Frank Solomon is one of South Africa’s favourite big wave exports. Hailing from Hout Bay, Frank knows a thing or two about charging big scary waves with a coupla big scary Johnnies rolling round town. So in celebration of the Striped Horse Challenge, we contacted Frank, and asked if he’d kindly break down three of the most blood-curdling waves he’s ever had the pleasure of paddling. Here are Frank’s Big Three.
Mullagmore in Ireland is an extremely intimidating wave. First off, it’s normally freezing cold. I have surfed out there when it’s hailing so hard, you can barley see! And to top it off, there was snow on the beach and mountains.
Once you’ve committed to getting into your suit, you walk down these super slippery rocks and then paddle out to the wave which is probably about 1km away. The wave itself is kinda like a cold version of Chopes. You have a roll in take off, into a huge barrel section with massive boils. And not all of the waves are perfect, so when you commit to one, you are LOCKED IN. Whether it’s perfect or not. Line the right one up though, and it could be the wave of your life.
Everyone knows about Jaws. And to me, the scariest part of sufing the wave, is actually paddling in and out! When I am out there it’s fine, but getting there is a different story entirely! First off, you walk down this really steep cliff with a 10ft board under your arm. If it’s raining its 10 times worse. There are bits of rope and stuff as you’re walking down so you don’t fall. Holding a tiny piece of rope in one hand and a giant board in the other is pretty tricky. Once you get to the bottom, you have to try paddle out with a clumsy rhino chaser at a shore break with big closeouts breaking onto huge moving boulders. If you don’t time it perfectly, you might loose your fins or may even break your board before you get out there.
You scamper down these super slippery boulders and then wait for a lull before committing, and once you’ve committed, there ain’t no turning back! After a session at life threatening Jaws, you then have to attempt to paddle your 10ft board up these moving boulders with a 4ft shorey breaking and a strong rip rushing from left to right. It’s actually more difficult to get in than out! You have to coast on the back of a swell, let it wash you up the boulders, jump off your board, get a good foot hold, and as the water rushes back to sea, you got to scamper as quick as you can up the rocks, hoping, praying, you don’t slip! You then have the above mentioned cliff climb of death to endure before you can enjoy a frosty beer above the mayhem.
There is just something about Mavericks that’s really spooky. There are the obvious things, it’s cold, breaks really far out in deep water, and the rocks on the inside, well lets just say if you get caught, or loose your board, you’re in for one helluva ride. But it’s more than that, the wave is pretty much like a slab with all the power and energy focusing on a particular point. Some of the best big wave surfers in the world have passed away out there which makes it even more sinister. It has also become crazy crowded too, adding to the danger factor. I love the challenge of Mavericks though, and I still feel like I haven’t gotten the wave I want out there. Here’s to next season.