As told by the 12-year veteran of the world’s heaviest wave, Ryan Hipwood… 

Ryan Hipwood is a surfer whom you may not necessarily know by name, but whose big-wave jams you would have seen photos of. Google his name and the keyword search will helpfully add a deadly wave next to it: Ryan Hipwood, The Right. Ryan Hipwood, Cloudbreak. Ryan Hipwood, Cape Fear.
At last year's Red Bull Cape Fear the 29-year-old snatched the barrel of the day to beat the Hawaiian Jamie O'Brien. “This is the heaviest six-foot wave I’ve ever surfed,” Jamie said afterwards.

Ryan's been surfing Cape Fear for nearly 12 years, since he was an 18-year-old trying to find his way in big waves alongside his gung-ho friends Mark Mathews and Koby Abberton.

Think he knows the wave? Here are Ryan Hipwood's dos and don'ts for surfing Cape Fear.

1. Point down. Like all heavy reefs, there's so much water running up the wave that you need to angle your board almost straight towards the rocks to stop yourself from hitting a rail and getting pitched. It's counter-intuitive but it works!

2. You can't hesitate. Everything moves so fast that if you hesitate, if you even think at the start, you'll get stuck high on the wave. Your decisions have to be… fast … or else you're going to screw up.

3. Know which waves to paddle. Cape Fear is honestly one of the hardest waves to paddle. It's got a real tight take-off spot, maybe four-feet wide, and if you're even two paddles too far out you'll be nowhere near the wave. You've got to be able to read the wave before it even hits the reef. And if it's a proper big wave you have to commit 100 per cent. You can't just turn around and whip under it. You've gotta take off under the lip, air dropping straight towards the rock, while the wave is barrelling over you. Sure you still wanna try?

1. Don't fall at the start: If you're getting whipped into the first wave of the set, make sure you make it at least a fair way down the line. If you fall off at the start, right near that keyhole there, and it's the first wave, you're in a lot of trouble. The whole wave goes dry on the rocks. If you fall and you get pushed in, you're either going to have to climb up the rocks or take the whole set on the head, which could be four waves. By then you'll be panicking and cut up. Don't… fall…off… at… the… start. Did I say that already?

2. Don't rush getting out. I've been more hurt getting out than actually surfing. When you're climbing up the rocks, huge six-foot surges of whitewater will roar in and out. Take your time.

3. The second and third waves in a set suck. By the time the third wave has hit the reef, because there's so much water concentrating on that ledge there's some crazy backwash happening. The first wave is good, but you can't fall off or you'll wear the set (don't No1). But who likes backwash? Not me!