As monster waves the height of houses bore down on a Cornish beach only one man had the skill and the bravery to ride them.
The sight was all the more remarkable in the knowledge that the lone surfer out riding the 25ft waves at Trevaunance Cove, St Agnes, only had one leg.
Daredevil surfer and St Agnes postman Rik Bennett, known as Pegleg, said it was a “once in a lifetime chance” to surf the biggest swell he had ever seen hit his home break.
Rik said: “It was breaking about a quarter of a mile out and the biggest waves were reaching 25ft.
“That was a once in a lifetime chance to surf my home break when it was that big. It was rideable and catchable.”
Rik confessed to being “a little nervous” when faced with the monster waves but said a certain amount of trepidation was necessary when facing up to such awesome natural power.
“If you’re not nervous then you shouldn’t be out there,” he said. “That’s what keeps you on your toes.”
Rik said storm Hercules had brought the biggest waves he had ever seen in St Agnes.
“It’s just a massive rush of adrenaline,” he said. “You are just standing there and going s fast as you can - you don’t want it catching up with you.”
He uses different prosthetic limbs for different activities and said his leg used for surfing gave him more buoyancy in the water.
He only returned to shore, beaten but unbowed, after one of the ferocious waves snapped his leash and ripped his wristwatch from him.
He was riding a 9ft 2ins single fin board from legendary shaper, Peter “Chops” Lascelles, who passed away last October.
Rik said: “If it hadn’t been for him and his understanding of waves, boards and me, I could not do what I do. I have total faith in my equipment and he will be sorely missed.”
Rik’s board washed up on Star beach, also known as Trevellas Porth where it was rescued by local fireman Stewart Whitworth.
He has been surfing for 28 years and said yesterday’s experience tested everything he had learned.
Rik had his leg amputated below the knee when he was eight months old but has never allowed his disability to get in the way of achieving his goals.
“I don’t think anything of it, it’s what I do,” he said.
He has climbed Mount Kilimanjaro and reached the Everest base camp - raising thousands of pounds for charity - and is the UK’s only sponsored disabled surfer with backing from local clothing company Finisterre. In recognition of his achievements he was chosen to be an Olympic torch bearer last year.