I live in a place many consider to be California‚Äôs Gold Coast. The term conjures up images of glassy warm Winter days, and crisp blue green lines which¬† swell and pitch into morning light, flashing golden with a brilliance that is breathtaking and addicting as it sets an emotional hook in one‚Äôs soul.
Dolphins reflecting dawn on glistening lean muscular bodies are syncopating rhythmic reflections which dart into the pull of northwest groundswells and burst into amber flecked projectiles as energy and joy erupt in the life pulse of a distant storm,¬† that ebbs on the shores of this place. Their high pitched chatter and surging¬† wakes, massage my senses as the pod passes. A pedestrian’s view this most definitely is not. I will never tire of it. The serenade is otherworldly.
I swim manically. It is what I do. The season for taking best advantage of the unique geography and potential lighting conditions on the Gold Coast exists for maybe 4 months of the calendar year, as swell, sun angle and weather converge to create what is possibly the best natural studio in the world.
In the last 12 years of swimming each day, I have acquired maybe 20,000 wave images that made the grade and¬† I kept. The women in my life, well, they were hard to pull away from at O dark thirty when excitement roused me with its irresistible reveille. It is black outside and the wind chill near freezing, as air temperature cuts atmospheric haze and focuses the morning into crystalline brilliant clarity.
But I am not the first to be so plucked from warm bed and body, though I may be the most prolific. Nor will my passion, be mine alone.
Kudos to¬† Doc Ball, Leroy Grannis, Bruce Brown, Craig Peterson, Woody Woodworth, Scott Preiss, Greg Huglin, George Greeenough, Jeff Divine,¬† Alby Falzon, Mike Moir, Guy Motil, Dale Kobetich, Peter Crawford, Jack McCoy, Don King, Larry Haynes,¬† Flame, Aaron, Art, Sakamoto, Scott Aichner, Sean Davey, Vince Cavataio, Warren Bolster, Yuri and to everyone who everyone that goes down to the sea with a camera. They all share something transformative with us. The world can be a tough place. We will never see enough beauty or drink enough elixer from nature to transform this blue ball into the oasis it could be. But at least they tried.
Here is a great documentary done by Gregory Schell called The Far Shore. See it if you get the chance. The story documents the travels of two unique characters I had the pleasure of meeting at a slide show many years ago at Dan Johnson’s house in Santa Barbara. Just when I thought that I was getting good, one of them sent me an image just like mine, done 25 years prior. Got to love colleagues. They keep us in check. Their tone became Surfer Magazine and presaged surf travel as it exists today.
This was a fun gallery to put together. I am as humbled by my predecessors as I am by my subject. The ocean gives your heart scale.
To the newest “Best in the world”: Good luck. You will need it, swim lots, share what you see, live and learn. Seth Godin has this to say.
Here is a music piece by composer Mark Mancina, from the film August Rush. Maybe open it in a separate window and play it while you toggle through. It is a brilliant one. I have read that it took him over a year to write it.¬† I hope that he never stops either.
Here are fifty waves to leave a lover for. Click on the images for the back story and to enlarge them. Oh and thanks to Jason Murray, one of my editors at Surfer Magazine who pioneered this gallery concept in one of the most popular spreads that Surfer ever produced.
This was fun. I think I will do my Wiamea shorebreak and Keiki images next. (Kidding, sort of)