Riding Giants

Riding Giants is up there with the best movies for depicting big wave surfing. Riding Giants is directed by Stacy Peralta and spans nearly 50 years of big wave surfing and its progression through the decades.

This documentary type movie starts off where it all began back in the 1950’s with Greg Noll and a small group of his friends surfing big swells off the North shore of Oahu, Hawaii with waves up to 30 feet. Greg Noll is widely regarded as the pioneer of big wave surfing and his burly physic was unrecognisable as he went for bigger and steeper waves… although it wasn’t caught on camera he is renowned for catching a radical wave in very stormy conditions at Waimea Bay when everyone else was told to evacuate the area!

The seond third of the movie takes us to Mavericks… a reef 20 miles South of San Francisco and with a 45 min paddle out Jeff Clark was the first to tackle these waves back in 1975… and he did so for years on his own. The waves at Mavericks were massive – over 40 foot, cold and unforgiving… while Jeff Clark was surfing here for nearly 17 years on his own it was on the day when a crowd of well known surfers came to the surf the break that one of them, Mark Foo, never emerged from a wipeout. The waves at Mavericks are crazy and the movie is worth watching for these alone.

The last third of the movie brings us to more recent times and the introduction of tow-in surfing… the brain child of Laird Hamilton. The waves these guys catch are unimaginable and a wipeout can be disastrous. Hamilton takes tow-in surfing to the limit and catches his perfect waves at Teahupoo, off Tahiti… the wave wasn’t the biggest caught but it was the sheer velocity and mass of the wave that made it nearly unrideable. 

This is an excellent film which gets the balance right between the length of interviews and the footage of actual waves. The progression from the early days on the long boards to the modern times of tow-in surfing is depicted very well and some of the wipeouts will have you cringing in your seat! Maybe the second installment will have our very own guys surfing Aileens!

The dvd can be bought at Amazon.

Rating: 4 / 5

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