RUSSELL BIERKE: The Story of the 2016 Red Bull Cape Fear Winner

Big wave surfer Russell Bierke is definitely one to watch – having just won the 2016 Red Bull Cape Fear at the age of eighteen, this charger is destined for great things. Many are saying this year’s comp was the biggest the break has ever been surfed, with 8 – 15ft waves created by a storm surge that has wrecked large portions of the Sydney coast.

Considering this is the fourth time Russell has ever surfed Ours, it’s pretty incredible he wrapped up the contest with a perfect 10.

Russell Bierke, Red Bull Cape Fear 2016

Bierke and fellow Cape Fear competitor, Riley Laing, first got their big break when selected by Mark Mathews for the third season of the highly acclaimed television show, ‘THE CREW: Generation2’. As one of the world’s most renowned big wave surfers, and the creator & event organiser of Cape Fear, the then groms couldn’t have asked for a better mentor than Mathews.

Bierke & Mathews first met during a surf shoot with Taj Burrow, where the trio took on The Right. Mathews & Burrow left with what is now known as ‘the most dangerous surf photograph’ ever taken, and 16 year old Bierke became the youngest person to ever surf this monster wave.  


We spoke to Mathews about taking on a mentor role with Bierke throughout THE CREW:

‘So after surfing down in western Australia with Russ and then also at jaws with Riley (Laing) I was just starting to really enjoy having energy from them and how good you feel when you motivate them and get them to new levels. I had kind of been following their careers already and they were phenomenally talented as big wave surfers.’ 

‘We were taught so much as young kids by older generations within our field and it just feels like it’s the perfect time now for us to be able to pass our wisdom on to these younger guys coming through and really help them out. My whole career has been based on Koby Abberton and a lot of older surfers taking me on trips, and I want to continue to do that.’

Mark Mathews, Richie Vas and Kid Mac put a call out on social media to find younger versions of themselves to mentor. After sorting through hundreds of applications, it was clear that Russell was one of three stand out Groms.

‘We decided that the best way to see the Grom’s potential was to have a trip with different challenges. Through these experiences I was hoping to pass on and teach skills that I wish I had had at their age, skills that I’d picked up on over all these years.’

Russell Bierke, Winner Red Bull Cape Fear 2016

It was Russell’s incredible dedication, skill and standout performances throughout THE CREW season that earned the charger’s first spot in the Red Bull Cape Fear event.

‘He’s put in performances that have had the whole surf industry talking about him and I’ve got no doubt that he’ll be able to compete with the best guys in the world.’ 

For a limited time only you can watch Russell Bierke’s full journey in THE CREW: GENERATION 2 on Garage for FREE! 

Hitup the link below and click WATCH MOVIE to view the first full episode!