On the cover: Mid-morning light. A locked inside edge. Body English born of pure reaction. Some frames just embody the whole big thing. Sam Hawk, Off The Wall, 1975.

Page one is backed by a full tracking of the cover subject’s transformation from Huntington surf rat to Pipeline groundbreaker in the 1970s. Spot studies also abound, including the history of big-wave surfing at South Africa's Sunset Reef and the risk versus reward of surf tripping to a Mexican prison island. Find high-art lessons in an excerpt from celebrated author Paul Theroux’s new surf-centric novel and a page-by-page look at photographer Slim Aarons’ ocean-peripheral work. As to contemporary happenings, a visual roundup from a dozen of the game’s best photographers hits on global action points.

Photograph by DJ Struntz

If a patrol boat catches you, you’ll likely find yourself boarded, arrested, and towed to the island’s naval dock for booking. It’s not cheap and it’s not pleasant and it happens every year. This isn’t sneaking into the Ranch, and the result won’t be a hand slap. It’s a naval trespass violation in a Mexican district that made its bones sealing in some of the country’s most dangerous felons: mad bombers, state enemies, transnational organized-crime gangsters.

Page 26

Night and the Iguana

If you have designs on surfing—or escaping from—a prison island, you’re going to have to pay.

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Illustration by David de las Heras

I am by nature a loner and a solitary traveler. So a man on a wave really does mean everything to me and often seems a metaphor for the way I’ve lived my life.

Page 20

Under The Wave

An interview with Paul Theroux.

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Photograph by Jeff Divine

After his performance on Huge Monday, Hawk, became a luminary of the transition era. He was easily recognizable, with stereotypical surfer good looks, a well-toned physique, and tousled blond hair. His persona was part matador and part rodeo clown, with a combination of classic style and innovative surfing.

Page 70


When Sam Hawk migrated to the North Shore from the oil derricks of Huntington Beach, he dragged along a steamer trunk of verve, commitment, and era-defining talent.

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Essay: Either You Surf Or You Fight Art by Elzo Durt

Sure, a chip on one’s shoulder can serve as a motivator for people who need to dominate the competitive systems we populate. But in surfing, that chip can drown you.

Page 16

Essay: Either You Surf Or You Fight

In the face of high art, one surfer finds his humble place.

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Photograph by Slim Aarons

Page 38

Keep Dreaming

The photography of Slim Aarons.

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Painting by Joel Rea

The ocean is a powerful presence in Rea’s work: abstract waves that wrap around animal skulls like shrouds, mountainous peaks that threaten to engulf families and bodysurfers and businessmen, tidal surges as destructive as they are alluring that sweep over entire coastlines.

Page 62

Tiger Style

For Gold Coast artist and surfer Joel Rea, the struggle is sublime.

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Photograph by Jimmy Wilson

Page 52

The Screwtape Letters

For over a decade, Joel Tudor has continued to pound a square peg into a round hole. But has the Duct Tape Invitational finally managed to make organized surfing…cool?

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Photograph by Alan Van Gysen

Page 88

In the Hall of the Mountain King

South Africa’s Sunset Reef is ready for a close-up.

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The Surfer’s Journal is the perfect gift for every surfer.

Photograph by Wayne Levin

He was lean, and sinewy rather than thick-muscled. He was deeply lined and leathery from decades of sun, with bright lizard eyes and a lizard face and long skinny hands, and many of his tattoos were sun-faded and others indistinguishable from bruises.

Page 100

Three-Wave Hold-Down

Surf fiction excerpted from the Under The Wave at Waimea.

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Photograph by SA Rips

Page 102

Portfolio: Group Show

Eighteen pages of visual surf stimuli from the game’s best photographers.

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Artwork by Hiroshi Nagai

Page 120


This issue’s departments section opens with a surf-related totem to Americana: Coastline at Lover’s Point IV, by Japanese painter Hiroshi Nagai.

Photograph by Jimmy Wilson

Salina Cruz locals believe that the port should be built a few miles east in La Ventosa, where it wouldn’t do as much damage to the waves, the ecology, and their livelihoods. But AMLO wants what AMLO wants, and a few local surf guides and environmental groups aren’t going to stop him.

Page 122

Field Report

The Rabbit at Risk: Mexico’s El Presidente wants to Elmer Fudd one of Salina Cruz’s prized right-handers.

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Purist surf energy from Page One to close-of-book, delivered directly to your door.

Photograph by Kevin O’Rourke

Page 123

Regrets Only

Breakneck: An ominous logotype leads to near disaster.

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Photograph by Ryan Craig

Over the next few days, front-lit, green barrels ran nonstop with a ruler’s edge down the reef—school-notebook-drawing-type waves reeling over and over and over again.

Page 123

Best I Ever Saw

No Hangover: True perfection rides the coattails at Nias.

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Photograph by Tom Pearsall

Page 124


How-to-fix-your-sled reading recs, five-figure high-fashion wax, the best in post-surfing baked goods, and other assorted sundries dug from the surf sphere and its frontage roads.

Photograph by Jeff Divine

John had a knack for surf content. He could write, draw, and shoot photos, and he was acquainted with pretty much all the players in the sport. By year three, the title was solid. By year five, he was buying new office furniture.

Page 126

Surfing Around

Lights Out: A requiem for Surfer magazine.

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