After two days of some of the most insane competition surfing ever to be broadcast to the web, eighteen-year-old South Coast grom Russell Bierke has emerged from the violent maelstrom of Cape Solander as the 2016 Red Bull Cape Fear champion.

In a sixty-minute final that also featured Gold Coast charger Ryan Hipwood, Bra Boy and famed badass Koby Abberton, fly-in fly-out carpenter James ‘Rooster’ Adams, and eight-to-ten-foot double-up slabs detonating against the rocks of Botany Bay, Russ used his thirty-minute tow session to stage a come from behind victory over Hipwood and Abberton which included a perfect ten in the dying minutes of the heat.

‘I thought it was going to break off the reef and land on my head,’ Russ said of the ride afterwards. ‘If it was a foot bigger it probably would have, but I was glad it just held up enough and eventually hit the reef and it was the best view ever.’

After getting skunked in 2015, this year’s Cape Fear event went down in what many are calling the heaviest waves ever seen at the break. With a humungous nor-east swell on offer thanks to an intense east coast storm, a host of hellman took to the notorious slab on day one of competition and proceeded to put on one of the most sadistic displays ever seen in pro surfing. Watching from the safety of the Botany Bay cliffs or their even safer computer screens, spectators were left in disbelief as competitors towed into twelve-foot plus death slabs that regularly handed out some of the ugliest wipeouts known to man. Fireman and long-time charger Justin ‘Jughead’ Allport wore the worst of it, getting taken away to hospital after being swallowed by an absolute monster. He was discharged later and was on hand to watch the finals go down, but was unable to compete despite finishing on top of the points at the end of the first day. Richie Vaculik also suffered a rinsing that defied belief but miraculously resurfaced unscathed.

And while conditions for the final day of competition didn’t reach the same levels of intensity, it was still death-defying stuff out there. Boards were battered, shattered and broken to pieces, bodies were flung through the air and tossed around like meaningless debris, and at the end of all the insanity, a relatively low profile teenager from Ulladulla made a big name for himself by winning one of the most memorable surf contests in recent history.

‘It didn’t even feel like a contest out in the water,’ Russ said of his win. ‘It was just like surfing perfect waves with two other guys out, it was a dream.’

Russell Bierke claims the 2016 Red Bull Cape Fear in Sydney. Photo: Brett Hemmings/Red Bull Content Pool Russell Bierke claims the 2016 Red Bull Cape Fear in Sydney. Photo: Brett Hemmings/Red Bull Content Pool