The waters around Point Phillip Heads and Point Lonsdale (Lonnie) are some of the most treacherous in the world. It’s the Route-66-aquatic for monstrous container ships, and even larger marine life. Poseidon could probably have drunk from this cup and been sufficiently satisfied. Stories are told of 250 kilogram sharks being caught off the Point Lonsdale pier, with a bronze whaler snagged by a Melbourne chap in 2008 requiring the strength of eight men to trawl it in. The place has some history to it.
Escaped convict William Buckley shacked up with local Aborigines in a cave under the Point Lonsdale lighthouse from 1803 to 1835. It’s also the site of a tasty a-frame bombie that’s screaming to be shredded by a water craftsperson. The master plan was set in place by Australian Surf Coaster Emma Webb and Harry Lee and photographer Heidi Atkins were quick to sign up for the ride.
Emma is the dual Australian women’s longboarding and stand up paddle (SUP) champion. In 2015 she represented Australia’s SUP team in Mexico at the ISA World Championships. Harry is a SUP racer and elite athlete having competed for Victoria at the Australian SUP titles this year and recently completed the 54km Molokai to Oahu SUP race in outstanding time. Two talented people separated by a decade in birth years and different life challenges, yet they share an outlandish thirst for stoke and adventure. This is their story of riding the Lonnie bombie accompanied by a rather large sea creature, and crossing paths with a Mediterranean Shipping Company (MSC) tanker.
They arrived at the pier and the photographer suggested Harry and Emma paddle out to the tasty looking bombie. Neither declined and they were soon paddling with large strokes out to a seemingly exposed and wild section of ocean. Emma on the shorter of the boards looked a little wobbly as Harry sped off. There was some hoots and hollers and pointing of fingers from Harry. “That seal was bigger than my board, that’s at least 15ft,” he screamed. Spooked, Emma fell off not too long after trying to paddle for a bomb, never has anyone scrambled to get their limbs safely onto a floatation device before, well, maybe just once, in Jaws. “It felt pretty dangerous out there, totally like I was in the middle of nowhere, I was just hoping for no big bitey fish under me,” admitted Emma.
Harry pulled into a monster and road it all the way in, past the heads, like a ship coming in to dock. His 12’6 race SUP allowed him “to run with the swell for a lot longer than a traditional surfboard shape.” The thought that he wasn’t wearing a leggie did enter his mind as he glided down the lonely bombie face. “Got the heart pumping, that’s for sure.”
Soon after, these dapper adventurers were lucky enough to get up close with a rather stupendous tanker. “I felt pretty tiny next to that big old thing,” explained Emma.
They wondered where it had travelled from, where it was going and what precious cargo it carried. For Harry, this is one of this favorite things about SUPing, “it gives me the freedom to paddle straight out into the ocean and catch bumps that you wouldn’t have a chance with on a surfboard.” Emma agreed “SUPing’s great, it can be done on any body of water anywhere at any time.” But, the hardest thing she pointed out, and demonstrated on the day was “getting the momentum to catch a wave and balancing in choppy water.”
Emma and Harry are now both in training for their next adventures, fun and professional. Harry is aiming for the next Molokai and Emma the next Australian Longboard titles.