Late one fall I gathered a group of America's next generation of young surfers, and we departed for Fiji to try our hand at an impressive south swell. Arriving at Cloudbreak to perfect conditions and an empty beach, we had an absolute blast enjoying the dreamy scenario. The young surfers handled the size and intensity of the menacing reef break well, and we truly had an amazing trip of waves and weather.
The kids consisted of Jake Marshall, Taylor Clark, Frankie Harrer, Colt Ward, Thelen Whorrell, Nolan Rapoza, and Dryden Brown, all young stand-outs with promising futures. They surfed for ten hours a day, coming in only for food or sunscreen. I captured them one morning in this shot, discussing in the crystalline water anything from the surf they were enjoying to homework they forgot at home.
Reflecting on the trip after we had gone our separate ways, it was not the performance of the children or the caliber of surf that made our adventure memorable; it was their social dynamic. I was fascinated by their camaraderie in the intense surf and realized that while the atmosphere was thick with competition, their friendship had them trading waves with nothing but smiles, laughing and hollering at each other's successes and misfortune with pure glee.