There have been thousands of images out of Oz recently. In fact, it's been one of the greatest runs of swell in east coast history – or so some people claim anyway. But one image that really jammed itself in our minds at MSW HQ was this capture from photographer Simon Punch at a hell slab in NSW from just the other week.
Just look at it. That's Scott 'Whip' Dennis deep in the barrel there, which takes helluva commitment anyway. But we wanted to know about just what it took to capture this thing, from the man behind the lens.
First, some background; Simon Punch grew up in NSW, had dreams to become a pro tennis player but was sidelined after multiple knee injuries. Instead, he started shooting his mate surfing while rehabbing the clipped limb – 15-years later, Simon's still in the water between his main job as a plumber and juggling like with two little'uns.
Less from us now, more from Simon about the image:
This session at a notorious local slab was the first in a while, laying dormant for some time being the fickle beast it is. It was a reunion for the boys as well with injuries and other commitments keeping the band apart. The likes of Scott “Whip” Dennis, Benny Serrano, Leroy Bellet and myself were all here this day.
The day before this shot was taken I got caught inside by a rogue set and got put through the rinse cycle. The first wave of the set broke right in front of me so I tried to dive deep and escape its ferocity but the wave had other ideas.
It grabbed me, ripped both my flippers off which left me flapping around like an injured fish. I felt helpless and was stuck in the turbulence with no idea which way it was to the surface.
I felt the next wave was on me just as I was able to suck in a quick breath before getting the same treatment all over again. Luckily, the second one pushed me in further then after the third one rolled over the boys were able to grab me well and truly out of breath on the inside. My flippers were nowhere to be found so I had to sit out the rest of the session and watch the boys getting barrelled.
Simon's IG account is worthy of your double taps.
The next day the swell was still solid but a little more organised. Shooting water out here is always difficult but especially so when shooting fisheye. The current can be really strong and you also have to contend with 2ft side wash coming off the rock ledge. It’s a real tricky wave to surf as well and... probably why it’s never busy. Whip (pictured) is the best out here and has an uncanny knack for weaving his way through the chaos.
It’s pretty daunting swimming out here losing sight of the horizon, bobbing up and down. When a big one’s out back you can see it capping on an outside bombie. Another good indicator for me is looking to the crowd gathered on the rocks to see if everyone has their phones out to film the wave then I know we’re on….. hoping I’m in the right position as I pop over the wave in front to see the huge lump of ocean rearing up in front of me.
I linked up pretty good with Whip on this one as he pulled in deep racing through a big heavy section. Looking back I wish I committed a little longer to get a few more frames but the memory of the beating the day before was still fresh in my mind and almost got sucked over on this one I just managed to sneak under the one behind it – checked the cam and there Whip was. Phew.
The result, we'll think you agree, was worthy of the flogging the day before. Kudos – and follow Simon Punch HERE.