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Mark Sankey discusses the merits and faults of EPS with two of Britain's finest craftsmen, Mark Dickinson and Rob Lion, both of whom have been shaping the stuff with style for a good few years now... [photos by Ollie Banks]

Four compadres take a New Zealand road-trip in search of lefts in a volcano's shadow… All aboard the good ship Peterson Threebeard with Dano, Purcho, Mud and Johnny.

A world away from the average commercial surf competition, pushy dads and nervous groms, generations share the stoke at a contest that celebrates the original Hawaiian spirit. This is truly a unique perspective in surfing. Photos: Yves S

Hidden away in a Falmouth boatyard among the classic lines of traditional timber ships is an unusual surfboard factory: one in which the boards are finished with wood and natural oils. Here tradition meets modernism. This is Glass Tiger. Words: Mark Sankey Action photos: Kirstin Prisk Other photos & design: Alexa Poppe

A sign on the 130-year-old pier at Saltburn-by-the-Sea warns people not to jump off it. On a big surf day surfers make their way to the end of the sturdy 206 metre structure and jump like lemmings into the cold, murky North Sea. Words: Simon Palmer Photos: Ian Forsyth

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Homeless at fourteen, prison by eighteen, Jonny Gibbings endured a violent and difficult start to life, resulting in being illiterate until late teens. Now a published author Jonny talks to Drift and shares his lifelong passion for Surf.


Mark Visser | Operation Deep Blue


September 02, 2011 | Words By:

This time around, Mark Visser isn’t riding a 40ft wave at night, he’s jumping from a plane into massive storm swells in the middle of the open ocean to surf what has never been accomplished and he’s doing it with satellite technology.


Almost seven months after his first undertaking with “Night Rider”, 28-year-old Australian athlete Mark Visser has been training with Navy Seals and a variety of specialized experts to complete his next “Nine Lives” project titled, “Operation Deep Blue”.

Operation Deep Blue follows Visser and researchers from the International Aerospace Centre as they discover massive waves located thousands of miles from land. These freak waves have been responsible for sinking ocean-liners, naval vessels and destroying oil rigs. This natural ocean phenomenon can create waves that reach heights of 100ft. Until now, they have been nearly impossible to predict and no athlete has ever gone to these lengths to find them. Not only is Visser finding these waves, he’s surfing them.

Everyone knew that these rogue waves were out there. We knew that they were bigger than 80 feet,” said Visser. “The hardest part was figuring out how to get out into the middle of the ocean.”

In order to get to the waves in time, both he and his crew (including his jet skis strapped tightly with his surf boards) dropped from the air into outer sea locations where a seaplane could not land and helicopters did not have the fuel range. These areas take up to four days to reach on a boat, so airdropping is the only option in order to arrive at the optimal window for surfing conditions.

This project was really terrifying. Being out in the middle of the ocean without seeing a speck of land is a very humbling experience and you definitely feel very, very alone out there,” explained Visser.

Photo Credit: Dallas Olsen

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13 Comments


  1. SaulSurfer says:

    Absolutely amazing…..but someone has obviously got too much money. I know surfing is incredibly self indulgent at times, but surely these guys could have found some big waves to ride in a more accessible, yet still uncrowded location and used some of the cash this project cost to help some people who really need it. A little bit sick in my opinion, but I suppose these are incredibly selfish times that we live in. Rant over…..apologies. Must have been ruddy scary/exciting mind.

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  2. Exciting adventure and obviously takes lots of guts…..but must ask: if it is so far offshore that boats take 4 days and it is too far for helos and gear/surfers have to jump out of a plane, then how do they get back/picked up/etc???? Seems there must have been a pre-staged boat on hand in the vicinity…anybody got an answer???
    j.

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  3. Hey just as a rebuttal to that. While I know where you are coming from about the expense, still every human endevour could be looked at like that. Moon flight, interplanetary exploration, exploring the oceans. All of those are an expensive proposition, and the more extreme the more expensive. For that matter, all of the great projects and architechtural wonders that grace our world were done at great expense. Not to try and say that this was on that level, but it sort of was. It is an expansion of the bounds of human capability and that’s a pretty cool thing. We can’t stop growing. We need this too.

    Ideally we should do both, but I don’t think that I would equate this with the behavior of selfish banks and corporations that don’t care at all about the world other than what they can rape out of it.

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  4. @ SaulSurfer

    That was my first thought exactly. I’m glad other people see how wasteful this is. Surfing should be about getting closer to the earth in order to realize that we don’t need material things to live a full life. And when we put less effort into material things, we don’t push money and resources away from people who need them to live comfortably.

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  5. Really don’t get this. So he gets dropped of in the middle of the ocean where sea planes can’t land, helicopters can’t get to due to fuel and would take 4 days to sail to with a jet ski, how does he get home then, swim?????? When he jumps out the back of the plane it’s also obviously very calm, if he did jump out in the most extreme of sea states ideal for the creation of rouge waves and he ends up 300 meters from his ski how on earth could he spot it from the water let alone swim to it and start it. Get the feeling this is the creation of the surf industry to try and create the most ‘radical’ and ‘knarly’ experience dude. Will believe it when I see him sliding down the face of a 100 foot extremely rare freak wave 400 miles of the tip of South Africa but till then seems bollocks.

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  6. OK, I get how he got to the waves. But how did he get out after he rode them?

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  7. This site makes a little more sense
    http://www.couriermail.com.au/news/queensland/daredevil-mark-visser-parachutes-on-to-30m-waves-in-middle-of-the-ocean/story-e6freoof-1226127801145
    The guy has big balls but feel it’s not quite the story it’s made out to be. Very much doubt he jumps out in force 10 winds in 50 foot seas in the southern ocean waiting for a random 100 footer clinging to a life raft. Expect to see him however being towed into 10 foot ground swells in glassy conditions in the middle of no where.

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  8. Went on his website and similar comments about the feasibility of the idea, he posted this.

    Hey guys, I’m sure it might be hard to understand right now because the production team are letting out limited information. Just so you know when the boys are dropped into a location they land into what’s called a safe zone 1-2km away from where the wave is. The waves they ride are not rouge waves, they are locations on reefs (sea mounts) out in the middle of the open ocean. It will all become clear when you see the finished documentary. This program is all about the adventure and the quest to get out there and try something new! Thanks for your support from team Vis.

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  9. Has someone moved April Fool’s Day and not told us?

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  10. Release date ?

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  11. saulsurfersux says:

    @saul surfer – who are you to judge how people spend THEIR own money? maybe instead of spending your money on the laptop you used to type your ignorant comment you could have fed a starving child in africa for three years. Why do you draw the line at surfing in the middle of the ocean? isn’t what your doing every day selfish? Go hug a tree

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  12. surferchic says:

    When will this be released?

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  13. oscar concha says:

    What the @$#% god bless mark visser and his king kong size balls and dedication! I watched the training snippets of him preparing himself for this history shattering adventure! And whoever wants 2 talk shit about $$ go try any of the things this bad ass has done! And then say its a waste! There comes a super bad ass once in a lifetime with the heart,ambition,skill and blue whale size @$#& 2 try what this pimp is trying so %$#& yeah!!! Bro everyone thats seen your promo is 100% behind you and go for the gusto if your bad ass enough!! God bless mark visser and his pimp ass crew and i can’t wait For this documentary!!!

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