This past summer I headed south with a handful of the Nike team riders to chase down a massive south swell. Among the group was young Kauai-an Koa Smith, a surfer known as much for his funny antics as is penchant for charging frighteningly large waves. Coming into the trip Koa had recently teamed up with soft top board company Catch Surf as a way to have fun and mess around on some different equipment. Looking for a chance to get a few tubes on the soft boards Koa brought a couple on our trip: no one was expecting what he would pull off. We showed up to an already pumping swell, and it was still building. By the peak of the swell the boys had all had their share of absolutely insane barrels, fearlessly charging through 15ft beach break bombs. I was shooting off a jet ski when all of a sudden I saw Koa appear out the back on one of the other skis holding his 8ft softie. It was the peak of the swell and the surf was massive, I wasn’t too sure what Koa was getting himself into, but next thing I knew the kid was stepping off into one of the biggest waves of the entire trip. He faded this thing backhand and manhandled the soft board into this beast of a pit. He didn’t make it out, and took one hell of a beating, but the kid charged and solidified himself as hellman and future legend. Good on ya Koa boy!
This is one of my favorite images from last year in Hawaii, and the story behind it is a pretty classic one. Once again, it was one of those shots where everything just seems to fall into place. A few hours earlier in the afternoon I walked over to the house where Julian Wilson was staying to see what his plan was; there were waves out front at Off The Wall, but it was a little wonky, a little closed out, and really not that motivating. We sat around and talked for a bit before deciding that it wasn’t worth it.
Just around that time Herbie and Christian Fletcher and Bruce Irons came walking into the yard; Jules was riding Astrodeck pads (Herbie’s company) so Herbie was bringing a box of new ones over. We all sat out on the deck watching the carnage go down (if you’ve ever witnessed overhead funky OTW you know what I’m talking about): beers were cracked, stories were told, it was a great time with an all-star cast of past and present surfing hall of famers.
Just as the sun was starting to dip below the horizon a set came through that sparked Bruce, Christian, and Jule’s interest. Like it often does on the North Shore, things quickly began to change a few gems were coming through. The boys were on it. I didn’t have much time at all so I just set up right there in the yard and decided to shoot speed blurs in the dying light and see what happens. It still wasn’t great, but Julian managed to grab this one and weave through one of the more impressive barrels of the trip, coming out practically at Rockpiles. Not 10 minuets after this was shot the light was completely gone. The three surfing scrambled up the beach and we quickly returned to beverages and story telling on the deck.
Christian shows Jules and his brothers a new board
Herbie, Christian, and Bruce. Two generations of legends
Walshy has been a friend of mine for quite some time. From the early days putting me up in his parents house in Maui for months on end, to more recently spending two weeks in Indonesia, we’ve had some good times and scored some unreal waves. When you spend that much time with Walshy, one thing becomes clear, whether its 5 foot or 50 feet, Ian Walsh is a madman. Just a few weeks ago, Waslh played a key role in the big wave paddle session that went down at “Jaws” in Maui. The level these guys are taking big wave surfing to is unreal, and was unfathomable just a few short years ago.
Unfortunately I was not able to make the jump over to Maui for that swell. I was, however, able to jump on a trip to the Mentawais with Ian a couple years ago; and while it may not have been 50 feet, the waves were fun and Walshy was ripping. It was pretty impressive seeing a guy that paddles into the biggest waves on earth go out and punt airs and lay it on rail with the best of them.
Kenworthy is here right now, has been for over a week, and where here is I can not say. What I can say is that Kenworthy’s present version of here (this photo is a tad dated) is much bigger, better, meaner than this version of here. The now version of here is enough to make this version look like childs play (which its not) and leave you gathering your jaw from the floor. So just sit tight because soon enough we will be bringing you a current look at here: although we still can’t say where here is…