The Inaugural Red Bull Queen Of The Bay

The Reason Why Tayla Hanak Has Been Invited Into The Inaugural Red Bull Queen Of The Bay

Story By: Mermaid Society, Big Wave Feature Interview – November 8, 2017

Photo by: Ryan Epstein, Tayla charging in South Western Australia.

We’re nearly at the end of the inaugural Red Bull Queen Of The Bay Championships waiting period (October 1 – November 21), but that is no reason not to continue to celebrate and get to know some of the invitees to the event.

In its first year, the event pays tribute to the great women in surfing history, those who had no fear and pioneered big wave surfing in Hawaii; Rell Sun, contest director Betty Depolito, Cher Pendarvis, Layne Beachley & Rochelle Ballard.

Tayla Hanak is from South Australia and grew up surfing the wild south coast. She is on the invitee’s list and is ready to roll.

The waves can be big and raw thanks to the great expanse of the Southern Ocean and its swells that wrap around the bottom of the globe. So surfing exposed breaks at a young age makes you tough. Tayla said “The first state titles I surfed, it was five to six feet at a beach break. I was 12 years old. The second round of that same event was solid six foot at a left reef on the Yorke Peninsula. It was pretty sketchy. I spent the entire under 16 final taking off on the biggest waves that came through and lobster driving – I think I made one take off in 20 minutes.” With strong and a go-getter attitude running in the family, Tayla admits her Dad didn’t care if she won or lost that event, he said as long as she got the biggest wipeout award of the event he’d be stoked.

No stranger to the big wave scene, Tayla made her way over to Hawaii when she was 17. She’s not afraid to admit that Waimea Bay on a good size swell is scary. “It was the week before my 17th birthday when I copped 25 foot of white water on the head at Waimea Bay. I hit the bottom and was so deep my ears felt like they were going to burst. It took me nine desperate strokes to get back to the surface.”

Thing is when you surface on a set a Waimea you’re right in the middle of the danger zone. “When I reached the surface, I copped the next wave midway through my first breath. On that half a breath I got washed all the way to the shore. That was the closest I’ve ever been to thinking I was almost done. When I paddled back out one of the old boys was pretty surprised I hit the bottom.”

As a fierce competitor in the small stuff and an avid risk and reward big wave free surfer, Tayla was stoked to get the call up to be part of the event. “I really enjoy competing and love big wave surfing but have never had the opportunity to combine the two. I’m really excited to have just a handful of the best women in the world out there pushing each other to our limits. I’m extremely honoured to be given the opportunity to surf amongst the worlds best female chargers at such a prestigious wave.”

In preparation for the event being given the green light, Tayla has been working with a variety of coaches focusing each on different aspects of the sport. She says training includes a lot of time in the pool, as well as the gym and some long road trips to some pretty special places that test out her stamina and big wave skills.

And if the right swell does start edging towards Oahu she says she’s got a select group of people close to her as her support crew.

Tayla‘s big wave gun is a 9’6 Kirk Bierke shape.
Apart from having an incredible reputation in Australia for his boards, and being the Dad to Red Bull Cape Fear winner and charger Russell Bierke, Kirk is a renowned big wave surfer who has lived in Santa Barbara, Hawaii and all along the east coast of Australia. “I trust Kirk because he has charged some of the heaviest waves around and it’s no secret that some pretty hardcore chargers trust his boards. As well as my KB, I also have a 9’7 Stamps back up that Gee (Graham Smith) shaped for me earlier this year when I was in South Africa.”

Now we wait. Pray for surf because if this event runs this year it will be off the chain!

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