Once upon a time, many, many years ago, as so many fairy tales start, I was sitting in a meeting with a bunch of twitchy people I had not met before. They had called me in to act as a consultant for their specialty surfing event they were thinking of having. I had flown a long way to get to this meeting, about 12 hours, and I was a little dazed in the meeting. It was to be the first of many such meetings, so I decided to just listen at this one, to try and get up to speed.

They had a pretty good concept, but it was quite dangerous. The concept was extreme, and back then (20 or so years ago) we were all pretty limited in choices in the surfing content that was being delivered. So their thinking was on point.

The conversation soon turned across to the filming of the event, the rights of the company, and the fact that they did not want any freelance media shooting the contest. This seemed kinda weird to me. The more photographers and videographers shooting, the more content and thus the more media output.

“No.” I was told. “We don’t want anyone else filming this. When someone dies in the event, we don't want any disputes over who owns the footage. It’ll be extremely valuable…”

… or words to that effect.

Ok there were foreign people involved, so maybe a little was lost in the translation. The concept was clear though. They wanted to have exclusive ownership of footage that might show someone die, or get horribly injured. It was my first glimpse of corporate thinking, and it was a mind-boggling moment.

With the perfect vision of hindsight, they were correct. No one ever died because they didn't run that particular event, but if they had ended up with some very special footage, it could quite possibly make their company into a massive overnight success story.

We have all seen what happened to the footage of Mick Fanning and the shark. It went viral, and the World Surf League’s clip has been viewed 24,4 million times on YouTube. In today’s online world, that is real currency.

Next up is the Red Bull Cape Fear. If ever there was an event where someone could die, this is the one. The dangers are incredibly real at this notorious surf spot, and at the fearsome event last year there were some serious knocks to the crania, but not serious enough to lead to any sort of debilitation. Jughead took the worst injury, emerging with a bleeding head and a twisted shoulder, and there were a few trips to the hospital for checks, but that was about it.  

Richie Vaculik, walking a fine line during the 2017 Cape Fear event. Photo: Ed Sloane / Red Bull Content Pool

Watching it on their webcast however, was horrendous. It was like watching a head-on car crash, and then sticking around to see the bodies. It was without a doubt the scariest event I have witnessed.

I guess if you live in and around Pikers Hole, then you might somehow get a little accustomed to the carnage, get used to the death-defying rides, but for a rookie viewer, the only question that rises every single time someone gets towed into a wave is why?  

Why The Fuck?

I guess being the champion of The Scariest Surf Contest In The World is reason enough.

But seriously. I hope nobody dies out there.

More here

Red Bull Cape Fear Stomach-Turning Highlights from MSW on Vimeo.