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At most Southern California pointbreaks, it’s either equipment or timing that provide the necessary crowd separation to tilt a session from frustrating to fun. With a late fall mini-swell on tap, a hefty slab of foam underfoot, and afterglow to light the way, Adam Instone tips the scales to his advantage at Swamis. Photo: Bryan Timm

One of the draws of the Outer Banks (along with its hollow, beachbreak thump) is its ability to spread the wealth. With miles of sandbars, committed dune climbers and sand drivers can usually find an empty wedge, even during a much-hyped swell. Here photographer Seth Stafford trains his lens on the kind of view most surfers in the zone are hunting for. Photo: Stafford

Donald Takayama (left) and David Nuuhiwa (right) left Hawaii for California in 1957 and 1961 respectively. They were both just kids at the time. No one could have predicted then the overwhelming influence the pair would cast, but with the benefit of hindsight it’s undeniable that many surfing lives would be poorer had they never set foot on the beach. Pacific Beach, San Diego, 1966. Photo: Leo Hetzel

“Barry Kanaiaupuni would lay his whole board into a turn and then go straight up into the lip,” says TSJ photo editor Jeff Divine of BK’s performances at Sunset. “He was doing that a good eight years before the Australians arrived and laid claim to this ‘new’ style of surfing the North Shore.” Photo: Jeff Divine

New Zealand has no shortage of back-beaches and exposed reefs to feed on throughout the year, but on burly winter swells the dependability and visual appeal of Raglan pulls in a loyal international crowd. "Originally I was drawn to Raglan by its rocky left pointbreaks and ridiculously consistent surf," says NZ-based photographer Rambo Estrada. "But the town itself has such a good vibe that, these days, I’m just as happy to go hangout when there’re no waves."

Photo: Rambo Estrada

Sometimes, particularly in human-loaded lineups (like those found in Australia and California), the trick is to squint and find the open spaces of water between the masses. Photographer Mark Tipple, however, took that approach one step further. This image, part of a series of long exposures, deceptively shows Bondi Beach erased of a human presence altogether. “My goal was to blur out Australia’s most famous beach from the water—without people.” he says. “Crowds do my head in here.” Photo: Mark Tipple

The Santa Cruz harbor is one of the best sand-fed setups in California. Unfortunately, it also peels through a navigable waterway, and has therefore been declared illegal to surf since the 1970s. For the undeterred, a successful session requires the ability to not only read wind, swell, and tide, but also the movements of the harbor patrol. Josh Mulcoy and Marco Foreman, waiting in the jacks for their moment. Photo: Ryan Craig

“I shot this photo with my 70-200mm from the water,” says photographer Matt Clark. “I went for a slower shutter speed to capture some movement and that magical New York light. It was taken just west of New York City at the same spot I was actually surfing 13 years ago to the day on September 11th. I was 17 years old then and had just started college.”  

Photo: Matt Clark

If not the best hurricane pulse seen in California in recent decades, Marie was certainly the most thoroughly documented. Come the peak of the swell, the Malibu lineup had cameras trained on it from almost every angle and the pier got more run through than a PCH stop sign. Photo: Shawn Parkin

El Salvador has the greatest density of population—and right points—of any country in Central America. What its shores lack in terms of an inviting tropical water palette, they make up for in reliably molding south swell into alluring shape. Full attendance from local and expat surfers is to be expected in the summer months. "This was shot early in the morning before the crowds started filling in," said photographer Ryan Craig.

Donald Takayama tintype portrait by Joni Sternbach, for her “Surfland” series. “It’s a historic process generally associated with American Civil War photography,” says Sternbach of her tintypes. “Wet collodion is partially sensitive to light, thereby making exposures longer. The photographs are made start to finish on location with a portable darkroom. Because all the process work is done in the field, I see my pictures instantaneously, which in turn is key in helping me to connect to and interact with my subjects. It is part theater and part craft.” More of Sternbach’s images were featured in TSJ issue 18.5.  Photo: Joni Sternbach

Photographer Logan Murray has been documenting the wave-scapes of New Zealand for more than four decades. Known for delivering particularly enticing lineup images, this shot conveys the type of rural idyll he typically captures. “It’s a boulder-bottom reef with a layer of sand that moves around with tide and wave action near Gisborne,” he says. “From the lineup surfers can watch cattle and sheep grazing the steep hilled pasture, with patches of trees and streams in the gullies.”

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