Welcome back to Extreme Exposure, a weekly column bringing you the best photography and news from the world of action and outdoor sports. This week Robbie Maddison surfs his motorcycle, the US Open invades Huntington Beach, Fenway Park will host a Big Air competition and more.
In a show of impeccable Internet timing, motocross rider Robbie Maddison released his short film, Pipe Dream, Sunday, the same day as the U.S. Open finals in Huntington Beach, Calif. Pipe Dream is the culmination of a multi-year project where Maddison attempted to get barreled on his motorcycle (yeah, barreled, in the ocean, check out the video below). He modified his ride with a pair of custom, polyurethane skis for the wheels that increased the bike’s ability to plane on the surface and outfitted his rear tire with mini paddles on the treads, like a paddle boat, to increase propulsion. Then he used a 65-foot ramp mounted on a boat to build speed as he entered the water and went to work getting pitted. Unfortunately, the project is still, essentially, a pipe dream, as he wasn’t able to get properly barreled. “I really wanted to get shacked,” he told SI.com. “I was hoping to be a little faster on the water.”
In order to get barreled, he had to back door every wave he attempted, meaning wave choice was huge: he’d try and pick a gem, race down the line and then shoot through the tubing section. But the swell didn’t cooperate until the final day of filming. Teahupoo was bombing at 25 feet. But the lineup was packed and the support team, lead by legendary Teahupoo local Raimana Van Bastolaer, decided to move to a spot called Papara.
That’s when Maddison took the beating of his life. He took off on a “west bomb” that closed out the bay. “The wave picked me up from behind, spat me off and slammed me down and then drove the bike into me under water, knocking the wind out of me” he says. “I hit the bike three or four times, then got a breath and took four waves on the head. Finally, the jet ski grabbed me out of the water. I was physically and emotionally broken. I thought I was experiencing my own death.”
The team was able to recover Maddison’s bike. “He just had to reach his hand up so we could grab him,” says Van Bastolaer. “But we didn’t find the bike for another two hours.”
The waves were not epic. But that didn’t take away from the compelling storylines at the U.S. Open of Surfing in Huntington Beach, Calif. With the finals on Sunday, Hiroto Ohhara became the first Japanese surfer to win the U.S. Open while Johanne Defay of France captured her first World Championship Tour victory. It was a big couple of weeks for Ohhara. The 18-year-old also qualified for the Hurley Pro Trestles in September after advancing through a trials event the previous week.
But the biggest winner of the weekend, as far as 2015 is concerned, was Courtney Conlogue, who took over the No. 1 spot in the ratings when she advanced to the semifinals. “I just put a huge target on my back,” said the Huntington Beach-native, who has two wins on tour this year (Margaret River and Rio). “I’ve worked my whole life for this and I’m just happy to be in reach and have the opportunity to win a World Title.”
Wicked Big Air
United States Ski and Snowboard Association’s chief marketing officer Michael Jaquet whipped the endemic snow media into a collective frenzy last week when he announced that the USSA would host a Grand Prix Big Air event at Fenway Park in February during the association’s 2015 Partner Summit in Park City, Utah.
Jaquet declined to comment after being reached via email as the announcement wasn’t official and won’t become official until September, according to Tom Kelly, USSA’s VP of communication. Still, after the huge winter the East Coast experienced last year, hosting a Big Air competition at one of New England’s most iconic venues is a pretty genius move, if just to hear Boston cab drivers say “Cork 720,” in the colloquial drawl. Not to mention giving perspective to how big skiing and snowboarding’s best athletes can go when hitting jumps lined up next to the Green Monster.
Surf is Where You Find It
If only the U.S. Open would’ve had waves like this in California? Today marks the public grand opening for Surf Snowdonia, a new wave park in the Conway Valley of North Wales, United Kingdom. The park is modeled after the original Wavegarden in Spain’s Basque Country and the last week has seen a variety of pros from a variety of disciplines—including long- and shortboard surfers as well as SUP and kayak surfers—taking a crack at the United Kingdom’s newest recreational attraction. The park is built on a freshwater lagoon the size of “six football pitches.” Here, local UK ripper Tom Rezvan takes aim at a couple of clean, 5-foot walls.