Layne Beachley Makes "Ours" Hers

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It’S the white knuckle ride big wave king Koby Abberton and his Bra Boys named “Ours”.

But after this stunning barrel at Sydney’s notorious Botany Bay surf break, Australian surfing queen and Oakley rider Layne Beachley might rightly claim it “Hers”.

“No. You’ve gotta say it will always be theirs. I’m just a visitor,” Beachley laughed yesterday as she recounted arguably the heaviest wave ever ridden by a woman surfer.

No stranger to breaking new ground, Beachley became the first female to surf the notorious break off Solander Bay on Wednesday, accepting the challenge of film-maker and photographer Tim Bonython to crack the fickle wave that the territorial Bra Boys guard like sentinels.

Like all first-time visitors, Beachley accepted the challenge of paddling into a handful of the heaving barrels that break only metres from a rock face, before she was towed into this monster that left onlookers in awe.

“I think everyone was looking at me going ‘aw, this is going to be ugly’ because I was too deep and then somehow I just kept so relaxed and calm and just kept looking for a way out and actually found one,” the seven-time world champion told The Daily Telegraph.

The bone-crunching break has been a closely guarded secret in the city’s Eastern Suburbs for more than 30 years, first ridden by bodysurfers in the 1970s, but it was only in the past decade that boardriders began taking on the wave.

Still buzzing after the session yesterday, Beachley rated the foam-ball barrel ride as the equal of the perfect 10 she rode to win at Honolua Bay in 2003.

“It’s pretty gnarly. It’s the heaviest wave I’ve ever surfed in Australia – for sure,” she said.

“It’s right up there with (the one at Honolua Bay). It definitely compares.”

Beachley was stunned when she was shown photos of her ride after finishing the ride. “I was literally on the foam ball. I wasn’t even aware of it at the time,” she said.

“I was really relaxed.”

Beachley, who had nothing but praise for the Bra Boys – who she said guided her into riding a series of waves without wipeout – said she was relieved to escape unscathed.

“It exceeded all expectations because I went there expecting to take poundings and pretty much watch from the channel,” said Beachley, who was encouraged by fiancee Kirk Pengilly to take on the break.

“I’m lucky. I didn’t fall once, which I’m sure if I went back I’m going to pay some serious dues after that effort.

“But the Bra Boys were really supportive and encouraging.

“They never put me down or made me feel scared.”

Beachley insisted that her heroics were not motivated by any notion to prove herself.

“I’m no stranger to being a pioneer, I guess.

“(But) I’ve never done it to prove anything or set any kind of standard.

“Big wave surfing is something you have to be really smart about and prepared to suffer the consequences of a mistake.”


Picture: Tim Bonython /


May 15, 2009