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Layne Beachley, Surfing world champion

"Back in 1995, I watched Munga Barry catch a huge wave at Sunset Beach in Hawaii," Beachley says. "It made such an impression that I have a photograph of it

in the loungeroom of my home in Sydney."

At the time, she had only been on the professional circuit "a couple of years" and the Gold Coast-born Barry was one of her mentors. She'd been shopping in Waikiki and came onto the deck of the house she rented with some other surfers when she saw him tackle a ferocious wave.

"I'd grown a huge affection for Sunset because of its unpredictability," she says. "It's both a threat and a challenge. If you don't respect it, you get kicked in the arse.

"The swell was about four metres and the wave-face height about six to eight metres. The trade winds were howling offshore, which makes it very difficult to see because the wind picks up the nose of your board.

"As he paddled into the wave, his head was down and his eyes would have been shut. He was paddling by feel. Then he took off so late he seemed to defy gravity. I have no idea how he made the drop. He seemed to be free-falling. I know how hard it is to surf Sunset regardless of wind and swell direction. But when you've got those up against you, plus the pressure of competition, well, to make a wave of that critical nature is just remarkable.

"Watching him inspired me. It taught me to attempt the impossible - and to take off late at Sunset. It takes a lot more than physical ability to make a drop like that."

But the icing on the cake is this photo of Munga Barry at Sunset in which Kelly Slater remarks about his favourite surf photo. “It is Munga taking off on a 12ft peak at Sunset”

Hey, even I would call this way bigger than 12 feet. This wave requires balls of steel, but do you hear people telling Kelly he under calls waves? Well, who knows, but lets listen to the rest of Kelly’s story about this wave.

“I was about 10 feet farther out from him when he turned to catch it, He really needed to get through this heat and was prepared to take a risk, but this was a heavy wave. The wind was blowing about 25 knots offshore and I thought I was way to late to take it, so I paddled over it looking for the next one. Munga was right behind me and he flipped around and took off. I couldn’t believe it, I thought for sure he had just killed himself, but that drop turned out to be one of the great surf photos of all time.”

So, do we really know any more about how to call wave heights? No, probably not, just call them as you see them, argue, then payout your over calling mates and have some fun.

I would love to hear your comments and give your calls on how big the waves are in some of the photos….let’s keep this argument going.


Munga Barry

Five-foot-seven Michael ‘Munga’ Barry made his name in pro surfing by being ferocious, and taking big swings at solid Hawaiian surf, with an absolute god-given talent for tuberiding in any sort of barrel, anywhere in the world. Munga’s tube riding was best shown by Jack McCoy in his iconic movies Bunyip Dreaming and Green Iguana. Munga was to the 90s what Dingo Morrison is to this era: The most barreled man on earth. His smooth surfing wasn’t only showcased in barrels though, as he was very effective at perfect venues, winning the Billabong Pro, J-Bay in ’93. In the same year he charged Sunset, dropping down one particular gnarly looking 12-foot west peak, famously captured by Joli and run all over the world, and surfed his way to 14th spot on the world tour rankings. He currently own Godfathers Of The Ocean Surf School on the Gold Coast.