Cortes Bank and SHIPSTERN BLUFF
Cortes banks are situated 100 miles off San Diego, the is a submerged mountain range 17 miles in length with its peaks coming within 3 feet of the surface. Fishing boats have been coming here for years with stories about the huge surf and big waves found here. However the pre tow-in days saw only the dreamers of what it might be to tackle some of the biggest waves found here on Earth.
To the mass surfing public the Cortes banks came to prominence at the start of this century, with Billabong sponsoring a group of surfers in a quest to attempt to ride the worlds biggest wave. Billabong offers an annual prize of U.S.$1000 a foot for the years biggest wave ridden.
The Cortez Banks picks up swell from any direction. They come in so fast that paddling into one of these huge wave monsters make it nearly impossible. So you'll need to have the money or friend with the money for the personal water crafts, tow in boards, equipment and a good fast boat to get you out there in the first place. Of course the way that the surf industry is heading there will soon be a surf travel company that will start offering charters out to the Cortes banks i'm sure. A good boat will cover the distance out to the Cortez banks in around 4 hours. So there is a lot of interest in surfing some of these biggest waves in the world by many surfers. Already there are many battles raging in some of the worlds big wave spots with too many personal water crafts crowding the line-ups.
The call is that one day The Cortez banks will produce the 100 foot ride-able biggest wave surfed of all time. It's close to one of the worlds most densely surfed coastlines being San-Diego, which is full of frothing groms waiting to tackle the Ocean at its meanest and biggest
Situated in southern Tasmania Australia in the chilly 13° water. So the full rubber at least a 4/3 fullsuit is the go especially from the Autumn through to spring when Shipstern is breaking at its most frequent. It's a right hand rock shelf come reef break that has been likened to Teaupoo in Tahiti. If the swell is over 3mtrs then the place is awe inspiring even if you decide you might sit it out. It can hold and break from 4 foot to 20 foot + in winter, but you want to know what you are doing. This place isn't for the the casual surfer. The wave can start at 4 feet and then double its size as it it jacks on the shelf. Imagine that as the wave you paddled into started at 6 feet or 10 feet. The shelf also can create a step so it can be difficult to hold at times, and the ever looming rocks seem to be their waiting for their pound of surfers flesh and as this place gains more popularity they are destined to recieve plenty. Tasmania is known to have some of the biggest white pointer sharks, and many like to hang here,so don't surf this place alone, cut your odds down even though attacks are extremely rare. Injury here is a main concern. It's a long way to a Hospital around a three- four hour journey. Paddle from the rock platform around the back of the break.
To get to Shipstern Bluff fly into Hobart and head out to Port Arthur. Park your car at the sign to Shipstern Bluff and follow the track. It's about a two hour walk. The scenery will knock you over, so plan for a full day with food and water, espacially if you are surfing. Port Arthur is about 1.5 hours drive from Hobart. Board size, well, don't go under gunned 6'8-7'4 Mini gun should do the trick.