, and if you time it right, it’s almost like catching a standing wave. So you really don’t need that much length, just good positioning. 

That’s what she said! 

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