Welcome to the Search for a wave unlike any other… barrelling down the line at freight train speeds, folding into the sand bank with more force than imaginable. Join Luke Hynd, Tim Bisso and Gearoid McDaid on their journey to find it, and conquer it.
A desolate land emptied of everything but dust and an endless road. For decades many thought this was a road to nowhere… but things have changed.
This road not only takes you across the desert and the dunes, but it leads you straight to a wave that seems almost too good to be true.
The view, when you pull up in your 4WD – if you make it, that is – is surreal.
The wave doesn’t break – it folds, almost like a boat wake on a lake’s edge. And when it’s just the right swell size and direction, it folds onto the sand in a perfect barrel.
When Gearoid McDoid, Tim Bisso and Luke Hynd pulled up and saw this on day one of the forecasted swell, there was no stuffing around on the beach.
The paddle out, although one of the shortest in the world, is also one of the most dangerous in the world. Lines come side on threatening to pummel you into the sand, less than a foot below. So despite the rush to get out and into the barrel, the boys were cautious. In a situation like this, timing is everything.
Louie pulled in first. As a goofy-footer, this place is what his dreams are made of. It’s been on his bucket list for a long time, and he wasn’t about to waste any time in ticking it off.
The drop is one of the hardest parts of mastering this wave, or even beginning to understand it. Like a freight train barrelling down the line, the wave stops for no one – and you’ve got to know exactly when to hop on. Here’s Tim Bisso, putting on a demonstration.
What is hard to comprehend is not only the speed of this wave, but also the depth. Luke, here, is outrunning a barrel that would send him head first into the sand bank just below.
Gearoid McDaid, the Irishman of the group, had also dreamt of this wave for quite some time. Most goofy-footers, if they believe they have the skill to handle a wave like this… they’d give their right arm for a chance to surf it.
On one of the first waves of the day, Tim Bisso felt the real wrath of the wave, dislocating his shoulder and putting him out for the rest of the trip.
“You look at it and you see these visions of you riding inside the barrel having the best time of your life. But ten seconds later the barrel has doubled up below sea level, and you are trapped in a nightmare on a dry sand bottom”
The others, however, were more fortunate.
They spent the remainder of the day – the smaller day of swell – dropping in and racing at a pace they’d only ever dreamt of.
Hiding behind thick walls of water, escaping the harsh glare of desert in the afternoon.
Trying to outrun a wave that runs for over two kilometres is no easy feat, but that didn’t stop Louie and Gearoid from trying.
“This is a deceivingly difficult wave. At four foot you might think it looks perfect – easy, even – but it’s fraught with a whole lot of dangers.”
By the end of the day the boys could barely walk back to the car, from sheer exhaustion – no less manoeuvre the pack of sea lions that call this part of the desert home.
Night fell, and the boys slept – full of anticipation for what day two was going to bring.
And day two, well, it didn’t disappoint. Louie and Gearoid woke to a beautiful, clear and stunning day. It was freezing, with eight-foot sets and 10-foot sneakers absolutely spinning down the coast, farther than the eye could see.
Maybe let that one go…
“It was churning itself inside out, and a lot of the bigger waves weren’t even surfable. But it was a sight to behold.”
From sun up to sun down it was lap upon lap, barrel upon barrel. This is the magic of this place, and when it turns on, it’s unlike anything else.
Louie, who did more laps than anyone, could barely stand by the end of the day. That’s what this place does – it gives you everything, but you have to be willing to sacrifice. With Bisso, it was his shoulder – with the other, it was their stamina.
“I think after surfing from the crack of dawn to almost pure darkness I would have paddled and walked around 30 kilometres each, probably further.”
As the sun set over the water the boys knew the swell was going to leave overnight. The trip was over. They’d accomplished their mission.
And even though Bisso may have been knocked out early, it was still one helluva trip for him. To just witness the sheer velocity and power of this wave is unlike anything else in this world.
The next day, in the middle of what felt like an entirely different planet, the team packed up and left.
The journey home is just as difficult as the journey to the wave… but the reward for overcoming these challenges can’t even be compared. And that’s what the Search is all about.

“My passion in life is to find the best breaks in the world, and combine them with the best swells the earth can offer.” – Ted Grambeau

That is photographer Ted Grambeau explaining how, just a few weeks ago, he found himself standing on a remote African coastline, shivering as the sun rose and the fog lingered, camera in hand. All surfers dream of this mantra – only few have the gift of living it.

“I saw a weather map pop up the other day, and it looked promising for this region. It was a bit far out, however; so I took it with a grain of salt. But as I kept an eye on the forecast I began seeing something that looked … exceptional. About then, a week after I saw that initial map, by the day that I boarded a plane from Australia to Jo-Burg, I was convinced it was going to be a swell to remember.”

Joining Ted on his mission was Australia’s Luke Hynd, the Guadalupe’s Tim Bisso and Ireland’s Gearoid McDaid. Louie and Gearoid were in Africa for a WQS at the time, and had been planning strike missions of their own.

“I had already booked my tickets and was at the airport, en route, when I got the call,” says Gearoid, a thick Irish accent breaking up on the phone line. “I had no idea what I was going to do when I got there, so it was a relief to have a plan in place all of a sudden.”

For Louie, the lead-up to this trip was extensive, although short-lived. “This wave has always been number one on my bucket list. Mostly because of how mind-bendingly long and perfect it is, and as a goofy-footer, I’m always looking for long barrelling lefts. So when Ted gave me the call, I hung up the phone and booked my flights then and there. Ted wasn’t even 100 per cent locked in yet, so I was planning just to wing the entire trip solo, all for the chance to get the wave of my life.”

The journey itself is the first test of this wave.

No matter where in the world you’re coming from, the time and effort it takes to get to this wave pushes you to your limits. If and when you actually make it through the final flight, and are finally ready to load your boards into the 4WD (that you’ve spent half a day chasing down) – chances are, some of those boards won’t be there. Once you resign yourself to that fact, you begin the drive from the airport to town across one of the most desolate places on earth.

You begin seeing a string of cars, rusted, sand-crusted, half-assembled, strewn across the dusty dunes. These cars are abandoned, so deeply bogged getting them out would have been an impossibility. Here you are, on what feels like an entirely different planet, driving across a desert wasteland of cars.

The wave is running like an actual dream. You look at it and you see these visions of you riding inside the barrel having the best time of your life. But ten seconds later the barrel has doubled up below sea level, and you are trapped in a nightmare on a dry sand bottom. This wave will take you down, like a roller coaster into the darkness – Tim Bisso

But three young chargers with nothing to lose, mixed with two highly determined veteran photographers, is a potent combination, and the team made it to the wave as quickly and swiftly as possible.

“It’s about as far away from home for me as you can fly,” says Louie, “so it was a lot of travelling time, but worth every minute and penny. Waking up that first day of swell, just the butterflies of anticipation were enough. Then, as we drove over the sand dunes and I caught my first glimpse of the wave in all its glory … that was one of the most exciting and surreal moments I’ve ever had.”

At dusk, the air is freezing cold – a certain kind of chill you only find in very remote deserts. Sharp. Eerie. A thick ocean fog almost always lingers along the coastline, drawn out of the cold-water temperatures running up the coast.

And as the boys drive over the dunes they’re greeted by this scene, barely able to decipher the six-foot lines approaching the coast, breaking perfectly along it, a relatively strong offshore whipping the ocean they race.

“This wave is completely and totally unique,” Ted explains, drawing on knowledge from past trips. “It’s effectively like a swell that runs down a point sideways – a mobile sand flat. It’s just a coincidence of the swell that it travels like a perfect barrel. It grinds.”

Think of a boat wake, and how the wave just runs down the side of the river and you see these perfect little folding swell lines. This wave folds – it doesn’t break – and it is made of pure energy. When it’s doing that on the correct tide and matching swell, it makes something that is seemingly un-makeable, makeable.

Louie, Gearoid and Timmy didn’t waste any time paddling out. As soon as there was enough visibility the three of them brave the extremely short and highly treacherous paddle-out. See, it’s so shallow that it’s physically impossible to duck dive at the impact zone. That, and the lines come at you sideways – if you get caught, there’s no escape.

The boys make it out without trouble, but it doesn’t take long for the barreling beast to catch up with them. Tim Bisso explains…

“The first wave I dropped into I basically broke half my nose. I was right in front of Ted and Paul Daniel, our videographer, so I knew I had to take the first wave that came before the current took me out of their vision. I dropped in, way too late, I landed on my feet and then the clip came straight onto my head. I slammed into the sand and dislocated my right shoulder, while extending a few ligaments in the other.”

This is a deceivingly difficult wave. At four foot you might think it looks perfect – easy, even – but it’s fraught with a whole lot of dangers.

The sand bank is super shallow and it runs for up to two kilometres at freight train speeds, and faster. The sweep is massive, as if the entire ocean is moving down the point.

“Some days,” says Ted, “guys can get swept two kilometres without ever catching a wave, then they have to get out and walk back up the beach. That’s not rare. And even when you do catch a wave, you still have to get back up to the beach to attempt to paddle out again. It’s a funny cycle to watch – early in the morning, guys will be doing laps jogging, but by the end of the day they’re nearly crawling.

“It’s easy to glamourise something that looks so perfect, but the reality is these guys are taking off on a sand-dredging takeoff that is extremely difficult and dangerous, and is so powerful that its size is often underestimated.”

Perhaps Tim Bisso, who suffered the wrath of the wave first-hand, described it best:

“The wave is running like an actual dream. You look at it and you see these visions of you riding inside the barrel having the best time of your life. But ten seconds later the barrel has doubled up below sea level, and you are trapped in a nightmare on a dry sand bottom. This wave will take you down, like a roller coaster into the darkness. It is by far one of the most powerful waves I have ever surfed.”

But with great risk comes great reward, and for most, it’s worth the extra roll of the dice. If a surfer is truly capable of this level of surfing, it’s just as Timmy described it – a dream. Close your eyes and picture grindier Kirra running for two kilometres in the middle of the world’s largest desert abyss.

After that first day the swell rose, and with it the fog. Louie and Gearoid woke to a beautiful, clear and stunning day. Freezing, with eight-foot sets and 10-foot sneakers absolutely spinning down the coast, farther than the eye could see.

It was churning itself inside out, and a lot of the bigger waves weren’t even surfable. But it was a sight to behold.

“We were surfing each wave for so long, and so far, that I basically didn’t see Louie once that day,” Gearoid recalls.

From sun up to sun down it was lap upon lap upon lap. “I think after surfing from the crack of dawn to almost pure darkness I would have paddled and walked around 30 kilometres each, probably further.” Remember, it’s been Louie’s dream to surf this wave – and he was willing to push himself to the brink. “Towards the end of the day I had to push myself through pain to get back out there, because I knew it might be the only chance I’d ever have to surf waves like that again. The reward of picking the right wave, it’s the best feeling in the world. It just keeps throwing sections on sections, to the point where you almost can’t handle it anymore.”

Louie added that although he considers himself pretty good in left barrels (an understatement), he couldn’t make it past the last section on about 90% of his waves. And if he couldn’t make it past the last section, not many people on this earth can.

This is not a wave for the faint-hearted.

It is not a place you will walk away from feeling confident about your skills in the surf. It is a place that is ruled by the ocean and the force and speed at which it can provide some of the most amazing moments of your life – and take them away in an instant. It is the result of Searching this planet and pushing limits, in the deepest sense of the phrase. It is a freight train unlike any other, placed in a land so foreign it seems planets away, and it is breathtaking.