“I think that’s the biggest and heaviest wave ever ridden at Deserts.” Shaper Dylan Longbottom
Big Deserts, right? But biggest ever? When Tracks first saw this wave, it looked too big to be true. Unsurprisingly the surfer is Eddie Blackwell, a surfer from the South Coast of NSW who has a claim to being one of the hardest charging underground surfer of the last few decades.
“I arrived on the afternoon flight on the Monday, raced to Deserts and started shooting the Point,” says West Oz born, Bali-based photographer Paul Viney aka @tinman72. “I saw a couple of guys down at the Grower and, sure enough, one was Eddie. I walked down and the first wave I shot was Eddie on that bomb.”
Blackwell is a beast of a human and courtesy of his dreadlocks and ability to withstand any kind of punishment earned the nickname the Predator. Blackwell grew up in Helensburgh and cut his teeth on the razor sharp reefs in and around Wollongong. He’s been a gatekeeper, and not always a friendly one, to some of that coast’s heaviest waves and has featured in the pages of Tracks numerous times over the years. However it’s his efforts in Indo that have earned his reputation as a one-off surfer.
“Eddie is one of the most raw talented surfers in the world and at places like G-Land and Deserts he just blows everyone away with his power surfing and the lines he takes,” says Dylan Longbottom, who shapes Eddie’s boards and who he named one of his best selling models after. In this shot Eddie is riding a 6'4" x 19' 1/2" x 2' 11/16" 34.86L Predator model. “Even seasoned pros are baffled to see what Ed does when it gets big,” continued Longbottom. “I think this one might be the biggest and heaviest wave ever ridden at Deserts.”
“I’d actually seen a local kid rode an even bigger wave at the Grower about two weeks ago,” counters Viney (and, yes, we are chasing the footage). “However Eddie’s wave was a solid 10-to-12 feet and he airdropped the takeoff. A second after this image he took the whole thing on the head as he didn’t have enough speed to pull in. He came in laughing and said, ‘That rattled me’ then paddled straight back out and got another one.”
The response to the image was fairly universal. While most had never seen a wave that big at Deserts, many seasoned Desert Rats were unsurprised that it was Blackwell that was riding it. “Best backside attack in Indo for the last 20 years,” wrote @flyinguru. “Holy shit that’s a bomb!!” Posted big wave legend Francisco Porcella. But perhaps @magoofreesurfer put it best when he simply said, “Fuck Me”.