Ben Mondy – The 5 Best Surf Sessions I’ve Witnessed In Person

Mondy hard at it. Photo: Swilly

Mondy’s Zelig-like knack of being on hand for key moments in surf history means he’s witnessed some legendary sessions – and no, I’m not talking about THAT Bournemouth reef surf. Here’s his top 5.

1. Shipsterns Bluff, Tasmania – 2000

Kieran Perrow on a mutant. Photo: Sean Davey

“Shipsterns Bluff had been surfed before 2000. Local Andrew Campbell had pioneered the wave, on his own, throughout the 1990s. Dave Rastovich and Brendan “Margo” Margieson had also visited the wave and filmed their exploits. 

But this session was the first time the wave had been photographed. And when a young Kieren Perrow and a then unknown Mark Mathews paddled into and hucked themselves over the ledge of a triple-stepped 12-footer, I knew this was a session that would go down in lore. 

Photographer Sean Davey nailed the shots, Tracks broke the story and surfing had a new premier big-wave slab. I stayed on the rocks. Obviously”.

2. Bawa, Indonesia – 2003

“On a surfer/shaper Indonesian boat trip with Parko and Fanning we scored flawless 10-12 feet Bawa; the Indonesian big wave spot made famous when Tom Curren surfed it on a fish. 

I’d camped at the spot for two months in 1995 and knew how good the wave was. But watching from the water as the young Parkinson and Fanning duelled amid such perfection was incredible. 

The fact that wave was destroyed by the Nias earthquake in 2005 only makes that session even more special. I was riding a 6’3”, having snapped all my bigger boards. None of those bastards would lend me one. After all, they only had 10 each”.

3. Dave Rastovich, Asu, Indonesia – 2005

Rasta making this beast look casual. Photo: Patagonia

“I’ve been lucky enough to share a few boat trips with Dave, and his surfing and personality are always a joy. 

On one trip we had three days of six-to-eight foot perfection at Asu, a heavy left also near Nias. It proved that Dave was not only the best tuberider I’d ever seen (and still is), but that his (at the time) quiver of radical twin fins and fishes worked in all type of waves. He remains my favourite surfer to watch. I doubt that feeling is reciprocated”.

4. Occy, Andy, Bruce, Parko… and me, Tahiti – 2009

“When Sean Doherty roped me in to help write a biography on Parko, we stayed at the Billabong cabin during the Billabong Pro at Teahupo’o. 

The boys had found a secret wave about a 15-minute boat ride from Teahupo’o a few years before. So we’d motor up before dark, surf for two hours, then return before their collective absence was noted. 

It was pure Tahitian perfection, and seeing that crew trade waves and barbs was the ultimate surf fan’s dream experience. 

Later in the trip Kelly Slater rocked up one morning, and leaked the location to the rest of the CT. The game was up. What a kook”. 

5. Mick Fanning, Pipe Masters, Hawaii – 2013

“The Pipe Masters is easily surfing’s best spectator event and in 2013, Finals day dawned at a massive and perfect Pipeline. 

I was hanging with Mick Fanning’s crew as he won two heats in the last seconds with some incredible First Reef bombs. He went on to win his third World Title that day, and it was a privilege to be around his friends and family to witness the celebrations and emotional release that followed what had been a really tough few years for Mick. 

And the piss up that night was absolutely all time. Or so I’ve been told. I slept in the garden of the Turtle Bay resort and was woken by the sprinklers”.