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The shack at Uppers is a tradition that has been upheld every summer by crews too numerous to name through five decades, from the mid-60s to current. Why a new crew every era is inspired to become “Man The Builder” at that surf break is beyond me. Perhaps it is the abundance of building materials swept out the stream and distributed by winter storms. Perhaps the hot summer sun demands that the human soul construct a shade structure. Maybe here more than there, it is man’s nature to erect a monument to his presence, staking out a form of ownership. One summer long ago, the shack was so troubling to the Marine Corp that a Camp Pendleton Fire truck was dispatched to burn it to the ground, which they did. It was replaced within the week, and that version was allowed to exist, as if a lesson in practicality, and who was really in charge, had been learned. These days the State doesn’t hassle the shack, though it certainly does abuse their liability protocol. Photo: Jeff Divine


California’s better sand bottom beachbreaks (ie. Baja Malibu, Coronado, Oceanside, Huntington, Oxnard, Ocean Beach) can be consistently stellar in shape, particularly on straight west or northwest swells that tend to A-frame, shifting personalities through different worthwhile traits at every stage of the day, from high-tide wedge inshore dumpers, to thinned-out off-shore groomed low-tide peelers, better than Rincon, Trestles or Mailbu, more dredging, hollow, forceful, challenging and rewarding. Thus when your sand box is on, it’s usually locals in attendance (who drives long distances to get sandbars?), you generally go nowhere else, and maybe snicker at those who do. Photo: Sammy Olson



After trimming delicately into the wave, gradually overcoming the balance of gravity and the upward flow, pushing on over the edge, dropping in, and at an instant artfully chosen converting downwards edge smoothly to lateral, a move that energizes the rest of the ride. The fluid stoke of a naturally propelled flow is experienced at other instants as well. Paddling out can be as joyous as the ride in. Power stroking, sweeping up the face, suddenly caught in the upward flow of energy then bursting through the lip, going a bit airborne before splashing down to reentry and back into paddling rhythm, immersed in a deep pool of warm light…a Zen moment. Photo: David Pu'u


Matt Warshaw describing Occy in his epic Encylopedia of Surfing: “Occhilupo rode with unmatched vigor and passion, planting his stumpy legs in a wide utility stance and directing his board through deeply chiseled turns, hands and open fingers extending out from his body like balance sensors”. At forty-something, Mark Occhilupo, once nick-named “The Raging Bull,” still engrossed in wave gashing, shot from a raft with a 135 lens -- a really close encounter in West Oz. Photo: Pat Stacy

Second Reef Pipe, shown here at medium size, offers the longest ride possible, all the way through from the middle reef to inside. The paddlers in this shot, who, due to photographic foreshortening seem as if they’re scurrying out of harms way but really aren’t, are still feeling very much like specks in an immense energy field-which is a humbling thing, no matter how seasoned you may be. Photo: Sean Davey

Burleigh Heads, rated one of the best twenty-five waves in the world by Surfing magazine in 1989, shown during one of the best swells ever, Cyclone season, March 2009. Aussie surf writer Laurie McGinniess notes that (Burleigh barrels allow) “…so much time in the tube that it becomes hard to separate the memory into individual waves.” (excerpt from Matt Warshaw’s Encyclopedia of Surfing) Photo: Tom Servais

Bucolic perfection, Telos Islands, Northern Indonesia, where pricey surf camps ranging upwards of $500 per day provide severely limited quest allotments, perhaps no more than eight at a time, and the boat driver will drop you and your friend off at a symmetrical reef break, suited to your skill level, and return in three hours to whisk you to the chef’s noon buffet. Photo: Alan Van Gysen

Brian Nevins' image of a chiily right coast morning during a great week of swell. Scenario: The photographer took this shot at 7:00 am East Coast time, the wind came up, he got home by eleven, emailled it in a batch of that morning's take to TSJ photo editor Jeff Divine, who reviewed it the next morning, then summoned Scott and myself to his lair to view new arrivals that he'd culled and organized. We view and discuss them all. This one struck a mood, just one of those subtle instants that resonates. Photo: Nevins

Photo Editor Jeff Divine noted the vee-shaped convergence coming over Dave’s head. He points out that modern-day locals, suckled on Hawaiian power, treat this like casual breach break and just pull-in. In past eras it was serious shit. Backdoor was first ridden in the late 1960s by regular foots Jeff Hakman and Bill Sickler. Following them were guys like Huntington Pier transplants Sam Hawk and Owl. After Butch coined the phrase then Gerry became Mr. Pipline, Dane Kealoha was Mr. Backdoor. Barreling Backdoor is more unusual than Pipe as the swell not only needs a little north in it-it has to be just right, whereas, while West swells are best for Pipe, she barrels on anything. Photo: Spencer Suitt

Who needs a heart monitor when somebody's shooting your Waimea plight at six frames a second? Photo: Sean Davey

Leave it to young surfers like Jackson Winter to enthusiastically try everything that’s been discarded by prior generations and to find some new wrinkle in their use. The entire point of kook boxes at the time of their origin was lightness. Hollow ribbed construction shaved weight verses a solid wooden plank. The box rails presented a challenge, but the square corners slid well enough, sometimes too well, as in sliding-ass. The paddleboard versions were pintails, which were squared off to produce a surfboard. Today’s surfers actually “perform” on the old equipment which must be mind blowing to anyone left who actually rode them back in the day. Photo: Moonwalker

Shot from Max Lim’s old lot. In the late '50s and early '60s Lim, a local big-wave rider, owned a beachfront lot with two small humble cottages on it, both rentals, usually filled with surfers with the Bay in mind. From the left window of the front cottage, when Waimea was breaking, you could peer out at a wall of white water crashing into the rocks and further down past the boil on the face of the peak, which is a watermark that to this day denotes deep takeoff position. That view from two lots down, to the right of the point, and looking at the backside of the peak, is one of the more interesting perspectives from a lighting, wave form and textural standpoint. Photo: Sean Davey

View through the cabin window of a renegade fishing vessel that had been pursued by Green Peace and Taiwanese authorities for years until it was chased up onto the reef at Padang on Bali’s Bukit Peninsula. Of course, during the initial melee surrounding the grounding the captain and crew disappeared. The fuel oil from the stranded craft ended up leaking into the lineup and onto the fragile reef causing a surfer-uproar that briefly became international in scope. The rusted hull has become a landmark of sorts. Photo: Andrew Shield

Crashed for free in front of the $3,000 a week Volcom House on the North Shore. Camping on public spaces, beaches included, is still technically allowed in Hawaii and you will see that many locals, perhaps in the spirit of the Hawaiian Rights Movement, have set up extravagant semi-permanent encampments at prime beach park locales all along the island coastlines. This impromptu haole love nest appears temporary if well positioned. Over the years many such beach sleepers have fallen into a blissful slumber in the fragrant tropical night air only to be bombed by powerful white water surges that wash their stuff away and leave them soaked, get attacked by hords of mosquitoes that just die to feed on the high blood sugar levels of visiting surfers, or worse yet, harassed at 3:00 a.m. by rowdies loaded on Primo beer. Regardless, it’s a million dollar view and the price is right. Photo: Sean Davey

Local aficionados do not think of her as “The Wedge.” To them, she is simply “Wedge.” Wedge is a state of mind. They have it. You can tell the real guys from the pretenders. It’s something about them. Wedge is typically ridden on reduced mediums, if any, due to the combination of an abstract level of wave power, the two- to three-foot shallow sand bottom, and the fact that most waves end by imploding on themselves. Standup surfers look for very particular days. The spectator fleet is always there. The performance theater aspect is dazzling to all. Hoag Hospital gets so many paralyzed customers from there they have produced a safety film about the place. No other break I can think of has earned that dubious honor. However you approach it, the strategy for riding Wedge successfully in any fashion involves finding a feasible takeoff position. You have three choices: catching the smaller bounce-wave off the jetty and rolling into the Wedge with it backdoor, the dramatic late peak drop from the top of the jacked ledge, and last, the to the right of the peak entry-deep enough for it to be worthy. This looks image to be the later. Come to think of it, no matter how you get in, the exit is an equally serious problem. Photo: Rob Gilley