Surfer Bobby Okvist and I started with a simple plan: to hunt down the largest waves of the swell. Hoping for an evening glass-off, we ventured back to the Wedge for our third session of the day. Exhausted from battling massive waves and long hikes from the previous sessions, I decided to stay dry and shoot from the beach.
By this point everyone in OC had heard of the massive waves, thanks in no small part to the live TV news updates. Hundreds of spectators and photographers lined the beach creating a wall over 10 deep in bodies. The primary challenge became finding a unique vantage point as Bobby waited for a lull to paddle out in.
Shooting at this location often, I knew I wanted to set up far down the beach at an extreme angle, looking into any potential barrels, with the sun as far to my back as possible, and the cliffs of Newport Coast/Crystal Cove as a backdrop. A crowd of photographers in my favorite spot pushed me even further down the beach. Adding to the challenge, it was nearing sunset. Light was getting both less and more acutely angled, creating shadows within the wave face and bright highlights elsewhere.
First wave out, Bobby was in position for the largest peak of the day. The wave was breaking so far out that when the refracted energy peaked, it crumbled. The wave chased Bobby towards shore, only to heave over and start barreling in the shallow water where a wave usually first breaks. Without enough speed to make it back to shore, and the wave violently closing in behind him, Bobby carved up the face and aired off the back, shocking even himself at the he