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Brian Conley has made a reputation whipping into Mainland Mex beachbreak via jet-ski-assisted step-offs. But packing tubes in the more traditional manner is still an integral part of his program. “No jet-ski assist here,” said photographer Ryan Craig, “but lots of guys seeing that he’s one of the best in the water.”

Due to the sheer volume of flawless surf occupying the memory of Indo stalwarts like Anthony Marcotti, "best ever" days are in fact only the "most recent" ones. "Early May in the Mentawais this year delivered 10 of the best days in 10 years," said Marcotti, the owner of Kandui Resort. Here 54-four-year-old Ray Wilcoxen slides into less than one-tenth of the latest and greatest at Kandui. Photo: IslandEye Photography

A three-foot southeast windswell on the Gold Coast organizes into lengthy pointbreak runners: "I know they say that Kirra isn’t what it used to be," photographer Matt Kurvin reported back. "But any sandbar that can do that with an average windswell is all right in my book." Photo: Kurvin

Photographer Jack Belli takes an otherwise unremarkable day at Huntington Beach and makes it look like somewhere most surfers wouldn't mind paddling out. "It was late afternoon and we lucked into some uncrowded, good waves," said Belli of this session with Troy Elmore. "I do shoot a lot of longboarding and not a whole lot of real high performance stuff, I guess. Most of the people I know and shoot with consistently have more of a traditional approach."

Taj Burrow finds spacious dwellings at Rabbits, the beachbreak that fronts his luxe Yallingup, West Oz home. "It can be a tricky wave to surf,” says photographer John Barton. “For an above-average surfer, it can yield a very low make-rate. Taj surfed here every day as a grommet—and now makes it look easy.” Photo: Barton

Kai Otton converts on a beachbreak tube—setting up the point after for crosstown lensman Mark Onorati to thread between the uprights of Sydney's imposing coastal suburbs. Photo: Onorati

The kind of afternoon they wait for at the north end of Monterey Bay: healthy winter swell on the come-up meeting points sheltered from the northwest winds. "These swells always seem to be accompanied by a fog-line," said photographer Matt Kurvin."This day was an exception, and it wasn't taken for granted by anyone out there." Photo: Matt Kurvin

At hollow reefbreak venues many will extol the backhander's advantages—the ability to take off later and slow down more effectively. But on its day P-Pass is a long-winding tunnel requiring quick and subtle adjustments best made with a clear view ahead. During a late-2013 swell at Pohnpei, Alex Gray enjoys the virtues of subtle forehand game while goofyfoot Ricardo dos Santos rolls over the shoulder hoping for help from an oncoming set. Photo Paul Fisher

Tyler Hatzikian sneaks into a morning El Porto peak fashionably early—allowing plenty of time to consider which line to set on a self-shaped 10'1''. Photo: Mike Balzer

On January 22 a potent northwest swell turned Jaws into a set for the production of Point Break 2. Standing, or towing, in for the character of Bodhi was Maui's own Ian Walsh. After paddling the break for the past four years, it was the first time he'd been whipped in since 2009, but as Walsh stated, "I was going surfing whether they were filming or not." Photo: Erik Aeder

Pre-dawn, midwinter Honolua Bay: Not one for child's play, Carissa Moore sets up the Keiki Bowl with the poise of a grown woman. Photo: Kevin Voegtlin.

Overshadowed by Coolangatta's more iconic surf breaks at the top and bottom of the bay, the generically dubbed and ever-fickle "Spot X" chucks one for the front-row spectators on the big groyne at Kirra. Photo: Sean Scott

One from a surf-glutted winter afternoon: High pressure brings 70-degree days, sheet-glass conditions, and just enough west swell to low-tide sandbars dotting the southern California coast. Photo: Kevin Voegtlin

"That winter you could go down to the beach and watch things that no one had ever seen before," said TSJ photo editor Jeff Divine of the surf-rich North Shore winter of '75 which gave way to experiments in style and approach such as this knock-kneed, "with-two-hands-tied-behind-my-back" ride by Mark Richards at Pipe. Photo: Divine

The thousand-foot view of Black's charts the break's slow return to midwinter form: early-season northwest hammers the confused sandbars of summer back to their preferred shape. Photo: Tom Cozad