October 24th, Monday morning 4am and the alarm finally ends a night's sleep already broken too many times by the excited expectation of end to the lengthy swell drought.
The plan was to hit the road at 4:30am and to convene south of the border at 5:30am for a spot check. Models were calling 4-6ft at 12sec but being Sydney, the forecast is practically variable until its actually happening!
Arriving at the Yena carpark and I can see there are solid swell lines marching through the dawns early light - good sign. The rest of the crew Pete Sperling, Grant Schofield are already there, peering into the crispy gloom. It's got size and some sickness but its all ours.
We suit up and have the obligatory sketch rock off moment where we run back up the rocks like penguins being chased by a whitewash polar bear. Fortunately no one is sent to barnacle alley and swim out.
Up close, you really get to appreciate the depth and thickness of Middles. Being only the second time I had swum here, it took me a while to re-work out the narrowness of the take off spot and how the wave bottoms out below sea level. You really have to counter the instinct of paddling wider on the sets and instead aim for a deeper chip shot. Its completely counter intuitive but the only way to get the necessary speed to make the freight train barrel section.
As the tide drops and the swell builds some absolute mental nuggets come through. Not all are ridden/rideable and there is something pretty elemental looking over the ledge or down the barrel of the occasional mutant.
The guys give it a pretty good nudge with steep drops, closeouts, air drops, barrels and annihilation on offer. Its not always perfect or pretty but its helluva a lot of fun trying!
Ollie and Sperlo are the standouts but Im very happy with the few nice drainers that come my way.
If there is one thing I dont like about this spot - its the get out. Picking the right window to get washed up onto some rocks and hopefully stay there is never fun.
With large amounts wash and rogue sets coming through Ours - timing was going to be everything. Mine wasnt perfect and some decent skin to barnacle exchange occured. Still better than swimming into Botany though!
Even if you do have to pay to play its still completely worth it for days like these. Stoke-o-meter at 100%.
Photos: Copyright Ian McDonald
Has spent over 30 years of his middle aged life trying to spend more time in the ocean. Likes to surf, bodysurf, free dive and pretend he enjoys chasing big waves.