Following my instincts and supported by constant research of the weather charts some pretty exciting events presented themselves late last year.
Capturing those special moments that actually become part of historical surfing folklore, in what I must say were some of the most challenging conditions ever for photography.
Firstly Fiji, some swells just stand out and straight away you know they are going to be special. Of course they don’t all turn out that way so it’s a bit of a gamble laying down cost of an international airfare, and associated cost on a whim and a forecast.
Fiji not only produced one of the biggest swells ever, but became a magnet for the world’s best big wave athlete’s, both tow and paddle. It produced, arguably the largest wave ever ridden at Cloudbreak, a tow wave by Ramon Navarro as well the best ever paddle surfing by legend Laurie Towner.
Laurie consistently paddled over the edge to take the latest of drops by angling his rail into the lip and then carving around once it had taken hold. I must admit this is the first time I have ever witnessed a standing ovation from the worlds best big wave surfers on his return to the lineup out the back.
He had just pulled off the latest of drops from deep inside, almost where the tow guys were taking off, to pull in to one gigantic barrel and emerge down the line. Meanwhile this was occurring in the harshest weather conditions as a tropical storm was lashing the Island chain.
Rain was going side ways and there was no avoiding getting every thing wet if you wanted to get the shot. I had a $1,000 camera equipment repair bill after that trip, but managed to capture those rare moments in surfing history.
Other standouts were Dan Ross, Laurie’s partner in crime, whom also snagged one of the biggest waves of the day and then loaned Laurie his board after Laurie’s broke, remembering these boards are in excess of ten feet and are rare commodities as such. Dan is one of my favourite surfers and even more favourite human.
It was pretty cool sharing that particular journey with Laurie, Dan, Nav Fox and Woody, Gary Parker, and made all the more special by the appearance of Laurie’s dad whom described the day as the best day of his life.
Next weeks Photography Blog ‘MONSTER SURF AT NIAS’