After two straight days of unbelievably intense action, Red Bull Cape Fear has come to a close for 2016. There’s one man left standing, and his name is Russell Bierke.
The event this year has been like no other surf event in history. On day one Cape Fear was maxing out – a lot of the competitors said that it was, by far, the biggest the infamous break has ever been surfed.
And the athletes all know the risk, but they deem it worthy of the reward – after a unanimous surfer vote to kick off the contest in 12 foot (+), stormy, seemingly unsurfable barrels, the action began. From the moment the horn blew all 16 invitees were ready to go – taking risks, pulling in and putting it all on the line. It was a degree of sheer guts, courage and talent that surfing has never seen before. These guys are maniacs, and the result couldn’t have been more mental.
There was a lot of chatter around the competition site and online… the general sentiment something along the lines of “this is verging on the edge of insanity – someone is going to get hurt”. But over the entire course of four heats and a final there was only one injury, which actually went down at the end of the first heat. Justen “Jughead” Allport pulled into a monster and it swallowed him whole, spitting him out with a bleeding head and bent shoulder. He was taken to hospital where he was assessed, eventually being discharged later in the evening.
Back at the event site this morning checking out the conditions, Jughead told us he’s feeling fine, just “a little bit sore”. “The boys out there were so good. All the pro-guard guys did an amazing job, especially Ryan Hipwood – driving the jetskis for us surfers – I can’t thank him enough because he was first there. I was pretty pumped when all the boys had my back.” A testament to the nature of surfing camaraderie and the professionalism of the safety team on the ground.
And at the end of the day, the man who helped Jughead make it to shore safely was also one of the men to battle it out in the final heat. Hippo, James “Rooster” Adams, Koby Abberton and Russell Bierke went wave for wave, barrel for barrel, pounding for pounding, over 60 minutes of suspense.
And at the end of it all it was the 18-year-old South Coast legend, Russ Bierke, who took it all. To top it off he wrapped it up with a perfect 10.
Photos Red Bull / Brett Hemmings / Ed Slone