By the nature of the wave itself, there’s no physical way it could ever be truly “perfect”. Shipstern’s Bluff is a mutant, a misfit, tucked away on it’s own island like something straight out of Rudolph The Red Nosed Reindeer. But just as we learned in that childhood Xmas flick, every misfit has its day – and all those imperfections? Well, they are exactly what make the place so great.

Just recently, Tasmania based photographer Stu Gibson chose to camp out at the famed bluff with fellow photographer Andy Chisholm and hellman Mikey Brennan for an up-close embrace of the first real swell of the season. Stu explains the experience:

“Camping at Shippies is nice for a photographer because it gives us the opportunity to get cool shots other than just surf photos. There’s a great little camp spot right there on top of the wave – you just have to hike down with all of your gear and setup shop.

When we got down there the day before it was still flat. We had ourselves a glass of wine after dinner, shot some sunset photos and went to bed with the anticipation of knowing that the swell was due to fill in overnight.

Around 4am, the waves started to wake us all up and we could tell it was pumping. The sun cleared the cliffs around 7 or so and we were the first to jump on it. As far as conditions go, it was probably the best I’ve ever seen there – clear skies, the sun was shining and the water was beautiful and blue.”

But despite the picture perfect start to the day, it didn’t end well for everyone.

“On maybe his third or fourth wave, Mikey got clamped and ended up getting pretty worked. His leg rope slung his board back at his face. It split his mouth open and actually hit him so hard that it drove up through his cheek almost to his eye – breaking his cheekbone in the process. It was pretty heavy, but he’s a champ and should be alright in about three to four weeks.

All in all though it was a pretty amazing day. I tend to miss a lot of swells back at home these days, so it was great to catch up with old friends and get back into the swing of things at a wave that I’ve shot since day one.”

All photos by Stu Gibson

Surfers in order of photo appearance: Marti Paradisis, Brett Burcher, Russel Bierke, Brett Burcher, Rudi Schwartz.