Core Stories | Marti Paradisis

Core Stories | Marti Paradisis

Marti Paradisis: The Six Shipstern Steps To Salvation 

Solo shippies session, could you imagine? - Shot by Andrew Chiz

For almost two decades, Tasmanian Marti Paradisis has been at the beating heart of everything good and gnarly that has gone down at Shipsterns. The 40-year-old firefighter is a surf adventurer at heart, but it is via the portal of Shipstern's raw power and unpredictable steps that he has carved a singular place in surf history.

There can’t be many more core surf destinations than Shipsterns Bluff, and Marti remains one of the most committed, decorated, influential and talented surfers to surf the big wave slab. We caught up with Marti to paddle us through his journey as a surfer and a person at a wave that he says has given him everything.

 

Shot by Stu Gibson

 

For almost two decades, Tasmanian Marti Paradisis has been at the beating heart of everything good and gnarly that has gone down at Shipsterns. The 40-year-old firefighter is a surf adventurer at heart, but it is via the portal of Shipstern's raw power and unpredictable steps that he has carved a singular place in surf history. There can’t be many more core surf destinations than Shipsterns Bluff, and Marti remains one of the most committed, decorated, influential and talented surfers to surf the big wave slab. We caught up with Marti to paddle us through his journey as a surfer and a person at a wave that he says has given him everything. 

Experiences at Shipsterns stick to you.

“One of the heaviest situations I’ve had at Shipsterns was very early on. This was before jetskis, and I’d walked in. There was a Billabong crew with all sorts of stars in the boat, waiting for the swell to fill. But I was frothing; a full grommet, desperate to impress and I reckoned I could snag a couple of good ones in front of them. 

 Shot by Andrew Chiz

 

"My first wave was decent, but as I pulled into the end Bowl it closed out. I hit a rock, which wasn’t unusual in the section we call The Shredder. Then I felt the legrope yank and I was snagged with my board on one side of a rock and me on the other. I couldn’t reach down to the velcro and after trying for a while I just started fading and lost all sense of reality."

I don't know how long I blacked out, but I sort of came too, and saw a bright light that must have been the sun. I was like, 'Right, I gotta get my shit together here. It’s now and ever.' With my last ounce of energy, I undid my leggy and popped up. Andrew Campbell picked me up on his ski and dropped me on shore. I sat the rest of the day on the rocks, watching the crew and then walked out. 

I’m a firefighter and only recently, 20 years later, we were doing confined spaces training, and that experience, that helpless feeling, suddenly came flooding back and really rattled me. Experiences at Shipsterns, the good and the bad, tend to stick to you.”

Shot by Kristjen Stokely

Well, where’s the limit now?

“I feel we were so, fucking, lucky. Our group of friends came on the scene when Shippies had just taken off and slab surfing was coming of age. We were part of our group of friends who were surfers, filmmakers and photographers. We all fed off the energy of each other because we all had the same goals. 

 Then we got skis and it exploded. We all had the same question; well, where’s the limit now? My answer was that I wanted the biggest wave that came through. My mindset was there was nothing that I'd pull back on. And because we knew the result was magazine coverage and money from sponsors, there were incentives built in to go even crazier.” 

Shot by Andrew Chiz

A line In the sand.

“I suppose that mindset went on for a few years until I had a few changes in my life. I was helping my sister go through some heavy issues and started to realise how important my role was in the family. And then, sure enough, the biggest swell we'd ever seen on any chart was due to hit Shippies. I was living in Victoria, dealing with personal and family issues, but this was the swell I’d dreamed of. I couldn’t not go. 

 "To this day, I’ve never seen Shippies in that type of form. 25-footers were breaking a dry ledge, then mutating and folding, completely unsurfable. I sat in the channel, and I said to my mate, “I don't know if I can do this.” 

 

Shot by Andrew Chiz

 

"By lunchtime though, the high tide had come in. I knew what my dream was; to surf Shipsterns as big as it can get. And it was right there happening in front of me. I went, ‘Right, I’m going to fucking get a couple of waves and get this done. And then we're going to go home safe. It's going to be all good."

I took a more calculated approach and was far more patient. Eventually, I caught a huge one that broke way outside the normal takeoff spot and got a highline barrel on the end section. It was, by some margin, the biggest wave I have ever had at Shippies. Everyone surfed and everyone made it home that day, but I knew that something had changed for me. It was a line in the sand.”  

It's justice, it's law, it's the vibe…

As younger surfers our crew would make the Tasmanian team and go to the Nationals Titles and we would be written off. There was no respect for us or the waves we surfed. I mean, the whole of Australia looked down at Tasmania. It was considered a shithole that no one would ever want to come on holidays, let alone visit for a surf trip.

 

Shot by Andrew Chiz

Then suddenly we had Shippies. We had something so special, and we understood that if we didn’t claim and respect it, then the mainlanders would come down and treat it as theirs. As a group, we just switched on. We had a real connection to the wave, the environment and the people. It was so important that we cultivated that connection so that this special place could be looked after in the future. 

"For us, Shippies always had this special, fun, vibe and we wanted it to be that way for everyone who came down. It was all about having fun. We would expect everyone who came down to surf to come and party with us afterwards. We wanted people to experience the Tassie surf culture and see why it was so unique. That special vibe is still there now too. It’s what we are most proud of." 

Letting Go Of The Rope 

About ten years ago, I had a problem with my jet ski, so I just started walking in and paddling and I kinda never stopped. You strip the experience back. Often, I’d be the only paddle surfer or one of just a few. The skis would be buzzing out the back, but on the ledge, there’s a nice vibe. However, in the last few years, watching the next generation has me fired up. I just got a new jet ski now and I'm going to get a new tow board shaped up and I'm pretty keen to get back into a few big days down there.

 Shot by Andrew Chiz  

Friends for life and good memories for a lifetime

That wave and place have been a huge part of my life. I can happily say without Shipsterns, I would have surfed nowhere near the waves I’ve surfed around the world. I really don’t know what the fuck I would be doing right now without it. It’s given me awards, a surf career and income from sponsors. Most importantly though, it’s given me a group of friends for life and good memories to last a lifetime. That is more important than any of the other bullshit. 

Every time we go in there, it has the craziest energy and what we experience is almost impossible to describe. I just hope I can help pass that on to the next generation and my family. Whether they surf it or just experience it from the land, if they can feel any part of the feeling, we’ve all had down there, then that would be amazing. 

Shot by Andrew Chiz 

 Words by Ben Mondy

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