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10 FT
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Riley Laing

Riley Laing is still a teenager, but that doesn’t mean he hasn’t seen his fair share of slabs. A fearless young charger, Riley has dropped in at places like Shipstern Bluff, Pipeline and more. But perhaps his greatest feat to-date was his appearance in the 2016 Red Bull Cape Fear event.


He may not have won, but he punished his fair share of heads (and barrels), and took his claim to fame as one of Australia’s top young guns. Our bet is, he’ll do it again.

James Adams

James “Rooster” Adams is one of the hardest chargers in the world – but, if you asked around, almost nobody would know his name. He takes “underground” to a whole new level.


By day, he works as a fly-in fly-out carpenter, but on his time off… you’ll find him chasing slabs up and down the Southern Sydney coastline.


In 2017 he made the final of Red Bull Cape Fear, after charging through the battles and taking off on waves only madmen would dare face. Can he do it again?

Nathan Florence

Nathan Florence, the younger brother of World Champion John Florence, is a North Shore local and a worldwide charger. Made famous for his insane barrels at both Pipeline and Teahupo’o, Nathan spends a good chunk of his life travelling the globe in search of that perfect barrel.


This year, that barrel might be at Cape Fear. And Nathan, young, athletic, strong and highly talented, will no doubt be ready to take it on.

Taj Burrow

We all know Taj Burrow. World Tour legend, Western Australian charger, madman, funny man, and one of the best surfers on the planet. Plane and simple.


But Taj has another side, and that’s adrenaline junkie. Put him in surf with a bit of size and you can bet TB won’t be holding back. So, it’s about time we see what this recently retired CT surfer can do with a monster like Cape Fear!

Billy Kemper

Hawaiian heavy-hitter Billy Kemper has been around the surf scene long enough to make a name for himself in multiple different expertise. In World Tour events at Sunset, in big wave events around the entire globe, at almost any day at Pipeline, and most of all, at Jaws (Pea’hi).


Born and raised on the island of Maui, he knows the big wave better than almost anyone else – and over the years has used that to his advantage in the lineup. Let’s see how he fares in the lesser-known territory of Cape Fear… we know he won’t be holding back.

Perth Standlick

Perth Standlick is one of those guys who does everything – from charging unknown slabs to cutting loose on qualifying series two-footers – he’s got a repertoire that fits everything. His passion, however, lies with the big stuff.


Born and raised on the famous Bondi Beach, Perth has lived his life by the ocean and spent a good chunk of his youth scouring the southern Sydney suburbs for new and exciting waves.


Once Cape Fear became more of a known wave, he quickly became a local – every time the monster came alive, Perth was there to try to tame it. Now, let’s see what he can do in competition…

Justen Allport

Justen “Jughead” Allport is a man of many talents. A family man. A firefighter. A lifeguard. An adrenaline-junkie. A fearless big wave charger. Based on the NSW Central Coast, Justen is a humble guy – he believes actions speak louder than words – and his actions are, well, loud.


In 2016, he put on one of the most commanding performances of the Red Bull Cape Fear event – a feat that actually landed him in hospital on day one. But even just the next day, straight after being released from hospital, he couldn’t refrain from coming down to watch the action. You can bet he’ll be chomping at the bit to get back out there and show the world what he can do in big surf…

Blake Thornton

Blake Thornton is another Marouba local in the Cape Fear lineup, and like all the others, he’s known for his fearlessness. If it’s big, he’ll go, no question. But Blake also has a different side to him – he’s not only talented in the big stuff, but he’s got a smooth, powerful style even in smaller waves.


In 2016 he returned to competitive surfing, after taking a year-long break from the rashie singlet, and since has been travelling the world in pursuit of qualifying for the World Tour.


His ability to make a score out of a smaller wave makes him dangerous at Cape Fear, because he not only knows how to charge – he knows how to make a less-than-perfect wave look good.

Andrew Mooney

Born and raised, and still residing on the Central Coast, Andrew Mooney has made a name for himself over the past decade in both the free surfing world and the shaping world. And then last year at Cape Fear, in the big wave world…


By day he shapes surfboards for local chargers, by night he plans his next trip around the globe, and when the swell lights up… you won’t find him anywhere but the lineup.


Let’s see what Red Bull Cape Fear has in store for this underground Central Coast charger…

Ryan Hipwood

Ryan “Hippo” Hipwood has made big wave history – not only through his unhealthy adrenaline obsession, but also through the co-creation of Red Bull Cape Fear. Before the first event kicked off in 2014, he and Mark Mathews put aside their never-ending hunt for big waves and worked together to make Cape Fear happen.
But his accomplishments don’t come close to ending there. In 2009, he inadvertently made international headlines when he survived a two-metre free-fall at Shipsterns Bluff, Tasmania and recovered to complete the wave standing tall. As a reward, 29-year-old Hippo claimed a runner-up finish in the world’s most important big wave event, the annual Big Wave Awards.


Then in 2016, Ryan added yet another accolade to his list when he made the final at one of the heaviest big wave events ever to take place – Cape Fear. As you know 2016 was especially insane, and Hippo didn’t hold back.

Russell Bierke

Russell Bierke might still be a teenager, but his age sure hasn’t hindered him.


Hailing from the South Coast of NSW, he grew up around a plethora of big, heavy waves – and he’s thrown himself over the ledge on all of them. This was his training ground, and it’s the reason he has so much talent and so little fear.


From Teahupo’o to Shipstern Bluff, name a slab and he’s conquered it. But perhaps his biggest accomplishment came just last year, when he took claim to the infamous 2016 Red Bull Cape Fear event.


Best of luck to anyone he surfs against this year… because this kid knows what he’s doing.

Richie Vaculik

Richie Vaculik is one the biggest inspirations behind Red Bull Cape Fear. The part-time big wave chaser and accomplished MMA fighter is considered one of Sydney’s most courageous, and under-appreciated, surfers. Better known as Richie Vas, this Maroubra local’s knowledge of the unforgiving break is second to none, having spent the majority of his formative years attempting to tame the beast. Here? He’s almost unbeatable.


And it’s for that reason Mathews and Ryan Hipwood included him, and so many other locals, on the invite card – to prove that despite a lack of international opportunity, Vas and his Maroubra mates are more than deserved of top billing at big wave contests.


Star of Fuel TV series The Crew with Mathews, Vas is one Australia’s most respected competitors – humble, respectful and gentlemanly in every sense of the term.

Mark Mathews

A last-start winner at the debut event in 2014 and one of the main brains behind the Cape Fear concept, Mark Mathews’ credentials speak for themselves.


From a young age he was charging out at this death-defying slab, and over time, was one of the surfers who really helped shine a spotlight on Maroubra and the break itself.


Mark is now world-renowned as one of our modern era’s most talented big wave surfers. And in 2016, he helped sculpt and engineer the Cape Fear event that caught the world by surprise and took everyone’s breath away.


This past year, however, Mark has suffered a string of injuries which has kept him out of the water. Currently in recovery, he will not be surfing in the 2017 event – instead, his skill will be put to use out of the water, organizing the event, making the calls and representing the surfers.

Makua Rothman

Hawaiian heavyweight Makua Rothman has spent a good majority of his life inside heaving slabs around the world, and it’s for that reason that he was crowned the 2015 Big Wave World Champion. But after a lifetime of chasing and conquering heavy waves, the trophy on his mantelpiece has only solidified his place at the top of the pack in big wave surfing.


See, raised on the North Shore like many of his peers, heroes and big wave pioneers, Rothman didn’t really have a choice of riding big waves – we was born to do it. Always looking to get an adrenaline fix, his father began pushing him into bigger and heaviest waves from a very young age – and since then, it was basically history. At age six he was surfing Sunset and Pipeline, and by age eight he found himself out at Waimea Bay, being pounded by 12-foot monsters.


This man was literally born to be a big wave surfer, and he’ll relish an opportunity to claim victory over an Australian on his home soil.

Laurie Towner

One of Australia’s best known non-tour surfers, Laurie Towner is a freak of nature. He first burst onto the big wave seen when he took the trip to Shipstern’s Bluff, Tasmania, with Joel Parkinson and the late, great Andy Irons. On that trip he paddled into one of the biggest waves ever caught on film, and instantly catapulted himself to stardom. Eight years on, that trip is still one of legendary status.


Since then Laurie has just cemented himself further in the big wave world, winning multiple Big Wave Awards and taming some of the biggest surf to pound the coastlines of Australia and Hawaii.


His talent was put on the world stage once again in 2016, when he competed in the heaviest Red Bull Cape Fear event to date. Laurie might not have come out of the event with the trophy, but any man who dared to surf and came out the other side that day was a true winner…

Koby Abberton

Koby Abberton is a man who needs no introduction. Born in Maroubra in the late ‘70s, he was born to be a surfer. He started making a name for himself in the lineup from a young age, and when he and the Bra Boys released their movie, Blood is Thicker than Water, he gained international attention.


Koby came from a life full of family drama, but rather than wallowing in his self-pity, he channeled his anger into his surfing. Which is probably why he’s well-known as one of the hardest chargers at Cape Fear. He pioneered the wave and brought it to the next level, and inspired people with his story at the same time.

Kirk Flintoff

A former World Qualifying Series surfer known for his progressive aerial manoeuvres, Kirk Flintoff was a bit late to the big wave game. It wasn’t until 2008, after years of competitive surfing, that he realised his heart wasn’t entirely in it. At that time he decided to take the road less travelled, and he spent the ensuing years travelling the globe as a darling of the surf media. As he uncovered more and more waves, he slowly developed an undying love for bigger, scarier surf. He was hooked, and the rest is history, as they say.


In 2016 he returned to competition, however, when the Red Bull Cape Fear event kicked off in some of the heaviest surf ever seen in competition. Over two days Kirk scored some of the biggest barrels and copped some of the heaviest wipeouts we saw, and his name will go down in history for it…


Let’s see what he comes up with this year…

Jesse Polock

As the star of reality TV show Bondi Rescue, Jesse Polock is one of Australia’s most recognizable faces. Throughout the show the cameras follow him, and his co-workers, as they save lives on a daily basis at Australia’s most popular beach. Not bad, for a day job. But it doesn’t end there.


Off the silver screen, Jesse shines brighter than ever, destroying big waves around the globe and charging harder than most surfers could even imagine.


This is one man who’s not short of talent or moxie, and if his 2016 performance in Red Bull Cape Fear is anything to go by, expect Jesse to punch above his weight in the water, and look good doing it.

Jai Abberton

Jai Abberton, the older brother of Koby Abberton, was one of the real pioneers of the Cape Fear wave. With the help of his brothers and some of the Bra Boys, he began paddling and towing some of the gnarliest waves at the break from a young age.


Over the years he’s been in the spotlight not only for his fearlessness in the water, but also for his appearance in Blood is Thicker than Water, and press around him and his brothers exploits.


But in the past few years, he’s made a choice to keep it all in the water. If you see Jai on the television, then it’s pulling into a big blue tube. A lot of the time that tube is at Cape Fear.


If there’s one man than knows the wave, it’s him – will local knowledge pay off this year?

Evan Faulks

Evan Faulks is known as one of the big wave world’s toughest chargers, both in and out of the water. In fact, he’s probably most well-known for an epic wipeout back in 2011 – a beating that earned him Wipeout of the Year runner-up honours. A lesser-known fact, however, is that minutes after being catapulted through the air and held under a huge set, he got right back on his board and hit the next bomb that came through. Needless to say, he’s not short of guts.


Over the years he’s proven himself, time and time again, with countless conquests and death-defying wipeouts. His performance in the 2016 Red Bull Cape Fear event just solidified his talent and fearlessness, and even though he didn’t take home a trophy, his continuing presence in every highlight reel is enough proof he charged hard and didn’t hold back.


You can bet he’ll be chomping at the bit to do it again this year…

Dean Morrison

The third of the “Cooly Kids”, Dean “Dingo” Morrison never quite scaled the heights of the World Tour like best mates Mick Fanning and Joel Parkinson. But nonetheless, the one-time Quiksilver Pro winner has proven to be a giant in the free surfing world. Renowned for his similarities to World Champion and Australian surfing icon Tom Carroll, Dingo’s low centre of gravity has made him a barrel specialist, and he’s spent the best part of the past five years seeking out the biggest barrels the earth has to offer.


In the 2016 Red Bull Cape Fear event, Dingo came up against good friend and Maroubra local Koby Abberton, and although he didn’t come out on top, he sure put on a show. You just know that Dingo will be ready for whatever the 2017 event throws his way, and most of all, he’ll be ready to go for gold and take home the win…

Albee Layer

Although Albee is best known for his aerial prowess, it’s important to remember where he comes from – that heavy Hawaiian blood courses through his veins, and that means that Albee is just as capable beneath the lip and deep inside the roaring barrel, as he is above it.

Over the years he’s proved himself with achievements… like winning Surfer Poll’s 2014 Breakthrough Performer of the Year, and winning Taylor Steele’s $100,000 Innersection video contest. But he really catapulted into legend status when he released his hit movie, Attractive Distractions, back in 2014.

Keep your eye on Albee this year. Just what he will do when faced with the 10-foot slab that is Cape Fear, we can’t be sure – but it’ll be one helluva show.