The day I got that photo was a really special day in my career. It was at my local big wave spot and the swell was forecasted to be really big, one of the biggest swells we have on record for that wave. For those conditions to all come together – swell, wind, tide, sun – and to have surfers crazy enough to surf was just amazing. It was borderline un-surfable that day, the tide dropped and the steps in the wave were just going totally mutant!
Ryan’s wave this day wasn’t the biggest of the day but it was by far the heaviest. He had a lot of really serious wipeouts that day and went for the typical ‘one more’ call, and then this huge black beast filled the horizon. When it’s this big at Shipstern Bluff there is no two ways about it; you have to be towed into the waves by jetski. The waves are moving so fast and drawing so much water from the reef that paddling is just out of the question.
The concept for most big wave surfing and photography these days is pretty simple; get in the most critical place possible on the wave and then try to get out of it unscathed. The bad thing about this concept is that a lot of the time it doesn’t end too pretty! The surf was too big for me to shoot in the water as I usually would so I have to praise Ryan. Without his bravery, the shot would never have happened. To me, this photo is one of the heaviest situations I’ve ever seen a surfer in!
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