Shark Island is an intimidating wave at the best of times.
Sitting out in the lineup on a half decent day, it is easy for a newcomer to get a bit overwhelmed by all the action taking place.
The hungry pack of locals are often vocal, letting others know when a set is approaching and making no drop ins go unnoticed.
And the wave itself can strike fear into the most seasoned slab-hunting veteran. The sound of the three foot thick lip hitting just inches of water is not too dissimilar to a rifle being shot in the air like a warning to all those who dare to take her lightly.
Backs have been broken, skin has been sacrificed and fractures, sprains, bruises and gashes are all too common.
Now multiply all this ten-fold when the famous East Coast Low swell sent mountains of water towards the famous patch of reef off Cronulla Point just last month.
On the day before this year’s historic Shark Island Challenge, Cronulla regular and photography enthusiast Heydon “Pluck” Bunting stood on Cronulla Point and watched as the beginning of the swell started to roll in. The winds were howling offshore and the sheer power of the swell made surfing the Island look like a suicide mission.
But Pluck couldn’t resist the urge to suit up and paddle out with his camera in tow.
“No c*#t out!?!?,” he wrote in his email to Riptide, seemingly perplexed and frustrated he was left to photograph the empty caverns with no rider to put the size into perspective.
Perhaps only a bona-fide madman like Pluck would be crazy/brave enough to surf in conditions like this, the rest of us would most likely watch from the safety of the point.
The next day the Shark Island Challenge would be given a green light and the area would be swarming with onlookers, bodyboarders and competitors. But this day it was just a photographer, a patch of reef and one angry looking swell.
All photos taken with an Ilford 3200ISO Black and White Delta film (for all you photography nerds out there).
Would you paddle out?
Keep an eye out on Part Two, which will feature black and white film shots of the Shark Island Challenge event.