Once-in-a-decade swells hit Western Australia last week, with the famous Cow Bombie break getting 30-60 foot waves. After the epic swells were forcasted, big surf chasers headed west. Among them was pro-surfer Felicity Palmateer. She’d been wanting to try surfing some “bigger waves.”
Here’s the nail biting footage from MySurf.TV.com of Palmateer catching the bigs waves on June 26, and her interview:
Felicity, at only 22, has most likely set a record for the biggest wave surfed by an Australian woman, about 30 feet. For some, pointing out that she is female will ruffle feathers, but the fact is, women only started surfing these monsters in the last 10 years, and only a few at that, whereas the sport took off in the early 1990s.
These walls of oceanic fury are the kind you need to get towed into by a jet-ski, as paddling out is near impossible. They have the power to hold you under for minutes and crack your body into broken pieces.
You can count on your fingers the number of female surfers that have taken on tow-in big waves, which are an absolute minimum of 20 feet. It’s a male dominated area of surfing—it’s expensive and highly dangerous, so it’s hard to get sponsors.
How did Palmateer work up the courage?
“I couldn’t believe I was doing it. Worst case scenario, you get out there and say: ‘No way, I am not doing this, they are way too big, and way outta my league, but you get the best seat in the house to watch it—or you catch the best waves of your life,” said Palmateer in the MySurf interview.
Despite getting pummeled by three 25-30 foot waves in a row before even catching one, after getting her ride, she was riding the adrenaline for days, even just thinking about it.
“Yeah, safe to say I’m definitely hooked,” she told Grind T.V.
Here’s a clearer video of her just catching the waves, no interview.
Maya Gabeira, a pro-surfer from Brazil, is one of the best at big waves, and is no doubt a big inspiration to Palmateer.
“Gabeira herself recoils at being compared to the guys. ‘Serena Williams isn’t going to win one set against Roger Federer,’ she says. ‘She’s awesome, but he’s bigger and more powerful. So, it’s like, stop trying to compare. I don’t feel I want to prove myself anymore. If I do it, I do it for me,’” Gabeira said in a Red Bulletin article.
— Maya Gabeira BR (@MayaGabeiraBR) August 4, 2013
Gabeira got hit by six big waves in a row at Tahiti’s Teahupoo break, and was “on deaths door”—for that she was criticized by Kelly Slater for being in over her head and putting her’s and other people’s lives in danger. Other’s are more respectful of her courage.
As that article points out, nobody even wants to be responsible for towing Gabeira in, because it’s so dangerous.
Now it looks like Palmateer has proven she can handle the big waves too. If she wants.
Oh, and in her spare time she makes beautiful art. The chick rocks.
— Billabong Womens JP (@bbwomensJP) May 3, 2015