"This picture sums up why we surf," says Champ.
In case you haven’t been strolling the golden sands of the North Shore this past week, here’s some news.
The waves have been real good.
The sorta surf that makes you caw like a sat-on cat. Or, if you’re the timid kind, makes your eyes fill up with tears.
Two nights ago, Kohl Christensen, a tradesman who also trades in bigger-than-usual waves, got himself dosed at Pipe, with master craftsman Daniel Russo there on a ski (“Believe me, there were 25 swimming photogs,” says Kelly) to steal the moment.
The angle, and the longer lens, gives this very heavy day a rare distant softness.
“Is this the best Pipeline shot of all time? On his last wave of the day, on the best day of the year, on his final ride before the birth of his second daughter…a roll-in from Second Reef on an 8’6” Brewer,” Kelly Slater announced to his two million Instagram followers. “This picture sums up why we surf. And nobody seems to be more in tune with the ocean than Kohl.”
Russo, for his part, tell me, “I’m biased but I’m putting it as my best image ever at Pipeline. I feel like this winter has seen a record amount of good days at Pipeline. Plenty of magical waves, goals achieved by surfers and so on. But the illusion to capture that one moment hadn’t showed up until this wave. The time of day that created classic backlit Pipeline. The time of year allowing the sun, the tide and winds to align just right; the energy that travelled thousands of miles under the ocean surface starting in Japan. Then for it to spike up on the Second Reef of Pipeline. Kohl manifested this wave as left Haleiwa on my jetski. As we made our way past Shark’s Cove we could see the spray coming off the backs of the waves at Pipeline. We knew we were headed in the right direction. And we were in the right place at the right time.”
And here’s how it went down, says Russo.
“After about an hour a set stood up near Third Reef. It didn’t break, it just stood up. The Pipeline reef locked in the swell and started to cross it up to form a multi-wave set. The first two were a little wide, drawing the water off the reef. Then the third wave of the set came and Kohl paddled into it. Perception of one’s experience can vary from person to person. But this image is exactly what happened. To me, this is the exclamation mark of the winter at Pipeline. Oh, how good it’s been.”
Now, to Kelly’s charge: The best shot at Pipe? Ever?
Who wants to play?