Sunday, September 18, 2011

Operation Deep Blue

A few years ago, a young surfing writer asked me if freaque waves can be surfed. My answer at the time was clearly negative, since we don’t know where or when it’s going to happen and when it happens, it is happening in the middle of the ocean so it appears to me to be nearly impossible for a surfer to get there to catch the freaque wave. That was a few years ago, of course. I thought I gave a reasonable answer albeit a little simple minded. Well, not anymore! Earlier this month Sunshine Coast Daily published this article “Mark Visser jumps into storm swell” that has made what I thought as nearly impossible a few years ago a distinctive reality: modern satellite technology can locate and track the giant waves and the surfers can fly there to jump into the waves to do the surfing – why didn’t I thought about that possibility?

Here's the story:

With the help of satellite technology and a group of scientists, Visser is in search for the next big thing that of which all big wave surfers dream about - the 100ft wave.

The 28-year-old athlete has been training with Navy Seals and a variety of specialized experts to complete his next “Nine Lives” project titled, “Operation Deep Blue”.

"Operation Deep Blue" follows Visser and researchers from the International Aerospace Centre as they discover massive waves located thousands of miles from land.

These "freak" waves have been responsible for sinking ocean-liners, naval vessels and destroying oilrigs.

Until now, they have been nearly impossible to predict and no athlete has ever gone to these lengths to find them.

Not only is Visser finding these waves, he’s surfing them.

“Everyone knew that these rogue waves were out there. We knew that they were bigger than 80 feet,” said Visser.

“The hardest part was figuring out how to get out into the middle of the ocean.”

In order to get to the waves in time, both he and his crew (including his jet skis strapped tightly with his surf boards) dropped from the air into outer sea locations where a seaplane could not land and helicopters did not have the fuel range.

These areas take up to four days to reach on a boat, so airdropping is the only option in order to arrive at the optimal window for surfing conditions.

“This project was really terrifying.

"Being out in the middle of the ocean without seeing a speck of land is a very humbling experience and you definitely feel very, very alone out there,” Visser said.

The article completes with a video and this breathtaking picture of the Operation Deep Blue project.

How can we not deeply appreciate and admire the courage and innovation of the surfer and his surfing team to successfully carried out this incredible operation? For ordinary people like me may considered it nearly impossible, but for an extraordinarily courageous young surfer like Mr. Visser, I don't think the word "impossible" had ever entering his mind! All the best to him in his future ventures. God speed!

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