While it may mean nothing to the layman, the name Pedra Blanca is legendary among surfers as being the spot where only the bravest, most skilled and perhaps most foolhardy dare venture.
Located in Tasmania, Australia, a combination of rocks, strong currents and unpredictable winds make Pedra Blanca a magnet for huge Antarctic swells of over 10 metres – and an absolute no-go for windsurfers. Until now.
This week Australian pro-surfer and student Alastair McLeod became the first windsurfer to successfully conquer a Pedra Blanca wave and, as the video above suggests, he must have nerves of absolute steel.
Surfing at Pedra Blanca is made particularly perilous thanks to the need to navigate your way through two treacherous sections. Riders first find themselves on a deepwater wave, which breaks over a reef shelf before building up again into a huge barrel wave. The incredible height and weight of the waves means that when wipeouts happen – and they do – serious injury is almost always the consequence. Broken legs, torn muscles and being knocked unconscious are not uncommon here.
Of course, reliant as they are on the wind for speed and power, windsurfers face even more challenges than surfers. Finding light winds on the day of his attempt, McLeod couldn’t match the speed of the wave on approach and was forced to sit on ledge and wait for the swell to build before scrambling to accelerate down the wave face.
Despite all these challenges, McLeod came out on top and has the jaw-dropping footage to prove it. However, he’s not the only extreme water sports enthusiast to achieve a world first recently. The past few months have seen the advent of synchronised flyboarding, the breaking of two long-distance rowing world records and the opening of an in-land surf park promising the world’s longest manmade waves.