There Are Still Perfect, Empty Waves Left In The World - Stab Mag

Live Now: How Surfers Get Paid — The Queens of Ascension

0 View

There Are Still Perfect, Empty Waves Left In The World

Soli Bailey, Timo Simmers + Layne Stratton on the sand-bottomed unicorn seen in ‘Maps to Nowhere’.

// May 13, 2024
Words by Ethan Davis
Reading Time: 8 minutes

Credit where credit is due. Well done Surfline and O’Neill. 

This taps into that timeless, aspirational north star of surf culture – finding perfect, uncrowded waves in a time when it feels unthinkable – and completely knocks it out of the park. NGL, as a household of surfers we paused this clip upwards of 1000 times looking for any signs of where this might be and found every conceivable telltale breadcrumb blurred or removed entirely.

Perhaps more worldly folks will fare better. I’m clutching at straws.

Words from the surfers and lensmen below.

“It was insane because the wave was so fast that unless you were standing at the very bottom of the point, you couldn’t see people making it out of barrels,” recalls Timo Simmers. “There were multiple waves of Caity that I was watching from the shoulder where I was like, ‘oh, that sucks. She didn’t make it’. And then you watched the clip and they actually made it and it was just shocking.” Photo by Surfline.

Layne Stratton

Matt Roads (producer) is legit as they come. He’s the reason this thing came together. He wakes up while we’re on these trips and he’ll scavenge Google Earth looking for potential setups, cross referencing it with the various forecast models. He probably has a collection of 20, 30 spots that he expresses an interest in and then he will share the location with the Surfline forecasters, and try to drum up as much information on it as possible. A lot of times he’ll actually go and scout it out, but he didn’t do that on this one. He had a contact over there who sent him some clips, but nothing suggested we would get what we ended up getting. It definitely exceeded our wildest expectations. So in a nutshell, Matt and the team of forecasters made a judgment call essentially of what the likelihood of us scoring is. A full calculated guess. Of the 12 times we’ve been ‘yellow lit’ for swells we’ve only actually gone three times.

After the first 24 hours of being there, you could start to see a bit of concern growing on Caity and Timo’s faces. The rest of us felt it too. It’s a long way to go to get skunked, and doubt definitely started creeping in. The first proper day of swell we rushed down there at first light and came back absolutely freaking out. You could tell Caity and Timo were pretty skeptical. Like, ‘are these guys tripping or what?’. I think they needed to see it in the flesh to be like ‘okay, this is legit’.

“We talked to a few locals and to our knowledge no one has ever surfed it. They were actually saying that just people don’t really go in the water there. The ocean is definitely considered dangerous and a bit of a bizzare thing to run excitedly toward,” says Layne. Photo from Surfline.

A lot of waves had these crazy backwash ribs in them, and I hope in time we get to put out more of that raw footage that shows how the wave transforms. It definitely wasn’t perfect at first, but as time went on, it just started eating away at the sandbar and getting better and better and better. 

We surfed all day for probably two and a half days in total. We were joking about being numb to it in the end, and we had to keep reminding ourselves this is such a rare, potentially once in a lifetime opportunity. So we literally spent every second down there. Dawn til dusk. I probably went through five battery changes per day. The work ethic just matched that excitement level, so you’ll just sleep when you’re dead. It’s a comparable setup to Snapper Rocks, where after every wave you’re running ~400m back around. These guys were just running on pizza, peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, water and froth, all day long. 6-8 hour sessions, non-stop. I think the fullest board bag by the end of the trip had two boards in it. Like it was a real issue. Once supplies were dwindling it became a real trade off, like ‘do I want to risk not being able to surf the remaining days or do I just try stuff myself in this thing anyway?’

Watching the way Caity adapted on the fly was remarkable. You can tell she almost has a skateboarder’s brain, where each time she fell, you could see her analyzing it and applying some sort of change to correct it on the next wave. Day-by-day you were just watching these giant leaps in her ability to not only read the wave but make subtle adjustments to her approach. She’d been talking with her coach Tom [Whittaker] about the two arms forward thing to generate speed in the tube. Then she was bouncing stuff off Soli and you would just watch her implement these theories and actually make those adjustments. I hate being too claimy, but the second after I buttoned off on her last wave, I was like, ‘oh, that’s one of those waves that’s just going to kind of go down in history’. It’s just so rare that you see someone able to pair that level of technical precision with looking good doing it. I truly feel so fortunate to have been there to witness that and to have captured that wave. I was absolutely tripping afterward.

It was really funny because we had to shoot those interviews right at the end of the trip but there were still perfect waves coming through. We were just like, ‘this is getting distracting, dude. We need to do this now and this is part of it’. So while I was filming all the interviews and stuff, the rest of the crew was just out there getting pitted. 

Soli’s dropping an edit on Stab in the next two weeks. Prepare to be popped. Photo from Surfline.

Soli Bailey

The closest reference I’ve got are all the points from North Straddie down to Lennox. It was like a super sized version of all them combined in terms of how fast and heavy it is. It’s definitely the fastest point I’ve ever surfed. Bottomless, square and full throttle the whole way.

On the first good day, Caity, Timo and I were all talking about how freaking hard it was to make in the lineup. We were just like, ‘how the hell do we actually get through one of these?’ I was like, ‘just envision Dingo, Joel and Mick and what they do at Kirra’. I swear it actually helped using those guys’ approach to tuberiding as a blueprint because everything they do in the pit drives them forward, from their hands and shoulder positioning to the angles they cut. Once we had spoken about that, I swear we all started making more waves. The level that Caity progressed to was just fucking phenomenal. She’s a full sponge. She picked everything up so quickly then literally rode the longest barrel and perfect wave of the whole trip right at the end. It was so fucked up.

How does it compare to the other swells I got this year? I think this particular one takes the cake. Finding a perfect wave is a once in a lifetime thing. I know for a fact there’s more waves like this out in the world that haven’t been explored and surfed, but I just think to actually do it and score as hard as we did is such a rarity.

We could have so easily gone there gotten skunked. Caity and Timo would’ve been like, ‘what the fuck are we doing here? Why are we doing this stupid trip?’ Like, I’m up for it. I don’t care whether we get skunked or not. But when you’re busy on the world tour, I completely understand your time’s precious. You don’t just want to be traveling fucking six days without a guarantee you’re going to get some good waves. So this one in particular stacks up as one of the greatest trips of all time for me. And I say that having already had a very special year so far.

Standing room only. Timo locked into a nug prior to breaking his whole quiver. Photo from Surfline.

Timo Simmers

It’s a gnarly trip to get there. It’s definitely very far from home. When you travel super far away, you can be a bit unsettled and eggy, and Caity and I didn’t have a lot of confidence that the waves were going to get good. So we were honestly pretty unhappy the first couple of days. Like, almost ready to go home because the waves totally average. It was a straight sandbar, like fucking Oceanside or something. It’s like, ‘surely you didn’t come all this way to break all your boards on a six foot shore break, did you?’.

When the guys came to the house freaking out, we didn’t know what to think. We paddled out and it was still sketchy and fast and not that great, honestly. You could see that there was potentially a crazy sandbar forming, but it still wasn’t there yet. Then it kind of switched on us randomly while we were surfing and then it was fucking good for four days straight. It didn’t stop.

It was insane because the wave was so fast that unless you were standing at the very bottom of the point, you couldn’t see people making it out of barrels. There were multiple waves of Caity that I was watching from the shoulder where I was like, ‘oh, that sucks. She didn’t make it’. And then you watched the clip and they actually made it and it was just a shock.

We surfed probably six, seven hours, running around every time we caught a wave. It was one of the gnarliest waves I’ve ever surfed too. We were getting super pounded so it was pretty draining. We pretty much survived off pizza only.

“That one where I get axed in the head? Oh dude. I was out the back on my own actually hoping a set wouldn’t come because I just wanted the fun little insiders at that point. But of course the biggest set of the whole trip came through and I went and actually got pretty barrelled out the back, which you can’t see because of the wave in front covering it. But I got a pretty sick standup barrel at the back and then went to the inside and just saw this huge backwash coming straight for me. So I was like, ‘oh, I’ll just straighten out’. But it just wasn’t a good idea to straighten out where I did in that moment. The wave was super tall and I thought it was behind me, but basically the thing came down on my fucking head.” 

100% I got the waves of my life on that trip. But weirdly, I wasn’t that stoked in the moment because Soli and Caity were comboing me, which is to be expected I guess. But still, when your sister is getting way more barreled than you, it’s a little off putting. So I was rattled almost, but still super hyped if I wasn’t comparing myself to them. I am super hyped with how it came out, but it’s hard not to compare yourself to people. 

Yeah, it was an insane once in a lifetime trip. I hopefully will go on another trip where we do something similar, but I don’t expect it to happen anytime soon. I know it was truly a crazy experience. Like, it was crazy for even Soli who has got to be one of the most barreled humans of the past year. 


Comments are a Stab Premium feature. Gotta join to talk shop.

Already a member? Sign In

Want to join? Sign Up


Most Recent

Goofs Triumphant, Top Seeds Falter As Nine Point Tubes Rain On Tahitian Elim Round

And we're just getting started.

May 30, 2024

Vahine Fierro Swoops Tati WW in “Best Women’s Heat Ever”, Wins Tahiti CT Over ‘Bullseye’ Brisa Hennessy

The second giant leap forward for women's tube riding in 2024.

May 29, 2024

“It’s Going To Be Code Red And We’re Going Right”

Eimeo Czermak, Liam O'Brien, and Doug Silva offer clarity into the cornucopia of energy headed…

May 29, 2024

Would You Surf The Right If You Knew You’d Get 20 Waves With Dry Hair?

“I should’ve done it in boardies,” joked Letty Mortensen after his first session at the…

May 29, 2024

2025 CT Rumors: A Hollow Left To Host WSL Finals, Sunset Axed For Big Oil, And Surfing’s Most Viral Wave Returns

Edging closer to a modern-day dream tour.

May 28, 2024

Full Frame: His & Hers Tow Tango Somewhere In Aus

Date night with Imogen and Cortney Brown.

May 27, 2024

Top Two Women Axed Early, Three Join The 9+ Club, Kelly Reveals Reptile-Inspired Baby Name

Hint: it rhymes with Slater and could eat you (or a zebra).

May 26, 2024

The Stab Interview: 5x CT Winner, Budding Entrepreneur, And Stab High Invitee Julian Wilson

If you never retire, you can't call it a comeback.

May 25, 2024

The Best Surfing I’ve Ever Seen: Lachlan Mckinnon

How often does a filmer pay for the surfer's plane ticket?

May 25, 2024

Hurley Can Now Legally Rent A Car

A quarter-century in the surf game is no small feat.

May 24, 2024

Airs On Trees: Bosiny Cracked The High-Performance Wood Surfboard Code 

Feat. Paulownia wood reinforced with Kevlar, these boards are as light as PU and loaded with spring. 

May 23, 2024

What’s In A Wedge?

Enjoyable water movement, explained by an expert.

May 23, 2024

Watch: Tosh Tudor In ‘Tube Therapy’

The 19-year old offers prescriptive insights into Desert Point karma, backside tube poise, and Off-The-Wall…

May 23, 2024

Swell’s En Route, Slater’s Involved, Here Comes Teahupo’o… 

A Tahiti Pro preview.

May 22, 2024

Can Medina Overcome His CT Drought In Tahiti?

Tahurai Henry offers his picks for the SHISEIDO Tahiti Pro

May 21, 2024

The 35 Best Song Pairings In Surf Films, As Ranked By Dane Reynolds, Taylor Steele & You

From Noa Deane and Courtney Love, to Andy Irons and Coldplay, to Creed McTaggart and…

May 20, 2024

Is This The Most Cost Efficient Way To Noticeably Improve Your Surfing In A Single Month?

All you can eat for $1500 AUD at URBNSURF Melbourne.

May 20, 2024

Watch And Learn: How To Score A Solo Sesh At 8-Foot Teahupo’o With Leonardo Fioravanti

Skip lunch and gorge.

May 19, 2024