On Tuesday, October 9, 2012, Shane Dorian paddled into a monster swell at Jaws and ended up surfing the best wave of his life. He flew down the face, over an air bubble that almost knocked him down, and raised his arms in triumph once in the barrel—until he realized he had a lot more surfing to do. Eventually, he emerged from the wave's spray standing up and soon garnered an early entry into the 2013 Billabong XXL Big Wave Awards.
There are a slew of stories coming out now about the rebuilding effort in the Rockaways. Residents who witnessed the storm destroy many homes, damage others, and take the lives of their neighbors are struggling to salvage what's left. After the storm hit, Matthew Power embedded with Doctors Without Borders as they set up a station in the Far Rockaways to help with the recovery. Abe Streep of Outsidetagged along with a crew from Team Rubicon who worked to gut and help rebuild a home in Belle Harbor.
Not long ago, villagers on the remote Mentawai island chain off the west coast of Sumatra lived without electricity, cell phone reception, and even a local government. But, as has happened to many other tropical paradises, word got out about the islands' exceptional surf. Their perfectly curled waves, white sand beaches, turquoise water, and coconut palms have earned the islands the nickname "Garden of Eden" among surfers, who started arriving there en masse in the late 1990s. If all goes according to the plans of developers and the newly formed island government, the Mentawais will be the next hot spot in Indonesia travel guides.
But a motivated English surfer and a group of ambitious locals are working hard to ensure that island residents get a seat at the table and that the Mentawais grow in a sustainable fashion.
In 2010, a devastating tsunami flattened the western edges of the Mentawai archipelago. During the rebuilding efforts, a Portuguese boat captain named Goncalo Ruivo struck up a conversation with an English surfer named Elizabeth Murray. Having recently taken up residence in Katiet, a surfing hub of the islands, Murray told Ruivo about a passion project to start a local school that would teach lessons in English and surfing. This struck Ruivo, since he recognized these as essential for local Mentawaians who want to prosper in the changing economic landscape. Murray, who went to college in the United States on a sports scholarship, was particularly adamant about teaching young girls to swim and surf.
In October of 2012, Ruivo visited the village where Murray was working and found himself "amazed with the success of her program," he says. Murray taught her first English lessons on the sand earlier in 2012 using a whiteboard tacked to a coconut tree. A fluid group of about 15 kids would meet in the afternoons, in the hours after school and before supper. After about a month, Murray moved her lessons into an unused community center, and the group swelled into a loyal crowd of about 90 pupils, including the initial kids and their parents. The sight inspired Ruivo to donate proceeds from a photo book he'd published following the tsunami to fund Murray's newly minted non-profit organization, called A Liquid Future.
On Friday, December 21, big-wave surfer Greg Long suffered a wipeout on a giant wave at Cortes Bank. In the aftermath, he fought through a three-wave hold down before losing consciousness in the water. A detailed report from ESPN described the full incident on December 24. Here is part of their account:
Long—a repeat Billabong XXL winner who's also taken the Maverick's
contest—was forced off his board when fellow surfer Garrett McNamara
unknowingly dropped in on him, blocking Long's line and causing both
men to tumble into the deep. The massive wave the pair paddled into
(about 25 feet, according to on-location photographer Frank Quirarte)
pinned Long down through a rapid series of bombs and knocked the wind
out of him, preventing him from catching his breath whenever he managed
to break through the wash.
Here's a short video that might influence how you spend some of your time: 70-year-old Spaniard Juan Giriber recounting his first drop into a tube. The clip is a teaser for The Old, The Young, and The Sea, a documentary about a filmmaking team's 16-week journey along the European coast in two VW buses looking for characters who ride waves and protect the ocean.