The boil is where the wave usually starts to stand up and those are 10' guns. Do the math. This wave is every bit of 60 ft.
This shot was taken the before the start of one of the greatest big wave contests in history. Russ was an alternate but made a made quite a statement without even putting on a jersey. Ever stylish. Always humble. Definitely charging.
One of best things about shooting big uncrowded waves is you get a chance to shoot a lot of empty line-ups. As with every premiere surf session, the ocean is the main attraction.
In what is possibly one of the most crazed big wave missions of our careers, Greg was rewarded the XXL Paddle In Wave of the Year for this beast.
His efforts started in Hawaii two days prior with a big session at Waimea followed by a red eye flight to Mavs. I picked he and Healey up at SFO with two skis and headed for Half Moon Bay. Denied by fog, we made a beeline for Monterrey to surf Pescadero Point. Greg drove 120 miles wearing his wetsuit. After a somewhat successful surf at Ghost Trees, we exited the water at dark, piled in the van and headed for the border. 12 hours and 2 speeding tickets later, we arrived in Ensenada Harbor at dawn. Welcomed by an armed security guard and a chained off launch ramp, we were told the harbor was closed because the swell was too large. Not to be deterred, we devised a plan. Luring the security away from the ramp momentarily, we unhooked the trailer, let the air out of the tires giving it just enough clearance to fit under the chain, and lowered it down the ramp with a rope. As we frantically loaded our boards mid-harbor, an enraged security returned yelling we would all be arrested upon our return.
Per Greg, "The waves were the largest and most difficult I had ever seen out at Todos but despite the adversities, we anchored our skis, and paddled out. There were historic wipeouts, and clean-up sets but we all managed to paddle into a few of the biggest rides of our lives. For me, this session marked the beginning of the big wave paddle revolution as we realized we hadn't even come close to reaching our limits paddling into big waves. Nearly 8 winter seasons have passed since we've had a session of this magnitude out there. In that time the sport and level of performance has come a very long way, and It will surely be another historic day when we are graced with a swell of such epic proportions again. Oh yeah, and the only thing waiting for us back at the harbor that evening were celebratory drinks and high fives."
Greg spends more time analyzing conditions and forecast than anyone I know. His dedication to being in the right place at the right time usually pays off.
To some extent, we are all defined by the company we keep. If that is the case, I feel honored to have experienced so much with these three amazing humans. Thank you for being who you are, in and out of the water.
If Aquaman were real, he'd look something like Mark Healey, minus a few freckles. He swims with white sharks, spends more time underwater than most seafaring creatures, lights himself on fire as a stuntman, jumps out of planes and can hold his breath for 5 minutes. And that's usually all before breakfast.
When slabs became all the rage a few years back, Australia was leading the charge with more terrifying waves than you could shake a didgeridoo at. It motivated us to find our own slice of the impossible. Before long, we stumbled upon an un-surfable, subterranean monster. Dark. Green. Freezing. Scary. Shallow. And sharky.
It had potential but none of us realized we had discovered Teahupoo's cold-water cousin. This wave was considerably larger than any other we saw this session or any other since and it was gnarly enough to win Mark the Billabong XXL Tube of the Year.
Jaws. The name says it all. And while the approach to surfing Pe'ahi has drastically changed since this image was taken, the consequences have not. It is arguably the best big wave on the planet. The best surfers. The best waterman watching your back. A natural amphitheater that allows for perfect viewing from the cliff and channel. Every time it breaks, it's like watching the Super Bowl. And while it's amazing to see how much progress has been made in paddle surfing over the last 5 years, it will be even more incredible to see where it goes from here.
Puerto Escondido is the most terrifying beach break in the world. You can get the barrel of your life or paddle in circles for 8 hours and come in empty handed. Regardless of which side of the coin you end up on, one thing is certain: you're eventually going to pay dues. And that's part of what makes it special. Surfers and fans alike are going to be treated to something special with it added to this years' Big Wave World Tour.