Burleigh Heads Surfboard Riders Club Inc

Former Burleigh President James “Billy” Watson makes the front page of the Gold Coast Bulletin!

December 6th, 2008 Posted in Latest News

Here is a story courtesy of Friday’s Gold Coast Bulletin.

 Front page!!!

Go Billy!!! 

A GOLD Coast lifeguard is bracing himself for the moment he comes face to face with the world’s most ferocious waves, the 24m walls of water — the equivalent of an eight-storey tower — at the surf spot with the chilling name of Jaws.

James Watson, who is pictured on today’s front page surfing in South Australia, has travelled the world chasing the biggest swells with friend Jamie Mitchell, but has never conquered Mother Nature’s monsters in Maui, Hawaii.


Watson said yesterday that from December 29, he would be awaiting the call to rush to Hawaii to compete in the big-wave, tow-in event.


“It’s a feeling like no other when you’re at the top of a wave, looking down at a 20-metre drop, nothing matters, it’s all about surviving,” he said.

“The adrenalin pumps through your body but there is a really clear feeling when you’re at the top of a big wave about to ride it. It only takes about 10 seconds to ride and for that small amount of time, funnily enough time slows down.”

The wave that turns boys into men at Jaws travels at speeds up to 70 km/h over a coral reef.

Sitting on the sideline watching anxiously is his mother Caroline, who has collected all the newspaper and magazine clippings featuring her son’s wild rides.

She said she supported her son’s adventures, but often ‘freaked out’ when seeing him atop a monster wave.

“I look at that mountain of water and think he could be dead in seconds, but he loves to do it,” she said.

“I’m excited for him.

“It’s extremely scary, but exciting as well.”

Mrs Watson said it was no surprise to see him heading to Jaws again, as surfing had been his passion since he was a child.

“It’s all he’s ever dreamed about. I remember him watching surfing videos from when he was really small,” she said.

The tow-in event involves half-hour heats, in which each team of two is graded on its best two waves.

Watson said the waves moved too fast so it was essential to work in teams.

“Your feelings are amplified on bigger waves, you know you are at the mercy of the ocean,” he said.

“The blood starts pumping the moment you let get go of the rope. Nothing matters when you ride big waves, you just see this big green wall of water and ride it.”

Mitchell meanwhile is well-known in Hawaii after winning his seventh consecutive world paddleboard title in the Molokai to Oahu Paddleboard Championship in July.

The 31-year-old has dominated the sport for seven years, competing against some of the world’s toughest athletes.

Watson had to step out of the World Cup Tow-In Surfing Championship in Chile in September due to commitments at home, but Mitchell and renowned Australian surfer Mark Visser competed, qualifying Watson and Mitchell for Jaws.

Watson said he was putting himself through rigorous training with three sessions of swimming and running a week.

He has also been doing breath-holding training to help expand his lungs, if Jaws does break on him

“There are always risks when riding waves as big as Jaws,” said Watson.

“Though with my lifeguard skills, I’ve got good rescue techniques.


“Jaws is the heaviest, most ferocious wave in the world … the best thing to do is stay calm and do your best.”





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