In thrilling fashion, Storm Surfers documents the legendary storm swells of the Southern Ocean over one Australian winter, as two middle-age surfers test whether they still have the right stuff to surf the biggest waves. The result is an electrifying spectacle of wave, water and man, as well as a surprisingly sensitive and insightful portrait of Tom Carroll and Ross Clarke-Jones, and of their friendship.
Directed by Justin McMillan and Christopher Nelius and narrated by Australian actress Toni Collette, it’s a must-see for all surfers, and has much to enjoy for those who prefer to stay dry.
In the 1990s, as their careers as top pro surfers wound down, Clarke-Jones and Carroll were not ready to hang up their wetsuits. These were the early days of tow-in surfing, where jet skis pull surfers onto seemingly unsurfable waves, and the two Australians found new lives as celebrated big-wave surfers. Now, they surf every mega wave they can find.
In an extreme version of shouting “surf’s up!” while grabbing your board and hoofing down to the beach, the pair, together with meteorologist/swell forecaster Ben Matson, use sophisticated science and the local knowledge of fishermen to track ocean storms and predict breaks, even far out in the ocean. Then, with boats, helicopters, jet skis and cameras, they head out to ride the world’s most dangerous waves. Spectacular images from tiny Go-Pro cameras bring us right into the barrel of those big waves. Breathtaking slow motion shows off the sheer size and scale of the walls of water. Just as dazzling, the camera moves alongside surfers at speed.
As impressive as the immersive camera angles and fantastic locations are, what gives this film an edge is the story of the men and their relationship.