Chris Lougher gives a moment-by-moment account of the immortalized wave
For many Australian surfers, Chris Lougher’s wave at Sydney’s Deadman’s in July was the ride of the year. The context of Chris’s ascension to hero status is worth considering.
As COVID crippled travel plans our surfing interests centred on our own shores. With the blessing to ‘work’ from home and bugger all else to do, most of us surfed more than ever. We ordered boards, wetsuits, and whatever surfing hardware we could our hands-on. What's App groups were filled with surfing banter and barrel tales.
On the east coast, mother-nature certainly came to the party over winter. If there was no vaccine then non-stop swell was certainly the perfect antidote. Surfing obsession became the default mode for many of us. Meanwhile, with the WSL in limbo, there was a sense that the limelight could be snatched by anybody. The setting was primed for an underground hero to emerge and ride the wave of the winter.
Chris Lougher was a chef from Curl Curl who had spent the better part of the last decade hunting gaping pits at Puerto Escondido. He wasn’t the kind of guy to talk up his exploits but he was well respected by the big wave aficionados who frequent the wave known as Mexican Pipe.
While Mexico may have become a second home, Deadman’s had always been the wave where he was determined to prove himself. When footage of Chris’s Deadman’s ride appeared on social media and the internet in late July people went mad. We all lived vicariously through Chris as the colossal Deadman’s lip arched over his slender frame, pitting him in a battle with the foam ball to make the wave of his life. The best footage came courtesy of videographer Spencer Frost, who was shooting from over a km away on the Headland at Freshwater. The full back story behind Chris’s immortalized ride, and how it was captured on film, is told in the Tracks 50th-anniversary issue. However, here’s Chris vividly explaining exactly what went through his mind when he rode the wave that sent the surfing world wild.
“No one really looked at it and I was like no way. It looks like it chips me in, but I had to really put my head down and paddle for it… It was drawing really hard off the bottom. There’s a little rivet going across the face, but it didn’t really step out, but it was to the left of me… So I just picked my line where I felt it wasn’t going to foam over and create that gnarly boil. Because I’d just had a wave, I stupidly had all this confidence and I got to the bottom of the wave and that’s when I tried to do that thing where you paint the walls. I went to stand up and put my hands out wide, but I was thinking consciously, ‘You F#$^ing idiot, what are you doing, why are you trying to stand in it, you’re getting too cocky’… I could feel it really drawing off the bottom and that’s when my stance kind of changed and I was like ‘c’mon please make this thing’… I had the big bowl view when I stood in it but then it kind of waterfalled in front of me. There was one moment where I was just kind of holding on… I was thinking ‘just go high, just try and go high’… I tracked high and the thing waterfalled in front of me and I just held on for dear life and came out of it. It kind of spat a little bit. I was just elated. I was like, ‘Oh my God I just got another one and it was better than my first one…”
Footage courtesy of Spencer Frost @spencerfrostfilms