At just 17-years-old, Summa Longbottom has already surfed some of the heaviest waves on the planet, namely Tahiti's hyper curl, Teahupoo and Portugal's behemoth mount of liquid fervour, Nazare – and now, Summa can add Cape Fear to her impressive roster of shredding heavy water after going toe-to-toe with that hell pit on Saturday, and may have just become the youngest woman ever to have surfed it.
You might recognise the name, Summa's the daughter of Dylan Longbottom, one of the world's most highly regarded surfer/shapers. During the pandemic, the father, daughter tow team shifted to Cronulla from Bali and had been looking for waves to surf around the area.
Forecast: Cape Fear
Going straight for Cape Fear, one of heaviest pound-for-pound waves around, wasn't part of the plan though and was an idea birthed on a whim rather than executed strike. But as the images can attest, Summa wasn't about to back down. After catching one and then getting washed on the rocks, Summa swung on two more from the back of Dylan's ski before calling it a day.
So we thought we'd chat through the session with Summa to get a feel for what occurred as well as find out a bit more about the teen big wave surfer.
Tell us a bit about yourself, how long have you been surfing and where did you learn to surf?
I am 17 now and started surfing when I was four in Bali and on the Gold Coast, I love travelling, hanging out with my friends – I'm a pretty normal teen.
Most people wouldn’t go near Cape Fear – ever. Has it been a dream of yours?
Not really, my dad has been surfing there lately as we moved to Cronulla during COVID because we couldn’t get back to Bali, so wherever dad goes I go surfing. I've been lucky enough to surf Teahupoo when I was 11 and Nazare when I was 13.
We've been looking to surf other big wave spots around here but wasn't planning on going straight to the Cape.
Walk us through the day, any nerves?
Yes so many, I stayed on the ski while we towed in Clint Kimmins first but I just wanted to get one as soon as possible as I felt the longer I stayed on the ski the worst my jitters were.
I felt I could do it and with dad guiding and towing me, I felt alright. We looked at a few until my first one came and I felt I let go in a good spot with speed but I had to sort of go around the first slab section and pulled into the end bowl which then smashed me.
I got rolled bad and got caught inside, copped about two sets on the head then got washed up the rocks until I jumped back in where dad was with the sled to save me.
I was buggered and took a rest on the sled. Then I went back out and tried two more which were even bigger and heavier but I pulled off as I was too scared to wipeout again so that was enough for me, I was stoked with my one wave though!
And talk us through the wave, how did it all come together?
It all went so fast, it was hard to pick the right one and so many skis out there with all the guys, my first wave was kind of a medium one and I just lined up all the paddle surfers and let go of the rope. I thought I was going to make it and getting a good barrel until all of a sudden I was going over.
If our records are anything to go by, we think you might just be the youngest woman to surf Cape Fear, how does that feel?
Pretty cool, never knew really but I guess it’s a big honour.
What’s next? Take another swing at it?
Maybe but hopefully on an easier day than that one, that was pretty heavy.