Australia’s natural affinity for exhilarating coastal pursuits and its highly competitive sports culture has positioned the country at the forefront of aquatic adventures
Seven hours southeast of the city of Perth in Western Australia lies the Esperance coast, where the swells of the Southern Ocean come to shake somniferous beach towns from their collective winter slumber. It’s here, a few miles off the coast, that Cyclops, one of the world’s most extreme yet least-surfed waves, is drawn from the deep. The preserve of only the most unhinged of surfers, technical skills will only get you so far on this extremely unpredictable ride – the rest is in the hands of the ocean. Cyclops and its riders typify Australia’s great affinity for harnessing the moods of its expansive and unpredictable coastline. Anyone with a penchant for waterborne exhilaration will quickly come to view Australia as their spiritual home. So with that said, here are some of the latest and most extreme forms of fun to be had along all 25,760km of Australia’s coastline.
Board sports are going off on an interesting tangent thanks to technology that has long been available in sailing but that is only now becoming an option for the watersports enthusiast – the hydrofoil. Put simply, the kite foil is a foil or glider connected to a 1m shaft attached to a surfboard, which is powered along by a kite – effectively a small parachute – controlled by the kiter. As the board speed increases, the foil generates lift so the surfer is riding above the water rather than on it, enabling speeds of up to 40 knots without any fear of catching an edge and impacting the water. To put this in perspective, the Sunseeker 68 Sport Yacht’s top speed is 45 knots. Always-windy North Queensland is an excellent place to try out this exhilarating new sport. Get in touch with Kite Foil Australia (supplier of boards to current world champion Alejandro Hernandez Climent) in Melbourne for more information on how to get started.
Anyone who has surfed knows that the joy of gliding down the face of the wave is fleeting compared to the amount of often-tortuous paddling one must do to get there in the first place. This might be about to change however, thanks to a new innovation by WaveJet, which, together with the surfing industry’s leading board shapers, has designed a jet propulsion system to launch surfers into bigger waves than they could paddle into. Contained within a removable pod, twin aluminium impellers producing 20lbs of thrust are controlled by a Seatooth®-enabled wrist controller, all of which can be charged up in 3.5 hours. From sea kayaks and longboards to SUP and shortboards, the WaveJet system means you can catch more waves for longer, using less energy.
It may be some time before a bright spark develops a hoverboard for everyday use, but on water it is already very much a reality. What started out as jet packs attached to a PWC (personal watercraft) has now evolved into water hoverboarding, a much more dynamic iteration of the jet-pack joyride. Rather than water being propelled from a back-mounted pack or flyboard, the force is generated from the rear of a wakeboard, allowing for an acrobatic board-riding experience like no other. It’s must-have kit for any vessel capable of stowing a PWC. Franky Zapata, the French jet-ski champion has developed the best version on the market.
Subwinging is the brainchild of 24-year-old Norwegian Simon Sivertson who, while circumnavigating the world with his father and brother, dreamt up the idea of flying underwater. Starting with a tow rope and piece of driftwood some six years ago, the concept has finally been realised in the guise of the Subwing, a two-piece wing connected by a rotatable swivel. By manipulating your grip on each wing, you can glide underwater in a multitude of directions. Given that water is approximately 800 times denser than air, towing speeds of just two to four knots are enough to give the impression of moving at high speed. With subwinging, location is everything: Ross Creek Yeppoon on the Capricorn Coast is ideal due to its clear water and mangroves teeming with life. Otherwise, head across the straits to New Zealand and the subtropical waters of the Poor Knights Islands.
Anyone with a penchant for waterborne exhilaration will quickly come to view Australia as their spiritual home
Freediving has been around for as long as we’ve had lungs, but in recent years, the popularity of yoga and meditation practises have placed a renewed awareness upon our collective breath. Freediving then is the purest form of breath control – a test of physiological manipulation and psychology in a beautiful yet unforgiving environment. For those who count the ocean as their playground, honing your breath-holding abilities offers an enhanced sense of freedom for underwater exploratory escapades. Founded in 2010 by former world-freediving-champion Erez Beatus, Apnea Australia is a freediving school providing training and education on how to exist on a single intake of air. Courses run around Australia with regular classes in Cairns, Perth, Gold Coast, Melbourne, Bunbury and Sydney. You can also train with Erez around the world in the most amazing dive locations, such as Hawaii and Tonga, where you can spend up to two weeks learning to freedive with humpback whales in crystal-clear water.