PIPELINE Pt One features, Mark Brown, of Digital Quiver and a perfect Hawaiian day shot from the beach. In early Feb a big swell pushed out of the north, not too big, Waimea or Sunset standard, but classic for Pipe and Backdoor. It’s coming to the end of a typical North Shore season of contrasts, epic swells but long flat periods.
When you seeing a chart like this you know that the next day might be perfect. You don’t want the swell to be too big, just big enough to light everything up without maxing out. It’s a delicate balance which despite Hawaii’s reputation for consistency has not happened too many times this season.
These swells are rare, says Mark Brown, I had partied too hard the night before and didn’t want to surf. On waking I looked out of my window on the south-west of Oahu and saw the surf running. It got me running and jumping out of bed. Driving through the Pineapple fields with Haiewa in the background the first real surf check is Waimea Bay - a good indicator of what the rest of the Seven Mile Miracle is doing. As I crested the hill I was greeted by a classic swell, blue skies and perfect visibility. I have travelled the world but when you get back to Hawaii you realise there is nowhere comparable.
Log Cabins was where I choose to shoot first, the inside section was turning into these mutant closeouts with a couple of crazy bodyboarders taking on some death drops - knowing there was no salvation. Not normally being a subject I shoot, these guys really impressed. Later that day a Canadian had to be pulled off the reef here and given CPR after he got caught 20 seconds after entering the water.
Tourists just don’t realise the dangers here, it’s no joke, people drown here all the time, come and surf but don’t leave your wits at home.
Here’s the break we all know and love. Pipeline and Backdoor arch up and out of countless pictures, when it’s on it makes you gasp in wonder. This day the ground was shaking when it hits the reef and as the cliche goes ‘it’s the greatest show on earth’.
Jon Jon Florence was ruling the peak this day, the boy is only 16 but he’s earned his respect like anyone has to do here. Often the locals will sit just back off the main pack in a tight vee formation which allows them to dominate the bigger set waves.
When it crashes on your head it makes you gasp for totally different reasons. This unknown Japanese surfer lived to fight one more wave before Backdoor snapped his board in a round two stoppage.
Here another unknown sets up for a classic ride. I would never surf here alone but many do and some never come back. It’s hard not to sound over-dramatic but this beach park is also a memorial to friends and loved ones. Be it a rouge set, a caught rail or a tiger shark this place is beautiful but treat it with respect.
Aloha Mark Brown
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