The Shore according to Justin Jay!

Dazzling NYC portraitist soaks the seven mile miracle…

There’s photos and there’s photos. Am I right?

Sometimes y’just snatch a moment out of thin air with your phone, other times it’s a work of art and high-end glass. Justin Jay, a 42-year-old photographer from New York city’s Lower East Side, gives us a little of both: the eye of a master portraitist mixed with a Nikon film camera, ancient manual-focus 35mm prime affixed to the beak.

“In Hawaii I’ve found that having more equipment just slows down the workflow,” says Justin. “If there’s an amazing interaction happening that I want to capture, I gotta be able to snap the exact instant that I want. Seconds matter. Having a massive-sized file shot on a medium format camera is useless if you miss the moment.”

Here, a drip-feed of Justin’s work from December, 2016.

(And see more of Justin’s work, including reportage featuring the biggest names in music here, and here.)

Part one, The Daddy Loves Jasper Jay Project. 

“It was a strange year for me on the North Shore,” says Justin. “Usually by the second week of the Pipe waiting period, the comp has gotten well under way. There were even a few times in recent years that the contest actually ran so early that the circus had entirely left town by Dec 15th and I was left to try and fill the days before my flight left by jumping Waimea rock and taking landscape photos.

“This season, the weather and waves were pretty crappy until the final moments of the Pipe widow. I had a son this year who was back in NYC with my wife, so simply changing my ticket and staying another week really wasn’t an option. My focus when I’m on the North Shore is to capture candid moments that tell a story. Even though I don’t really shoot action or ‘surfing’, when there is no surf, it’s bizarre how empty the North Shore becomes. It’s not like all of the figures that would normally be in the lineup are instead fraternizing on the team house lawns and hanging out. When the watering hole is dry, the animals retreat and things are exceptionally quiet. No moments to be captured. Nobody standing around shit-talking and critiquing waves ridden. No history to be documented.

“I tried to stay busy by working on a personal project for my son Jasper who was about to turn one. Under normal circumstances, a lone North Shore luminary simply walking the bike path or buying eggs at Foodland wouldn’t necessarily be a ripe opportunity for a captivating picture. Candid moments need to have context and a narrative. So this year I chose to shoot a project of people holding a sign wishing Jasper happy birthday. The pictures were all shot spontaneously with minimal direction given, just a quick strike mission with existing backgrounds and ambient lighting. Because of the limited time and prep that I had to nail each shot, individually, the images weren’t necessarily the most compelling portraits I’ve ever taken. But the concept and the sign itself ended up doing most of the heavy lifting. Collectively, the 65 portraits turned out to be an interesting cross-section of the North Shore in 2016.”

Here’s twenty of ’em.

Hello Mike Ho!

His boy Mason!

Ain’t Lyndie a peach? And how about mini-AI!

Dane, maybe wearing the low-fi chic of Former?

Uncle Eddie Rothman. Hello!

Danny Fuller, Pipe stud!

Greyson Fletcher, just magnificent.


Gabriel Median, well groomed.

Bruce Irons, a little serious.

Makua Rothman. Big-Wave world champ!

Luke Egan, still unbelievable on a surf craft.

Coco Ho, wonderful.

Bodysurf supremo, Mark Cunningham.

Freddy P, he got his own spawn!

John John, no chillun yet, but he got a title.

Rosie, sigh…

Kelly Slater, always a decent sport.


Kala Alexander, like, yike! 

Nathan Fletcher, great mom. 

Carissa Moore. Sweet!

Kai Lenny, swings on anything!

Crème: Pipeline Catches Fire!

Who doesn't love the sight of spitting perfection?

As reported here and here, California is currently in a period of great swellular potency. I’m happy to announce that I found redemption from yesterday’s flail by self-sacrificing in oversized closeouts. Nothing a few NPAC-induced cartwheels can’t fix!

But where do these massive NPAC swells visit before completing their journey to California? Hawaii of course!

Swells have been spinning off Japan like Beyblades and pelting the North Shore with favorable angles (W-NW) and winds (E-SE). The result is days on days on days of pumping Pipeline, with no end in sight!

The video below highlights the best waves ridden at Pipe and Backdoor during the recent run of swell. Some of the standouts and their attributes include:

Russ Bierke (0:14): 18 years old, whiter than Colgate, one of the top ten chargers in the world right now.
Masatoshi Ohno (0:38): sits low like Curren, utilizes longer board efficiently.
JJF (1:21): Exponentially more relaxed than all others, doesn’t catch any great waves but rides his to perfection.
Anthony Walsh (2:04): couldn’t stand taller, no GoPro?
Two randoms (2:10): Backdoor guy looks legit, still surprised he made it. Pipe guy rolled into the most amazing, off-balance fluke I’ve seen.
Slater (2:30): sits too far back on his board for my liking, gets a way better tube than I ever will.
Koas Smith/Rothman (2:40): Backdoor, giant stance, thigh stall. Ugly but effective.
Last rider (3:32): impeccable pumping technique, agile foamball recovery.

Who’s your fav?

Oh, and a surprise treat!

XXL: California gets massive surf!

Many die.

And if you happen to be in California, where are you surfing this morning? Is your step-up big enough? Does it contain enough volume? Probably not! It’s Big Sunday!

Multiple people have died so far during this wild run of swell. Two Chinese nationals up near Pebble Beach. A paraglider who coasted into the sea and then got swamped. A man bodysurfing near Morro Rock.

But, and again, where are you surfing? Do you have your big wave spot dialed or do you go to your normal spot and smash against cascading white wash?

Do you watch the buoys like Shane Dorian and plan your attack or do you drive to a parking lot overlooking some whatever beachbreak, put your wetsuit half on and stand and watch for 2 hrs before going home and getting into the bath?

Do you like surfing bigger waves or do you just paddle out because that little voice in your head whispers, “Sissy…” if you don’t?

Dane Reynolds Sandspit
Dane Reynolds is very fond of the crystalline mass known as Sandspit.

Sandspit: Expectations vs Reality!

Surfer chases his Californian unicorn. Is crushed underfoot.

Have you ever been let down, completely? Ordered a pepperoni pie and received anchovy? Brought home a nine and woken up to a three? Built up a wave in your head for years only to surf it on what should be the day of the decade and it actually sucks?


Sandspit has always been my Californian unicorn. A sand-floored, reeling righthander where any doofus could find himself a six-second tube. With a massive WNW swell and wind combo running headlong into the American west, I thought there’d be no better opportunity to seek out this mythical creation. 

Here’s where I’ll break down the stark differences between expectations and reality. 

The first thing I noticed about Sandspit was that something was missing. Situated on the ocean-side of a harbor breakwall, the wave begins with a backwash and a barrel. One of the iconic symbols of this takeoff zone is Old Glory flying loud and proud atop the breakwall flagpole. But today that pillar stood without adornment. 

I wondered, was this a symbol of protest against our newly minted Salamander-in-Chief? A precautionary measure for the impending storm? One and the same?

Whatever the reason, I was optimistic. The last time that Donald Trump achieved a major feat (Election Day, November 8, 2016), the following day provided eleven hours of the best surf I’ve witnessed firsthand. I assumed today would be more of the same, as if the ocean were consciously kind enough to heal our wounds with brine and barrel. It turns out that idea was as stupid as it sounds. 

I won’t say the waves were bad, but they certainly weren’t close to what I was expecting. This swell is gargantuan by most accounts, but that didn’t translate to Sandspit. Head high was an average set, and good luck getting one of those. 

Even more frustrating than the size was the shape, which stunk more of Malibu than Kirra. For whatever reason the wave seemed to push sloppily down the line instead of focusing its energy on the bank, so my visions of a leg-burning cave sprint were left unabated. 

I’ve always believed that to paddle in without catching a wave was akin to extracting your balls and incinerating any remnants of perceived manhood, but I did this exact thing five times today.

And the paddling! Good scott, if you stopped your desperate flailing for more than a second, you were damn near in the harbor. Unless you’ve got the cojones and know-how to jump off the front of the breakwall and straight into the peak (similar to a Snapper Rocks jump-off), you have about five minutes to catch a wave before you’re out of the zone entirely. 

I’ve always believed that to paddle in without catching a wave was akin to extracting your balls and incinerating any remnants of perceived manhood, but I did this exact thing five times today. 

I ended up with a total zero tubes and two decent rides. My arms are sore and I feel like I just got punched in teeth by the brass knuckles of disillusionment. 

Probably should have just marched today instead.

(Watch it here, when its aesthetic intensity is on full reveal. Video by the wonderful Surfing Magazine.)

I'm rich!
I'm rich!

Imperialism: The Zuck vs. Kauai!

Is the world's 6th richest man taking advantage of beleaguered Hawaiians?

Mark Zuckerberg is following the path of the “rich man” to a tee. Make a killing with a new innovation; fuck over a bunch of people on the way to fame and fortune; then flaunt that wealth with reckless abandon across the globe. Maybe the wealthiest people in the world (Zuckerberg is the 6th richest man on earth) have a “How to piss on the little guy” handbook and Mark just hit chapter 3 aptly titled “Destroy cultures for private houses and resorts.”

Mark’s new vacation home sits on land that is owned by locals, deceased people and a few individuals that have no knowledge of their ties to “1/4% to 1%” of the land. Mark has filed lawsuits against over 100 people to coerce the owners into selling the land so construction can continue. The owners of the land are descendants of farmers that were allowed to claim the land they lived on as their own back when the Kuleana Act of 1850 was established.

Can the locals get a break from imperialism already? First Captain Cook and white missionaries try to snuff out surfing all together. Then the influx of big surf brands buying up property on Kam highway. Dustin Barca and Eddie Rothman are still fighting Monsanto, DuPont Pioneer, and other GMO scientific research companies for conducting testing that is causing serious damage to the livelihood of future generations of Hawaiians. The theme is consistent with the overall story of the Hawaiian people. Outsiders coming in and taking what they want, with a general disregard or back handed “respect” for the locals. Business as usual.

Mark’s compound is on land parcels shared by locals in the area. When he arrived to build the house and compound, he dropped a measly $100 million on the land. The complaints mounted against the project from the obvious to the petty; including complaints that his private security detail were parked on the road, to the glaringly obvious that Hawaiians are tired of having money, status and power dismantle their culture because those in power have the means to do so.

Mark and his camp claim that they just want to pay everyone what they deserve for the land and that the lawsuit was filed to avoid a lawsuit coming their direction. To battle the negative press coming out, Mark took to his own Facebook to make a statement.

“We are working with a professor of native Hawaiian studies and long time member of this community, who is participating in this quiet title process with us… It is important to us that we respect Hawaiian history and traditions.”

Well Mark, the locals don’t care if you have one professor on your payroll to make sure you can build whatever you want, and to help circumvent any legal problems that may arise. The local’s want their land untarnished, their culture not trampled on, and to keep their Mana levels high. For a guy who is allegedly pretty smart, maybe he should read Chas’s book (he totally should!), watch the Eddie documentary that ESPN put out, or maybe just talk to the locals there so that drama like this doesn’t happen.

Zuckerberg and Facebook have had a rough year; the guy just wants to sip a Mai Tai while the trade winds roll over the island. The business blog 24/7 Wall St. reported on their annual “Most Hated Companies” list on January 10, 2017, and Mark’s baby was listed at 6th place. Data collection, privacy concerns, and Mark’s own reactions to dealing with “Fake News” have tarnished the social media empire. I won’t even begin to tackle that issue but nonetheless Facebook is rocking the boat. Personally I became fed up with the site and deleted mine entirely.

The people of Hawaii are justified to take issue with another rich asshole entitled and selfish enough to take more land away for vacation homes, resorts or GMO test facilities. Mark seems to have the same attitude that cost Captain Cook his life on the Big Island. Do not underestimate the strength of local Hawaiians. Money, power and condescending respect will get you a spear in your back as a beautiful Hawaiian sun sets. Mark if you have any questions about what it’s like when the locals bite back for your actions, give Graham Stapelberg a call on how it feels to get properly smacked by Fast Eddie.