White Rhino (2019) Movie Script

Actually, they only said it was
gonna be 12 to 15 feet, I think.
Super deep.
And it was well,
well bigger than that.
Just being there and having
the opportunity to, like,
be that close
to something so powerful,
um, it was pretty special.
After what I just saw,
I ruled nothing out.
Like, shocked my reality.
There could be a 200-footer behind us
for all I know, and we're all dead.
The noise that it made
coming down the reef...
was out of control. It was...
It was rushing down the reef.
And people are just scratching
to get out of the way.
It was the White Rhino. It's
good to, like, be in awe of it.
The power, and the beauty,
and, you know,
just God's creation,
right there,
alive and in effect.
On the maps,
this is the biggest swell
anybody's ever seen
come through the Tasman Sea.
On the maps,
it looks incomprehensible.
It is so big, it's so purple,
it's so tight,
and it's a direct shot
up the guts,
right to the Tavarua.
A set came in and broke
on the outer ledge,
and everyone was on the boat.
It's like, you couldn't get your
fucking board ready fast enough.
Everyone's freaking.
That barrel
was the vision I had.
That memory I got is like...
It was pretty incredible to have
a swell that was that big,
with that great of conditions,
that was actually open
to the most talented
surfers in the world
all at one time.
There's Wonders
in the world, you know?
If you're a surfer, that's like
one of the Wonders of the world.
I witnessed...
what is probably
the biggest wave
I've ever photographed.
The biggest barrel
I've ever photographed.
Maybe 50-foot high
and about 60-foot throwing out.
The mindset
of the big wave surfer
is so different
than just your everyday surfer.
They're out there to get
the craziest wave ever ridden.
That's their dream.
Nobody just shows up
anywhere and rips.
I don't care who you are.
North Shore native
Kalani Chapman
had to be brought back to life
after a bad wipeout
at one of his favorite...
I had quite a few
different wipeouts.
Pretty much all of 'em
feel like you're gonna die.
At that moment,
I'm lacing up my leash
on my board
I look over at Kelly,
I'm like, "Did you see that?"
Kelly's taking off his leash,
and he said to me,
"That's not what I'm here for."
Big welcome
to the Sunset Beach Pro.
The first event for 2017.
APP, Association of
Professional Paddlers.
I think it was
the photography that really
got me motivated.
Just seeing
beautiful photographs,
I loved them, just like
every other surfer does
when they open the magazines.
And I don't know
what the difference was.
Everybody else,
including myself,
looked at surf photos
and it made them want to surf,
but it also made me
want to be a photographer.
I decided I was going
to be a surf photographer,
bought myself a camera, told everybody
I was going to be a surf photographer,
but I neglected to actually use
the, uh, camera.
I just couldn't stop surfing.
And, honestly, it took
a near-fatal accident
where I hit the reef headfirst,
and my head got all infected
and I almost died,
and after about
a month of actually learning
how to use my camera equipment,
I think I...
I actually started taking
some pretty good pictures.
But I would have never become
a surf photographer
if I hadn't hurt myself.
I just could not quit surfing
long enough to take pictures.
To me, photography...
you know, God's created
this beautiful world.
And I've got this tool
to show my vision
of what God has done
with this beautiful planet.
And I really try
to think about it like that.
I want to be edgy,
I want to be cutting edge,
but I don't want to be
a negative cutting edge.
And I don't think
you have to be.
I think you can show the beauty
and still be right there
on the edge
and come up with some
really cool, original things.
Do you ever wish you could
go back to a moment in time?
A photo has the power
to take a fleeting image
and hold it
in that moment forever.
The introduction of the camera
has changed the way we perceive
the world around us.
It has the ability to inspire
the uninspired.
Inspiration comes in
many different forms.
For Brian, information comes
in the form of music.
Music which has a direct
connection to his photography.
My record collection.
Well, I certainly have the best
record collection of anybody I know.
I'm sure somebody out there's got
a better one, but I don't know 'em.
This is all my...
and more expensive ones,
which is why
my children are probably
not going to go to college.
I kind of invested a lot
in all this.
And then I've got, of course,
the original '60s and '70s
rock and roll.
Along with jazz, '80s.
Everything from Frank Sinatra
to, uh, Johnny Cash
and in-between.
It's an addiction,
what can I say? You know.
Better than drugs, I guess.
I have this crazy connection
to music
and it really does
inspire my photography.
I mean, right down to, uh,
you know, when I decide to
make a limited edition print,
I'll go through
my record collection
and I'll find a name
from one of the albums
that I think fits the print.
The really sounds cool.
That really matches the photo.
You know, basically
just works with it.
The other thing too, is I love
putting together slide shows
to music.
So, same thing,
is I'll pick a...
I'll pick a song
that really works and I'll...
And I'll use that,
and I'll put
a bunch of photos together
and make a two
or three-minute slide show.
And it's like my own little
version of a mini movie.
But it all starts
with the music.
Yeah, as a surfer back in the,
uh, late '70s,
there was a photograph
that I saw
by a photographer
by the name of Erik Aeder,
it was the most beautiful shot
I'd ever seen.
It was Nias before
we'd ever seen Nias.
And it was this
perfect blue barrel
with palm trees on the side
and this little fishing boat
right on the edge of the wave.
I'd never seen anything like it.
It sparked my interest
in travel.
It... It made me want
to become a photographer.
It was, and still stands
in my mind
as one of the greatest
surf shots ever.
It was the first photograph
that showed me that
there's a whole world out there,
just waiting to be discovered.
I wanted to go out there
and find my own place
that I could photograph that people
would see for the first time.
A photograph that could inspire
them the way I was inspired.
And I'm looking for the... They have
another version of it in here that's...
even cooler, I think.
Ah, this swell right here.
You know, this was right when
Cloudbreak opened up
to the public.
On the west coast
of Fiji, lies Cloudbreak,
the Holy Grail of waves.
Although one of the most
aspired ways to surf,
Cloudbreak was off-limits for
the majority of the population.
In 2010, the Fiji government
opened the break to the public,
allowing surfers who had been
chomping at the bit for years
to finally see what this
legendary place had to offer.
Once the word got out
that the government
was allowing anybody
to surf out there,
people from around the world
started flying to Fiji.
You know, you had to go to these
high-end resorts, Tavarua,
And then when they
opened it up to the public,
I was like, "Hey, you kidding?
I'm going!"
There was this big swell.
I remember, that was the first
swell after the decree
to open the break
up to the public.
It was the first time
it was legal to go surf there.
No longer was Tavarua
the only way to get out there
to surf Cloudbreak.
It was almost Cloudbreak's big
coming out to the world party.
And this was kind of like
the first time it was ever
going to be surfed
and on possibly
the greatest swell
that they ever had before.
So I was working for Volcom
at the time,
because Bruce Irons had
gotten me the job
to be his personal photographer
and travel with him, and...
we found out about the swell
and both of us had our tickets
booked immediately.
My partner, lifeguard partner,
I was working at Rockpiles,
my partner came up to me
and said, "Have you seen
this swell on the map"
"heading to Fiji?
It's amazing!"
"Perfect conditions, and it looks
like kegging 15 to 18 feet."
I said, "No, I haven't seen it,
I'm scheduled to work"
"the next week straight,
so I can't make it."
"So I'm going up to talk
to the boss right now,"
"I'm going to go."
So he goes up, he comes back down,
now he's got a frown on his face,
What's wrong?
"Boss said because I'm a ski
operator, I can't make it."
"If I was just a beach lifeguard
like you, I'd have a chance."
I said, "Oh, really?"
So I marched upstairs,
talked to him, he said,
"I can cover you,
I can't cover the other guy,"
"but go for it, good luck."
We saw this thing just push up,
and everyone's freaking out.
"Oh, it's going to be epic.
Let's go."
So everyone was just freaking,
and we all flew down there.
I remember jumping
on a plane with...
you know, a bunch of guys
from Hawaii.
And most of them
had never been there.
But this was our...
Our opportunity.
There was big swell, we were going to
Cloudbreak. We'd all heard of Cloudbreak.
We didn't know how to get out
there, we didn't know where it was,
but we'd seen
these picture books
and we'd seen these pictures,
we'd seen this videos,
and we were like,
"We're going to Cloudbreak"
"because it's the most perfect
wave in the world."
It's the longest left-hand
barrel we'd ever seen.
And everyone keeps talking about
this wave, so we've got to go.
Next thing I know,
I'm on a plane,
and I show it up in Fiji,
and it's just like they said.
It's 10 to 15 feet,
it's bluebird conditions.
It was one of those moments
where you just
thought to yourself,
"I... I can't even believe
that I'm here, seeing this."
It wasn't even crowded.
Huge, perfect left-hand barrels.
Sunny, bluebird, not a drop
of water out of place.
And it all came together
and it was exactly
what we expected.
To this day, I don't think
that they've really had a day
where it was
that big and glassy.
They've had big days,
and this and that,
but, for some reason
that was like
five or six hours
of just perfect Fiji glass.
So, really that day was,
I felt, when I caught my wave,
was the wave of my life.
Probably the best wave
I'll ever catch
because it was like...
I don't know, 20 feet.
And just sheet glass,
big blue perfect left.
Yeah, that was the best
wave of my life.
And then also the experience
of sharing the board with Bruce
and having him paddle out
and catch the wave.
You know, one of the best waves
of his life on the board...
um, on the same day.
It was just...
It was really insane.
See, Kohl would always experiment
with these different-shaped boards
and I remember he came out with
this kind of rounded nose board.
I was like, "Brah, it looks
like a mini-tanker."
"Why are you out
on that thing?"
And, um, that wave came
and it was definitely one of the
standout sets of the morning.
It was the biggest close-out
I've ever seen in my life.
Seen in my life.
Oh, yeah.
And I'm like,
"I'm going to make this.
"Yeah, I'm going to make it",
and I can see all the boats.
And as I kind of came up,
that last bit,
the implosion
from the water below
kind of hit the board,
and I... kind of fell...
I didn't even surf
the rest of the day.
I just went back to the boat.
You know, that was
the best wave of my life.
What's really interesting
is that
where Kohl caught his wave
is probably...
60, 70 yards further up the reef
than where Bruce
actually got his.
And Bruce is feral,
he's a giant.
Like, I remember seeing him and like,
"Why the hell is he sitting way in there?"
"I know he wants bombs."
But, you know, it's Bruce,
he knows what he's doing.
He knew what he was
waiting for and he caught it.
That barrel is the vision I have,
the memory I got, is like...
incredible. That was like
one of the best...
you know, surf...
The best waves
I've ever surfed in my life.
That day that I got the shot
with the red board...
And I almost drowned
on that wave.
That was the closest
I've been to...
blacking out,
I guess, in the water.
Not... Not...
Not coming up in time.
For some people,
having to worry about your life
while you're surfing,
makes surfing not fun.
You could tell when they're in
trouble on the water when they eat it.
Just by how the board's going.
Once the board
starts tombstoning...
and you can see them climbing
their leash, basically.
When the water starts
doing this, they're climbing,
big time.
The mindset
of the big wave surfer
is so different
than just your everyday surfer.
They're out there to get
the craziest wave ever ridden.
That's their dream.
And they're either gonna get
the most incredible ride,
the greatest thrill
of their life,
or they're going to take
the heaviest...
most death-defying wipeout
that they could have
ever imagined taking.
Watch out
Through the up-change...
When I came up,
I got whipped so hard
every which direction,
it felt like my spine
was just all hot and tingly.
I guess it just felt like
it was going to rip my head off.
Run, run, run to the light
Ride, ride
Through the dark of night
Definitely knowing that a jet
ski is there helps your mindset.
But, you know, you have to know
you can't rely on it.
They might not get you,
they might not see you, they
might be doing something else,
the jet ski can break down.
There's a lot of problems,
but still,
at the end of the day,
knowing that there's rescue
is a big deal.
Because you can feel
real lonely real quick.
Come on. Come on.
North Shore native
Kalani Chapman
had to be brought back to life
after a bad wipeout at one
of his favorite surf spots,
It happened during Da Hui's
Backdoor Shootout at Pipeline.
This is so scary.
This new video
shows rescue crews
pulling Kalani Chapman
from the water,
after he took off on a massive
wave during the contest
and failed to resurface.
He didn't have a pulse
when he was brought to shore.
Lifeguards from Hawaiian
Water Patrol and Ocean Safety
performed CPR and revived him.
Chapman was taken to the
hospital in serious condition.
I've always known
how dangerous and gnarly it is.
I've rescued people that were
in the same exact situation
that I was in.
And some lived, and some didn't.
No way. No fucking way!
That was Peter.
Fuck! Where is he?
There's his board.
Keep an eye out.
Come up. Come up.
Come up. Where's his head?
Come on. Come on.
Whoa, whoa, whoa!
Whoa, that's two.
That's fucking two, man.
Go, go, go, go!
Go, Skinny, go!
The things they're doing now
on waves are incomprehensible.
And it's crazy,
and the dangers they're facing,
every single wave ridden
is a death-defying wave,
when it comes to huge waves
like that.
So many surfers have come
so close to dying,
and they're willing to take
that risk and they do take it.
But they're... They're willing
to pay that ultimate price, too.
And some of them have.
But big wave surfing
is a whole different ball game.
It's a whole different
frame of mind, state of mind,
um, and the guys that do that
are crazy,
and I swear
they do not fear death.
The Cloudbreak swell
was amazing,
and I think everybody
left there feeling like
they had just ridden
the best waves in a decade.
From the first wave you ride,
the excitement, the freedom,
just the whole sensation of it,
it's like you know
from that moment on,
you're gonna be a surfer
the rest of your life.
It's a total addiction.
Especially big wave surfing.
There's nothing like it.
It is life and death.
And once you have that taste,
that adrenaline
hit, you're a junkie,
you're hooked.
I came out with the jet ski
and started towing people,
but even before towing people,
I was riding the outside reefs,
trying to get to tow people,
and nobody would tow.
And, uh... So I was riding
the outside reefs,
saying, "Hey, listen, guys",
"this is how you're going
to learn how to ride big waves
"on the outside reefs."
You've got to be able to get
around and see them,
you've got to... be able to be
100 yards away from them
and get to them and tow in.
And so it took a time for them
to even start towing in.
It took about 15 more years,
or something like that.
You know, everybody out there
is professional
and they're the best at
what they do on those big days,
but everybody makes mistakes.
The only difference is
in our situations,
you make a mistake
and it could cost you your life.
Um, I remember, uh,
the jet ski incident
with Raimana and Reef.
I think Raimana
has been out on his ski,
I don't know whether
he towed anybody in,
but I know that he ended up
going, "Hey, hey, Reef."
"Come and tow me in.
Come and tow me in."
You know, you can drive
the ski and pull me in.
Turned out Reef
had never done it before.
What had happened was Reef
towed Raimana into the wave
and the ski started to get over the top
of the wave, to get out of the wave,
but he didn't do it
quick enough.
So he just let
the ski go and Raimana just...
You know, it went over
in the lip.
Any other wave in the world, it
would have fallen straight down.
But there's so much water
in those lips that
the lip pushes out so far that
it just carried this jet ski.
And the next thing you know,
the wave started
sucking him back over.
He jumped off the ski,
and that's what went right over
Raimana's head in the barrel.
Raimana's just ducked under.
I mean, it was one of those ones
where you looked around after
and go, "Did you just see that?"
Like, it was one of those
incredible moments that you went,
"Can you believe
what just happened?"
But the funny thing is that Billabong
didn't have anyone, I think, out shooting,
It was a day when the contest
wasn't on, the shooters weren't out,
and I think they came up to me
in the boat, later in the day,
and go, "Hey, Joli, did you get
that shot? You get that shot?"
I said, "Yeah, I got the whole sequence.
You know, I got it all."
"Hey, look, we might want to use it.
Are you cool with that?"
I said, "Yeah, well,
we can work something out."
So I went back to...
back to the house.
You know, six o'clock,
the sun's down,
I'm in my room,
towel around my arm, like,
ready to go to the shower,
- and it's, "Hey, Joli,
Joli, you got that shot?"
I said, "Yeah, I've got it,
but, look",
"can you wait 10 minutes?
Like, I need a shower."
"Like I've just
come out of 12 hours
"out on the boat,
I'm ready... I'll..."
"Let me have a shower and then
I'll... I'll give it to you."
So Joli actually had the better
shot, but the funny thing is,
uh, Billabong went over to his house
to get it and he was in the shower.
So they immediately raced over to my
house and they got the photo from me.
I'm coming out from having
the shower and they're gone.
Finally rang them up,
and the guy goes,
"Hey, no, no, it's all right. That's
all right. We've got Bielmann's shot."
"It's cool.
Everything is under control."
I gave them the photograph
and, honestly, I kid you not,
it probably was
in 100 newspapers
in Times Square,
you know, in New York,
magazines all over the place.
You know,
clear bummer,
but, you know, okay,
Brian scored one.
Not even a month
later, there was another swell
projected to be even bigger
than the Fiji swell
and it was going to hit
the island of Tahiti.
This could possibly be
my opportunity
to finally capture that photo
I'd been waiting for,
that line-up shot
I've been dreaming of.
As good as Fiji can be,
there's absolutely nothing
as scary or dangerous
as Teahupo'o when it's big.
In the heart of
the French Polynesian islands,
lies a wave as thick
as it is tall.
Crashing on to below sea level
dry reef,
bringing surfers head-on
with the prospect of death.
Welcome to Teahupo'o.
There's Wonders
in the world, you know?
There's this, you know,
Old Faithful, or certain things
and, uh, if you're a surfer, that's
like one of the Wonders of the world.
Waves just don't want
to be ridden there.
There's... There's
certain waves that, like,
it's just like impossible
unless you have a jet ski.
The swells are only,
like, eight feet,
and then it turns into that,
so, when you let go,
you're like, "Oh, yeah, yeah,"
and then it just goes...
It gets real dark,
and then, you know, the ocean
goes up high and you go low
and... it's amazing how it...
It's like a toilet bowl,
it's just sucking out.
When the whole ocean stands up,
it's moving, there's too much...
power and too much water
moving at once to, like,
to handle it.
It's just like you become
part of the wave.
You can't even predict it.
It's pretty much
one of the greatest displays
of Mother Nature
that you can see and experience
if you want a piece of it.
So much force from the water
sucking up the reef
and throwing over that even
though it doesn't show any size,
if you're anywhere close
to that energy,
you would get sucked over
the fall so radically.
Just the amount of power
and energy that it can produce
in one area...
is definitely, um...
different than probably
anywhere in the world.
I was just in Tavarua,
and had caught
the wave of my life
at Cloudbreak, so,
I kind of went to Code Red
just thinking, "Oh, I'll go
to Tahiti on a vacation."
"If I catch some waves, cool,
if I don't, cool, whatever.
Just going to see how it goes."
Billabong started promoting
the hell out of it
with Raimana's jet ski
going over the fall,
saying, "Whoa, whoa, whoa.
Look at this. Look at this."
And the Tahitian government
freaked out.
Went, "Whoa, this happens
out there?"
"We're going to create something"
"so dangerous, people are not
going to go in the water."
The police had put out a warning
to all the boat drivers
who were fishermen
that they were going to take their fishing
license away if they took anybody out there.
Everybody knew
this swell was coming.
Everybody knew it would be too
big for the... for the contest.
And everybody knew
there was going to be towing.
And we woke up in the morning,
and it was just overcast,
dark, ominous.
Just creepy as hell.
So, we turned up
at the dock to go out...
that morning, and it shut down.
The police, the water police
were there.
Nobody's allowed to go out. And
we can see people out there.
But nobody's allowed
to leave the marina.
Everybody was
hanging around the docks
trying to figure out what to do.
Nobody wanted to
take out their boats.
And little by little,
guys started sneaking out
in the water.
Taking the boats
and sneaking out.
We went out there,
we were trying to be
one of the first teams on it.
I told him, "I don't even
want to look at the waves."
"Let's just go
straight out there because"
"the more you look at it, the
more scared you're gonna get."
The line-up started filling up,
and within two hours, pretty
much everyone was out there.
Except me and a handful
of other photographers
who were there
working with Billabong
because Billabong didn't want to
take any responsibility for it,
so they just shut off
all their boats.
So I was pretty devastated.
I remember seeing Kelly Slater
come in,
and he looked at me and he
goes, "What are you doing here?"
And I just felt like...
the biggest moment of my career,
and I was blowing it.
I wasn't even on a boat.
So we're with Ian,
and he's going, "No, I can't,
you know."
"I've got a tourist license.
I can't go out."
"I'd be jeopardizing my,
you know, license if I go out."
And he's going, "Look, you guys",
"do you want to come over
to my house for coffee?"
And we're going,
"Yeah, okay. Okay."
And what we did,
we jump in the boat,
and he burns off in the
opposite direction to Teahupo'o.
Gets about
two or three hundred yards out
into the lagoon and stops.
And he says, "Okay,
here's the deal."
"If you guys are prepared
to pay for the fine,"
"will you go for it?"
And we're just
looking around, going,
"Let's go!"
And we just burnt out to
the reef and just straight in.
So we're out probably
40 minutes before
any other boat.
25 feet, 30 feet,
and Ian puts it into gear
to go forward,
and then all we hear is this...
We look around,
and the cable had broken,
we only had reverse.
And we're in the line-up...
tiny little runabout,
it's 25 to 30 feet,
and we're going,
He whistled up,
um, George Riou in a big...
one of the big boats,
and they came in and grabbed us
and towed us out of the line-up.
They had to tow us
back to the marina.
So there was me
and three other photographers
sitting in the dock and, uh,
I had another boatload
of photographers,
come in towing a boat
that got stranded out there.
And, uh, funny enough
I looked over and it was
three other surf photographer
buddies of mine, Joli...
We got back there,
tie the boat up,
George is getting ready
to go back out,
and I'm... Ted and I
are sitting there,
and Tim McKenna,
we're just sitting there going,
"We've just lost our boat.
We haven't got a boat."
And, um,
we go, "Hey, George",
"is it sort of cool
if we come with you?"
And he's going, "Well, it's Mick
Fanning's boat. He's hired it, you know."
"But, yeah, okay.
Come on, let's go."
So three of us
jumped on the boat
and went back out.
And they basically
dropped off the boat,
and just took off
and left me in the harbor.
So I went back to the house
where I was staying
which was right
in front of Teahupo'o,
and I walked out in the dock,
and luckily I saw
one of the guys that worked for
Billabong, and he was on a ski.
And I told him
what was going on.
He said, "Jump at the back of the ski.
I'm gonna get you out there right now."
So I jumped on the back
of the ski.
We drove out and we started
driving up to all the boats.
I was, like, asking everybody if I could
get on the boat and no one had room.
We finally went up to Timotei's boat.
He knows the waves super well.
But he's so scary to be
in the boat with.
He doesn't like me
to say it, but he's crazy.
But he knows what he's doing.
But he's still crazy.
And it's...
He's terrifying,
and I swore the day before I would
not get in that boat with him.
And we got out in the water and I
couldn't get anybody else's boat.
I remember looking at Timotei, just going,
"Please, please let me get on the boat."
And he just looked at me
and went, "Two hundred bucks."
And I just said, "Two
hundred, buddy, no problem."
I remember climbing on the boat, I ended
up getting in the back of the boat.
I actually had a seat.
And he was sitting so far in,
that basically it turned out
from being not on a boat
and stuck on the harbor,
to all of sudden being in
the best boat
and the best spot in the boat
and the farthest inside.
And when I saw
the first set come in,
my God, my first thought was,
"Be careful what you wish for."
You know, when you're towing in at
Teahupo'o, like, you'll see, like, waves,
but when you see the lumps,
that's when you know
that that's the real one.
I let go of the rope
way too deep.
And I was coming in to it,
and I remember
there being this step.
I've never seen
anything like it,
the whole entire ocean
was sucking up dry.
I went over the step,
and I looked up,
and I was way too deep
and the wave was so big.
It was one of the biggest,
bluest walls I've ever seen.
Teahupo'o isn't really
the deep water type of wave.
It's not a deep water
hold down. It's just...
When you eat it,
it carries you distance.
That was probably the...
That's was one of the heaviest
wave I've ever got by far.
And I ate shit on it.
Nosedive, upside down.
Get fucked.
Get fucked!
That looked fucked up.
- What was that?
- The biggest wave I've ever seen.
Bruce's wave, Bruce
caught a really good wave,
dug a rail, kind of ate it.
Beautiful wave right up until that
point, but it was just kind of his board,
the equipment he was using,
I don't what exactly happened,
but he kind of
ate it, nosedived.
I only caught, like,
five waves that day.
I nosedived on all four of them.
The board was a pile of shit.
And, uh, yeah,
that was the last wave, like,
I nosedived again,
blew out of my straps,
and slapped my head
on the water,
and then I got
a wakeup call, like,
"Whoa," like, my kids and shit.
Like, I wasn't really
thinking before that.
And I was like, "Whoa, I need to...
I need to relax."
Bruce pulled into one,
dropped into one,
and was really light.
Like, and it was sketchy whether
he was going to come out.
And all he's done
is just stood up tall.
He was way, way, way deep
and he just stood up,
straight up.
It shut down on him.
The next thing he comes up,
his trunks have been ripped off,
like, he's screaming for Koby
to come and get him.
Screaming, screaming.
I didn't feel
my shorts come off.
And then, like...
Koby is on a ski,
he was coming and I was, like,
and then I realized, "Oh." I was like,
"Fuck! Really? My shorts are just gone!"
Not even, like...
Like, I didn't feel it 'cause I
was getting rag dolled on that one.
And I knew, I was like, "Fuck!"
I go, "I know",
"I know Koby is going
to drag me to the line-up."
And then he jumps
on the back of the ski,
and you can hear him,
"Don't take me through the crowd!
Don't take me through the crowd!"
Koby is just laughing
and driving him around.
Bruce is, like, trying
to keep his legs together
and his butt's showing,
and everybody is laughing.
I know because I would
do that in a heart beat
if he or any one of our friends
had their clothes come off,
I would've actually
did it longer.
Yeah, actually,
everyone remembers that,
they don't remember the waves.
Oh, there was awesome waves
all morning.
Like, every wave
seemed to be better
than the last,
and deeper and crazier,
and more death-defying.
It was nuts.
But it was right around
the middle of the day,
which none of us realized,
that's when the swell
was gonna be the biggest.
And that's when
Nathan Fletcher showed up.
And he caught one wave,
and I remember him standing
straight up in the tube,
and the thing just
annihilating him.
I got a phone call from
Garth Tarlow on the boat.
He called me up and he said,
"Nathan just caught
the heaviest wave ever!"
And I just went,
"What's that mean?"
As it came in, all of a sudden,
this thing formed down here
that looked like a gutter.
And, so, that was eventually
turning into the wave.
'Cause that open ocean swell
finally hit dry reef.
And so that little gutter felt
like I had to get into that thing.
And once I got into that thing,
I got in there and turned.
And it was sucking so hard,
but what it looked like
right there was a half-pipe
gone down around the corner
of sucking around the reef.
But this wave that
Nathan Fletcher had was by far
the biggest wave of the day.
It was huge.
He took off so far back
and just started pumping
through this giant
20-foot barrel.
And I just remember
shooting this thing,
and back then, the cameras,
the buffers would go in.
You'd end up running out of shots
before the end of the sequence.
So I was trying to click as
slow as I could possibly shoot,
but this thing was a monster and
I just was trying to hold back.
And I remember he rode this
thing all through the inside.
It was like slow motion
watching it.
And I just went, "Holy shit!
How did he do that?"
We're seeing him,
going, "Holy shit!" Like...
"Fuck, he might be dead."
And that was a big...
And on the ski, and you're
looking in and little...
In that huge thing. You're like,
"Holy shit! That was heavy."
He did a wheelie in the barrel.
And that's because the wave, like I said,
was standing up so fast all at once.
He had to do that to even
make it as far as he did.
What I was doing was,
it was like,
went through the foam ball
and it sucked me up real high.
And right there I figured
the only chance I had
was to try and, like,
jump down and reconnect.
And, so, it was kind of
like a last chance effort.
But this was one of those waves
that was as heavy as it looked.
And there were surfers all over
the world asking the question,
"How did Nathan Fletcher
not die in this wave?"
I probably got one or two covers
from that... that shot. Um...
I think what that sequence
I probably shot about 50 frames.
The cool thing about it is that
Nathan nearly pearls
three or four times.
Like, if you go way back
when he's a dot in the bottom
of the frame,
you can see him punching
through sections, you know?
And I... It was... Like,
I look at it and his nose
is just under water
a couple of times,
or the white water comes up
and he bounces over the top.
I mean, it was an amazing,
amazing wave.
He didn't even know
how big that wave was.
Like, he left the next day.
I remember I sent Nathan
a picture going, "Fucking..."
Someone had a shot
looking into the barrel,
and he looked so little.
I remember it was like a...
It was like a phone shot,
and then I sent it to him.
The next day,
the next morning, um,
Bruce texted me a picture
of somebody's shot of it.
What I thought it really was
was me jumping off
on the first wave,
and I thought
I was halfway under water.
And then I realized, "No,
that was how small I was."
You know, honestly,
I still, to this day,
say it's the craziest wave
ever ridden by a human being.
And Nathan kind of came out
and cut that giant monster
and it just sort of,
it just made it.
It sort of ruined it
for the rest of tow surfing.
Because no one could
ever top that.
At the end
of the Teahupo'o swell,
I knew I had gotten some of
the best images of my life,
probably, with
the Nathan Fletcher shot,
probably the best image
I'd ever get.
But... it just felt like
I hadn't quite gotten
that perfect shot.
Like the one that inspired me
years ago, Erik Aeder from Nias,
that perfect line-up,
just dream shot
that every surfer dreams about.
We'd gotten great shots,
but they were all terrifying,
death-defying, not every
surfer's dream by any means.
June 2012,
we're in Fiji
for the Volcom Fiji Pro.
And... we're getting the news
of this swell, this massive,
massive swell coming.
It wasn't even ten months later,
and we were headed back to Fiji.
And the maps were showing that this
could possibly be the greatest swell,
the biggest and the most
perfect swell that ever hit.
On the maps,
it looks incomprehensible.
It is so big,
it's so purple, it's so tight,
and it's a direct shot
up the guts,
right to the Tavarua.
It was another huge swell,
um, right during
the Volcom surf contest.
Two days into the event,
we started hearing about this
giant swell that was gonna come.
And we started hearing reports
that big wave surfers
were starting to all fly in
for this swell.
There was about 40 people
that weren't actually there
for the contest,
that all flew in on the hopes
that it was gonna be too big
for them to run the event.
They're like, "We're not gonna run
the event. It's gonna be way too big."
"We're gonna go. For sure.
There's no question."
"You know, the contest
was possibly being ran
"and we might not even
be able to surf,"
"and we'd have to sit down
and watch 20-foot Cloudbreak."
I went there as a commentator.
I went there as a commentator.
I didn't even bring a board.
Three days prior
to this surf event
showing up in Fiji,
I started calling back home.
I started believing the hype.
But I said...
Called back to Mark Healey,
I said,
"You've gotta bring down
my biggest board."
Dave likes to ride
humongous boards.
And, um,
he has this uncanny knack
of hitting me up to drag
his humongous boards across
the world for him every time.
You know, he's had some reason
why I'm the person who's supposed
to do that on top of my board bags?
"It's a 10-2," he said,
"That'll never work.
"Yeah, the swell's huge..."
"It's not gonna fit the wave.
I'm not bringing it."
I said, "Just bring it."
"We're friends.
I'll owe you a favor."
So he did hit me up to bring
a giant board on that trip.
And I was like, "Brah, you did not need
a board that big to surf Cloudbreak."
When the thing finally hit
in the morning,
everybody was out surfing
before the contest periods
started, and it was big.
It was big and gnarly.
And, you know, there
were some of the top pros out.
Fanning was out, John John
was out, Parker was out.
They were charging, man.
They were going for it.
And, um, eight o'clock came,
contest started,
and here were the world's
greatest big wave riders,
sitting in the boards waiting
for them to call this thing off.
We were
watching the comp and then
they called it off.
Well, they had to
pull back. It was too big.
You know, it's like...
it's a whole different arena,
you know.
I think Raoni Montero got hurt.
Blew his knee out.
And they put it on hold,
and then of course, like,
the trolls were like,
"Run it!" Like...
"Yeah, you go out there."
Come on.
You need a ten-foot board.
There was already injuries
and everything else,
and they just called it off.
Because, you know, the surfers didn't
have the boards, they weren't prepared.
It was whole different mindset.
We were trying to make
it as clear as possible
to our friends on tour that,
"Hey, we have big boards available
should this contest run."
The last thing you wanna do
is watch a bunch of
amazing waves go unridden.
At least if you're gonna be there
and you're not able to surf,
you wanna see
the guys having proper dig.
You can't really blame the guys
who didn't wanna go out.
'Cause it's just
a different thing.
The risk level is different.
As a commentator,
working for Volcom
I'm an armchair surfer.
I'm sitting there
for eight hours
of the best surf movie
anybody's ever seen.
This is insane.
Look at this wave!
Oh, my God.
Look at that wave.
It's just the wave of your life,
and it's there
to be had, and who's this?
Who is it?
- I'm not sure yet.
- Somebody I saw earlier.
Is that Jensen?
No, Jensen is in trunks.
Healey. Mark Healey.
Mark Healey.
Healey. I saw Healey...
Watch out
Something's coming this way
It's coming into town
Watch out
Could be a change...
I could not imagine,
and I was thinking about this
while surfing.
I can't imagine the mindset
he must have been in,
having to be commentating
that swell.
Like, I don't give a shit
what sponsor might
have put me in that booth,
I would've been like, "Drop me,
I don't care. I'm going surfing."
"I don't give a damn."
But he stayed in that booth,
like they wanted him to,
all the way till the end,
and I was like,
"Oh, my God."
Right. They stopped
the contest,
all the greatest big wave riders
show up, and are going ham.
I mean, they're going
absolutely nuts
in the best biggest waves
ever seen.
All of a sudden it was like a set
came and broke on the outer ledge,
and everyone
was on the boat. It's like,
"You couldn't get your fucking
board ready fast enough."
Everyone's freaking.
And when they finally called
it off, these guys paddled out
and put on the show
like the world's never seen.
So, we paddled out,
and, you know, then it just
started getting bigger.
And bigger, and, you know...
Everyone just started getting...
world-class tube rides
on huge waves.
It was epic.
Like, that was the best day
of, I don't know, surfing
existence in my mind,
that I had ever seen.
It was like
the Super Bowl of surfing.
I actually remember Kalani
Chapman early in the morning
getting like
a 12-15 second barrel.
The thing just started barreling
as soon as I dropped in,
and all I could do is just,
you know, just pump,
pump for my life,
and try and make the barrel.
I came out and I was just
blown away.
Kohl Christensen
was definitely a stand out.
He had a couple of really bad
wipeouts in the beginning of the day.
But then he just clicked in
and turned it on,
and just started ripping.
As the day carried on,
the crew scored some of
the best waves ever seen.
While hypnotized in the moment,
no one could predict what
lied just beyond the horizon.
I knew for a fact...
that the tide
was gonna switch...
at about three or four o'clock.
Kelly did, too.
And we were waiting
and waiting and waiting.
So at that moment,
I finished my duties
as a commentator,
Kelly and I jumped on a boat,
we went out.
The first thing we saw
when we got to the line-up
is the biggest waves
anybody's ever seen.
When that set first started
to appear on the horizon,
we could just see the lines
coming in.
And it was just absolutely huge.
Like, I've been out in Fiji
ten, twenty times
and seen huge sets and I've
never seen anything like this.
I mean, the feeling
that we all had in our gut
as this thing hit the line-up...
I'm watching it
come down the reef
and just doing
these ungodly things.
And I was paddling over it,
but I wanted
to kind of stall at the...
'Cause I wasn't really sure
if I was gonna make it
over or not.
But the second that I knew I was
gonna make it over that first wave,
I tried to go over
as slowly as possible
'cause I wanted a real look
at the transition.
And there was this spray coming off the back
of the wave, and I can't see anything yet.
But what I do see is just
black wall of water across.
I remember thinking
"There it is. This is it.
"This wave is so perfect.
"I've never seen
anything like this"
"in my whole entire life."
It was just, like,
survival, "Okay."
"I'm paddling
because I'm gonna die"
"if I'm gonna get sucked
under this wave."
Okay, I'm shaking
talking about it.
The noise that it made
coming down the reef
was out of control.
It was rushing down the reef.
And people are just scratching
to get out of the way.
I witnessed...
what is probably the biggest
wave I've ever photographed,
biggest barrel
I've ever photographed.
Maybe 50-foot high
and about 60-foot throwing out.
The coolest thing was Mark Healey
paddling up the face of this wave,
barely making it over
the first wave of the set.
And I remember I just turned
and I just started paddling,
and I heard somebody right
under us yelling, "Go! Go!"
And I remember
looking up the reef,
and I remember seeing the lip
line just detonating on the reef.
And I remember looking down
and I remember seeing Healey,
like, way down there.
I was paddling up.
And I'm paddling like
up and over out,
and I'm looking down at him,
and looking at this barrel, the
biggest barrel I've ever seen.
And I just see him, like,
dive underneath.
And I'm like, "Oh, fuck, I'm
so glad I'm not him right now."
What a lot of people
don't realize as well
is that, when those
big waves pass,
there's a lot of momentum,
even after
you've paddled over it,
that's pulling you back.
So, my first strokes
to get going,
and try to get under this next
wave of undetermined size,
I'm still going backwards.
I'm just watching myself
lose ground
and burn more energy.
So I'm like, "Oh, boy."
"Here we go. I'm probably
not gonna make it."
This is just an apocalyptic view
that I have in front of me.
Okay, I gotta time my strokes.
How much energy am I
willing to use right now
to chance getting under it,
while still keeping my ability
to possibly hold my breath
for a really long time
and take a really
intense impact?
Until the second one went by,
then I heard everybody yelling.
And I was like,
"Oh, no, what happened?"
I'm in Fiji all the time.
And I've never seen
a wave like that.
Every photo that I took...
just felt like this was gonna be
the greatest shot I've ever taken.
I just hear the thing.
I remember the smells,
I remember the noise,
I just remember...
Boom! The implosions.
I remember reef and seaweed
just flying in the air.
I knew I had to
time my last stroke
to get my leash off.
What I had to do,
since I didn't have a pull pin,
is it had to be
a left-handed stroke,
and reach around my leg
and I knew I had to
get it off in one swipe.
I just remember
just doing these big strokes,
frog kicks, and just
going for your life.
And seeing the sun,
and it took me a while.
I was deep underwater
and coming up,
and soon as I hit the surface
I didn't even look,
I was just swimming
for the horizon.
After what I just saw,
like, I ruled nothing out.
Like, it just
shocked my reality.
Like, there could be
a 200-footer behind this,
for all I know,
and we're all dead.
So I just...
hit the surface swimming.
I remember Healey
popping up right over here,
swimming, and I'm like, "Hey, are
you all right?" He's like, "Yeah."
You know, his board already
took his leash off, thank God.
I see his little
blonde head floating,
like, "Help me. I can't
move already, I'm tired."
I was like, "I got you.
We're out of here."
It's over.
It just changed the whole
vibe of the place.
It was like, you know,
somebody dropped a bomb.
Um, at that moment,
I'm lacing up my leash
on my board.
I look over at Kelly,
I'm like, "Did you see that?"
Kelly's taking off his leash,
and he said to me,
"That's not what I'm here for."
And I put on my leash.
I said, "That's exactly
what I'm here for."
And I jumped in the water,
paddled out.
I paddle out,
there's ten guys in a line.
I went up to
every single one of them,
and I shook their hand,
I hugged them,
I told them what I had seen.
And I'm shaking, I'm hugging,
I'm telling them
all these great things,
and as I go down the line,
I end up in pole position.
Okay. And all of a sudden,
a set pumps up.
He came out, and he looked at
me, he's going, "Man, I got you."
There it is. Boom.
"And I'm on this giant
yellow banana 10'2"
and everybody goes,
"Go, Wassel!"
And I said, "No, no, no.
I'll wait, I'll wait."
And they said, "No, go!"
So I flipped around, I went...
And you know, at this point,
I don't even know what happened.
That was awesome!
Oh, my God.
Then he went right out,
just paddled right out,
turned around, and that wave
came, he did the bronco,
a Dave Wassel
bucking Bronco grab rail.
It was radical.
I could just hear everybody
yelling and screaming.
And I knew
it was a special wave.
And sure enough,
he got the cover
and yeah, he got one of the
best waves of the whole swell.
And I looked at him
and I told him...
"You're out of here."
"Really?" I'm like, "Yeah,
They've just been out all day,
"they haven't even
sniffed a wave like that."
"You're done. Go to the boat,
be a hero."
I said, "Oh, no, no, no, you have no idea.
I just got started."
"You wait till what
I'm gonna do next."
He goes, "You've been out here"
"for less than five minutes.
"These guys have
been out for eight hours.
"You just shit on everybody."
"You're done."
And I'm sorry to swear,
but that's what he said.
And I said, "Kai, look",
"I respect you,
"but this is kinda like,"
"you know, this doesn't
happen too often."
He's like,
"You have no idea." I said,
"This comes back
to bite me in the ass
"that I turned around
and went in,
"after only catching one wave,
"I'm gonna come
talk to you later."
"We're gonna
sit down and discuss this."
He said,
"Don't worry about it."
He drove me back on the ski
to where you, Brian,
you were sitting
with all the ASP top surfers.
And all I got was
cheers, screams, and beers
pouring on my head.
And Kelly, who was on that boat,
said, "That is the single best two minutes
of big wave riding the world's ever seen."
That is the best
one-and-done session
of all time.
Unbelievable, Dave.
- Not bad? That was
solid as a rock, bud.
That was a deep one.
Guys are out there
their whole lives,
they don't get a wave like that.
And if he would've went back out, he
probably would've got hurt or died.
He said hi to everybody
and a bomb came,
and everyone was like,
"Oh, you're kinda
in the spot. Go, go, go!"
He just whipped it and got
one of the best barrels ever.
Like, literally, it's one of
the best barrels ever.
Best big barrels ever.
I can't believe it didn't win
any awards,
it's kind of ridiculous
that it didn't.
Uh, if that's true,
I don't know,
but, uh, you know, maybe
I can cash that in somewhere.
Just being there,
and having the opportunity
to, like,
be that close
to something so powerful,
um, it was pretty special.
That was two of the biggest swells
I've ever seen in my whole life,
in a space of about
eight months.
Teahupo'o was mutant.
You know, it's a mutant.
But that was unicorns...
and you know, just white rhinos.
Everyone gears up,
goes into battle,
gives it everything they got
and then they head home.
You know, most of the time
there's a little bit of emptiness,
uh, often there's
a lot of disappointment
that the conditions didn't
just quite come together right.
But then, hopefully,
at least once in your lifetime,
if you're a big wave surfer,
there's the rarest
of rare experiences,
the white rhino.
You know, Nathan Fletcher's wave
in Tahiti is what I considered
the craziest wave
ever ridden by a human.
And it wasn't a perfect wave and it
probably should have never been ridden.
And the difference between
that and the swell in Fiji
was that this wave was
absolutely flawless and perfect.
Top to bottom
barreling like a machine.
Only five times bigger than
anything I'd ever seen. It was huge.
And it started on the outside
and peeled all the way
down the reef.
It's like nothing
I've ever witnessed before.
And it was by far
the biggest, craziest
and most perfect wave I've
ever experienced in my life.
- A writer's got grit and
- Yeah
- A poet's got soul, fuck yeah
- Yeah
Fillin' the cracks you make
With the thoughts
You could never let go
Spilling your vision
Takes a toll on that mind
If you're feeling the weight
Don't worry
It'll lighten as
You're passing the time
Let me tell you something
Brian as a photographer. Hmm.
Brian's a great photographer.
You know, I don't...
A lot of photographers, I, uh,
you know, I don't really...
hang out with much, but Brian's
someone I can hang out with.
He's, uh...
He's funny, he's, uh...
He's really funny.
You know, get him at a certain
hour, and he's a really funny guy.
Raimana Van Bastolaer.
God, what is the matter with me?
I can't remember how to say it.
He got into it pretty well.
He's got these great long arms.
I've been asking Santa Claus
for those arms for years,
he's not listening.
I still got these little things.
This one?
Well, Brian, that's called
being conceited.
Raimana Van Bastolaer.
May 5th... No.
Next thing I know,
I was ass over tea kettle,
I was kissing my eggs goodbye
to that omelet in the sky,
and looking out of the barrel,
upside down. It's a very
unique perspective.
You know, sometimes I wish
I had the camera.
Nathan Fletcher, Teahupo'o,
Code Red swell.
August 27th, 2011.