The day started early. 5:30am. I’m not sure if it was my excitement and anticipation of the day ahead or if I was still on East Coast time. I guess the reason isn’t important. I was down on the beach and ready for a day of surfing and music by 9am. So all was well.
Live music wasn’t scheduled to start until noon, but there was plenty of surfing to entertain me until then. I made my way through the crowd that had already started to gather and down to where the surfing events were taking place. There were a few different contest scheduled throughout the day, including the Rob Machado Junior Surf Competition. These kids put me to shame. Of course they probably have been surfing since they could walk, but still…I was impressed.
There were tons of photographers and at least one or two news crews.
This is a big even. It’s a big deal. And it’s grown over the years, the knowledge of the event even reaching different countries.
For me, as a photographer (and lover of music, surfing and the ocean), it was an extremely big deal. I had dreamed about attending this event since the first year it was held – 10 years ago. And even though I wasn’t working the event, I was still “working” it with my trusted sidekick – my camera.
So we were all watching the surfing competitions. The waves and current still looked rough and after speaking to a couple of people who had been out there my thoughts were confirmed. I enjoyed watching every minute of it. I was mesmerized by these guys. I’m well aware they’ve been doing this for a while and put in a lot of practice, but they made it look so simple. It seemed to come to them as easy as breathing. Natural. I was busy studying their movements every time they readied to catch a wave. That’s part of how I learn, by watching others. And when I wasn’t watching the surfers, I was roaming around the beach taking pictures. I ended up with a lot of candid shots, but those are some of the pictures I like best. The candid. The in-the-moment. I love those shots. There’s something truly special about them.
Later on, in the early afternoon, there was the Surf Jousting Competition. This was something that I had been waiting to see. A handful of people grab boards and this thing that resembles and giant Q-tip before heading out into the ocean. It’s all about having fun, but the point is to knock the other surfers off their boards.
There are no surf leashes on these boards, so the waves would push them to the shore. Once, Chad, Switchfoot’s drummer, had to retrieve his board. It was stopped by these two young boys. The one stayed and handed him the stick that looked like a giant Q-tip as well as the surfboard. I’m not sure how the following events came about, but I’m glad I was there to see it. Next thing I know he’s holding the board with one hand and the boy’s arm with the other, helping him stand on the surfboard. They waited until a small wave was coming toward the shore and Chad helped the young boy ride his first wave.
His face lit up. And I could feel myself smiling too.
It was such a great and kind thing to do.
But that’s Chad.
And I think he made that boy’s day.
If you would like to see more photos from the Switchfoot Bro-Am surfing, you can do so by going here.