When a hulking 16.5ft@17 seconds swell looks set to rifle into the coast of Maui, you can bet a fine contingent of chargers will line the cliffs, scouting Jaws as the staging ground for a mammoth XXL session.
While the rest of Hawaii may have been breathing a sigh of relief over a false ballistic missile strike, the likes of Shane Dorian, Albee Layer, Kai Lenny, John John Florence, Carlos Burle, Lucas Chumbo and more were prepping to go toe-to-toe with the behemoth of Peahi. The buoys blipping significant figures on Saturday and through to Sunday.
What arrived was a tricky, heavy session, that danced the line between some near-perfect gems and avoiding an ankle-shattering, bump ridden face.
“That was heavy,” Lucas tells MSW. “The waves were pretty good in the morning until around 2pm, we're talking 25ft plus, Hawaiian. Great for competition training. But the bumps on the face... that was actually kind of scary.”
Scrolling through these images and the byline is one you may recognise. Trevor Carlson, big wave charger and Big Wave Tour full-timer, has taken to the lens after suffering a horror injury—a sky diving accident that resulted in a broken back and ankle. With the Hawaiian season just starting, Trevor found himself staring down a month of bed rest and six months of recovery—a prospect way more frightening than a Pe’ahi west bowl for guys like him.
Eight weeks into his recovery, Carlson has found another way to stay involved in the surf. He’s off of bed rest and semi-ambulatory (with the help of crutches), and every day totes a bag of camera gear along Kamehameha Highway, checking out the unique angles he’s dreamt up over the years of surfing and lifeguarding the seven-mile miracle.
On Sunday, Trevor snuck over to Maui to shoot the most-hyped swell of the season at Peahi. While his buddies clawed their way into moving mountains, Trevor posted up on the cliff to make sure their rides were documented. Flawless conditions, huge swell, and the best surfers in the world charging perfect Peahi, being shot by a Big Wave World Tour competitor with a broken back—it doesn’t get more core than that.
After the session went down, Albee Layer began questioning the priorities of a few people in the water, questioning the safety at Peahi, especially with the safety team being hired out by travelling lensmen and there being 60 plus surfers in the water: “After today's jaws swell a rant is currently needed. And I'll be the guy,” he said. “The water safety thing is ridiculous.
“The fact photographers are willing to give more money for a photo than surfers for their safety is ridiculous. We need to find a way to put surfers in contact with water safety and maybe a gofundme site or something so they can't be bought out by photographers.
“There are a lot of great water safety teams here, but after years of saving random people for no reason it makes sense they would rather hang in the channel making $600 cruising around with a photog. Lets work together to fix this because it puts everyone in danger including those of us who hire water safety.”
Additional reporting by Matt Rott