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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

With a quick check off the bottom and not much speed to burn Sean Moody lines up yet another tube during a lightly attended afternoon session at Padang Padang. Photo: Pete Frieden

Steph Gilmore finds a brief window of clean, empty surf with the change in tides at Pupukea. "It was a nearly flat morning, but we went out anyway," says photographer Morgan Maassen. "Steph was cruising on one of her single-fins and having an absolute blast, surfing by herself." Photo: Maassen

Another morning in the over-saturated Gold Coast lineups transforms the long worn "surfer vs. wave" paradigm into a human vs. human cage match, the groomed sand-bottom point acting as a mere stage for the chaos. Photo: Sean Scott

Cape Cod-based photographer Trevor Murphy and his two brothers paddled out to this well-formed sandbar for the evening glass-off—the only surfers for "a couple miles," according to Murphy—a reminder that sometimes it's more than fine to stick close to home. Photo: Murphy

Brittany Quinn Leonard paces herself down a couple hundred yards of pointbreak in northern Mexico. The preceding three days of overhead swell helped to thin crowds, leaving only the marathoners to indulge in minute-long trim runs. Photo: Kevin Voegtlin

"This wave is up in the desert where I'm from," said photographer Scott Bauer of his session shooting Margaret River's Dino Adrian. "We call it Monuments. It's got a heavy stigma about it and has broken a few bodies and boards." Photo: Scott Bauer