Photographer Everton Luis, along with Craig Anderson, Bryce Young, Alex Knost and Ozzie Wright, on yet another dream trip to the Mentawai Islands, sat on the aft of the good ship Star Koat, trying to come up with a different way to shoot the Mentawais.
Ozzie came up with the concept of becoming fish themselves. Which sparked Everton Luis to set out to capture a complete session shooting only from the angle that a fish would see. “Tide was dropping fast at Rags Rights and that reef gets too shallow and crazy," says Everton. "But it also makes the water crystal clear, so we went for it."
With only six waves ridden between them in a an hour’s time, the reef became too hairy to continue and they all paddled back to the boat.
These are the only photos shot within that half hour, paired with the philosophical thoughts that they are possible of inspiring, if we could only allow ourselves to expand our current understanding of modern surfing’s physical act in relation to the universe that surrounds us.
Above, Craig Anderson riding a 5’6” snout-nosed fish in waves of jacking hollowness over a razor sharp reef is a sketchy prospect at best. But Craig took it on as photographer Everton Luis captured him in a desperate moment of adjustment during the only wave of his session.
Like walking along a cliff’s edge, warped legged and leaning to the extreme, Craig, at the crux of the ride, torques the inside fin, leaving the other fin almost insignificant as he walks the tightrope between technique and catastrophe. A mission anyone on earth can relate to.
An instant later down the line.The fascination with this image being the wake. The pulsing cloud puffs of turbulence, the symmetry of the skipping leash, the vertically set fins locked in and tracking. And as if in a bubble of a cosmic universe, the shadow of Craig Anderson. Like an astronaut, fighting for survival and looking for a smooth touchdown on the surface of the violent forces of both heaving water and his own consciousness.
Ozzie Wright, here on his only wave of the session, reaches out to feel the purity of a moment in perfect trim. An entire body experience, backside tuberiding is completely unlike frontside tuberiding in that it allows the use of rear end, ribs and knees to enhance the line. Frontside all we have is our hands.
Alex, second wave. A little shallower as the tide dropped. Still, we can see Alex’s subtle stall with hand and tail, leaning forward head first as he goes for a tighter enclosure. This image showing us the matching, flowing patterns between human effort and breaking wave with the final result being a fallout of underwater rain that trails and falls behind the experience, to eventually, like an apparition of profound thought, disappear.
Bryce young, too, decided on a retro fish design. This one with a small, flexible tail section. This is his first wave of the session. But it is the hand in the face that gives us our fascination with this image. A clawing, stalling instinct that unknowingly creates vortices of air that reach onto the very roof of rotating lip itself. Evidence of a passing that is both felt and then ignored by an indifferent force of nature.
A moment of application of power and weight. Bryce, burying the board into the surface almost to the nose, stepping on the gas now, depending on that outside fin that is following his order to bite into the concave face as he drops for speed before committing to that inside rail. Proof of the complex nature of the performance required of a sport that most of the world considers the domain of simpletons.
It was fitting that the 6th and last wave wave ridden during the session was shot from directly below. The globe like perspective of an atmosphere of air seen from an airless perspective. All the elements of the universe displayed in an earthbound tableau. From a star studded roof, above a cloudy sky to the fire in Bryce Young’s heart as he traverses the elements as astonishingly as any space traveler.