On November 11, a 30-foot swell rolled across the Pacific, setting in motion the first-ever all-women big-wave surfing contest in the World Surf League. It was one for the record books.
A big northwest swell lit the North Shore's Banzai Pipeline, providing spectacular makes and even more spectacular slams.
When it came time to find someone for the cover of our annual happiness issue, Stephanie Gilmore jumped off the page. With six world surfing titles and a balanced outlook on life we could all learn from, the surf star lives by some pretty simple words: "I'm going to just enjoy exactly where I am." Fortunately for Gilmore, she is usually in places like Hawaii, Mexico, and Sri Lanka chasing the biggest waves she can find. We caught up with one of surfing's best photographers, Morgan Maassen, who has been shooting Gilmore for years, both on and off the water. Maassen says it best, "Stephanie always has three things on her: a magic surfboard, some sort of exotic guitar, and her golden smile."
Cold-weather surfers are cut from a different cloth. Eager to travel north, these guys dodge icebergs between sets and aren't afraid to freeze for the perfect Arctic barrel. Photographer Chris Burkard has the heart of a cold-weather surfer but more impressively, the eye to capture these stunning Nordic scenes from places such as Iceland, Norway, and Russia.