The Ride Of The Year, By Mick Corbett

  • Ride
posted by James Willmott

Last week saw the Oakley Big Wave Awards come to Sydney for an exciting night of laughs and action, showcasing the biggest rides of the 2015/2016 season.

Hosted by Hawaiian big wave guru Makua Rothman and all round legend Ronnie Blakey, the awards are broken into three distinct categories, Biggest Paddle in, Biggest Slab and Biggest Wave, with an ultimate prize drawn from the three to determine The Ride Of The Year.

Determined and based on the surfer who charges all aspects of the ocean, the prestigious Ride Of The Year is drawn from size, heaviness and overall ability to tackle the monster itself. This year, it went to Western Australian underground big wave charger, Mick Corbett, and his huge right-hand slab at The Right.

We caught up with the winner to talk about the day itself and in particular, the wave that helped him pocket a sweet 20K.

How does it feel to be awarded The Ride Of The Year and be 20 Grand richer?
It’s a pretty epic feeling, you know it’s not like we do it for that reason, but it’s like the icing on the cake. I guess it’s nice getting a bit of recognition for your work throughout the year!

Can you tell us about the day and a bit about the wave itself?
The day was pretty solid there was a little lull in the arvo and half the crew left because they thought it was getting smaller, but half an hour after the lull it just got huge it was the biggest I’ve ever seen it out there. It was just rolling through out the back and would taper off a bit before just unloading on the reef. It was the biggest I’ve ever seen out there for sure. I was sitting out the back waiting and Jarryd saw a big one coming and he was like “Mick, just don’t even look its biiiig!” I was like “Oh no…”

He got me up on the ski and whipped me into it and as I got up and had a look down the line I was thinking it’s huge. So I’ve gone down it and sort of just tried to position myself as well as I could without going to deep and getting annihilated, I sort of rode it out into the channel and I’ve never done that before at The Right. All the jet skis were going nuts to get out of the way of the wave, then I came off in the channel and got annihilated in there I came up just next to a rock that was like 50 meters away from the break itself. I couldn’t believe I came up next to that rock to be honest, I was like “Are you kidding me?”

So you’re from WA, I’m sure you are used to the cold sharky waters, was that one of the stand out days in your big wave surfing career?
Yeah, I think the first time was 2 years ago at Cow Bombie that was pretty much were it kicked off for me when I pulled into that 50ft barrel it was just such a mutant of a wave to ride. It was just so big to ride a wave like that so mutated and kind of not perfect, it was a pretty big thing in my surfing career.

We did an interview with Makua Rothman recently and he was really passionate about big wave surfing representing surfing as a whole moving forward, do you share the same view?
I think it’s growing in every aspect really, the CT is getting huge now and it’s televised everywhere, now big wave surfing is getting even bigger too I think it’s just the progression of the sport cause everyone loves surfing so much. Everyone is starting to go in the water more and everything to do with surfing is going to keep progressing and getting bigger. The fact that it is big wave surfing to your average punters, it’s sort of unfathomable being out there, I guess it’s really good viewing for the public.

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I know it only happened last night but have any really cool opportunities arisen from the win?
Nah, not really just been doing a heaps of media stuff and my friends have just been blowing up my phone pretty much.

Your good mate Jarryd, who had the winning wave last year, towed you into it, what did he have to say after you came up?
He didn’t really get to see it but everyone was going nuts when I got into the channel I was looking at Chris Bryan and Chris Gurney who are some of the best photographers and filmers in the world and they were just shaking their heads going “What the hell Mick, that was huge! Probably one of the biggest waves ridden here!”  I was sort of humbled by it, I didn’t really take it in till I saw the footage a couple of days later.

Would you say one of the biggest challenges with surfing The Right itself is navigating that curtain section that throws over?
Yeah for sure, it only really gets like that when it’s either too big for it or a southerly swell, it’s not usually like that. Generally it’s like the biggest barrel ever, if you get a good one there you could fit a Mack truck through it, so you don’t have to worry about that. At that point of time I don’t know if it was the tide or if it was just getting too big for it, but it was starting to pinch and a lot of close outs were rolling through, I was sort of lucky that one didn’t close out.

How do you train and prepare for days like that?
It’s probably just a bit of core exercises and stretching, but the main thing is probably just the mentality. You could be the fittest person in the world, but if you haven’t got the mentality for it, forget about it. You have to stay really calm in dire situations. If you’re getting smashed, it’s the only way you’re going to get out of it, you just have to wait it out and stay calm.

Did you always see yourself wanting to chase these big waves? Even when you were a grom, did you see yourself ending up where you are today?
Yeah, I never really thought I’d be like this but I’ve always had a thing for big waves, every time we went surfing I wanted to get the biggest one, so I guess it’s sort of progressed from there and taken me to where I am right now.

So how did the awards night go?
Yeah the awards night was pretty sick I had a lot of my friends there and a lot of guy’s I have surfed with before so it was great to catch up with everyone have a few drinks and meet some new people!

*Images by Bill Morris & Chris Gurney