Garrett McNamara & Kealii Mamala to surf glacier wave
Glacier Surfing the Next Big Ride for Hawaii's McNamara & Mamala
Surfersvillage Global Surf News, 3 July, 2007 : - - Honolulu -- Garrett McNamara and Kealii Mamala, one of Hawaii's leading tow-surfing teams, won't be going into hibernation this summer to wait for winter's waves. They're headed to Southeast Alaska to tackle tsunami waves generated by the cataclysmic collapse of the area's glaciers.
From late July through August 15th, McNamara, Mamala, Deepwater Films and a support crew will set up base camp on the shores of the glacial coastline as they attempt to "carve the calve" - seeking out waves generated by the calving ice that reel off for hundreds of yards. Their entire adventure will be captured on HD and HDV video.
McNamara and Mamala have been a tow-in surfing team for two years and are regular features at big-wave venues with epic rides of up to 70 feet. Last year they won the North Shore Tow-In competition ahead of an international field. Garrett also won the XXL Big Wave "Performer of the Year" award and became the first surfer to get towed into waves behind a helicopter.
McNamara and Mamala are always searching the globe for yet undiscovered waves, riding them to the extreme and challenging the notion of what was previously considered impossible. "In this case, it's not as much about riding big waves as it is about exploring a new surfing frontier," explains McNamara.
Glacier 'calving' in background.
"This phenomenon of tsunami-generating glaciers has been going on since the Ice Age but it has taken all these years to develop the equipment, technique and experience necessary to make an attempt."
Alaska's glaciers will be the ultimate test of their mettle, requiring a specially designed surfboard to cut through the ice debris, float suits, jet-skis, a sea-plane, safety divers, a support crew, a film crew, and an emergency medical team in the event that all doesn't go according to plan. The recent scout of the region was a fruitful mission, led by the Creator and Producer of the glacier project, Ryan Casey.
A dozen years ago, Casey 'discovered' the wave while working on location for his father's Academy Award nominated IMAX film Alaska: Spirit of the Wild. It wasn't the enormity of the 400-ft glacier, the massive fracturing of ice or the deafening crash and impact that caught Casey's attention, but rather the consistent, peeling waves generated as full faces of ice repeatedly sheared off into the water.
Back then, without the big-wave technology of jet-skis and state-of-the-art equipment and know-how, it wasn't possible to surf them. It's a whole new playing field today. "When the ice hits the water, it creates a massive explosion that rockets spray and chunks of ice - some as big as trucks - hundreds of feet into the air," explains Casey.
"It's that enormous displacement of water that generates the wave. The height of the wave can be misleading, dwarfed by the shear 400-foot cliff of ice behind it.
The glacier is highly unpredictable. You can't predict which section of the glacier will be the next to go, or how large the piece will be. Towing directly at the massive explosion of water and ice following a calve, Garrett and Kealii won't know if they are getting whipped into a 5ft. wave or a 50ft. wave until it's too late to turn back. But if anyone can pull off this mission, you can bet it will be them."
Excerpts from their recent scouting mission can be found on garretmcnamara.com and deepwaterfilms.com
Tow-In - Surfersvillage