A salute to the strength and courage of quadriplegic surfer Jesse Billauer
In a collective way, we’re used to seeing Jesse Billauer now. We’ve seen him ride many waves over the years, but before we take his surfing for granted, let’s all pause for a minute. Let’s close our eyes and really think about this. Try to imagine the leap of faith—the unbridled courage—it must take to not only drop into, but ride a solid wave as a paraplegic.
Peter Mendia runs from the law at a Taiwanese reefbreak
Apparently when a typhoon gets anywhere near the coast and the surf comes up, they “close” the ocean in Taiwan. Everybody has to get out. It’s against the law to be in the water. But that’s right where the boys wanted to be, and that’s where they were going to stay. They had just found a firing, untouched lefthand reefbreak and they weren’t about to leave a virgin lineup that was just starting to turn on. Plus, what was the guy going to do? Swim out and arrest them?
Paying tribute to one of the unsung surf legends of the '70s
Gerry Lopez, Wayne Lynch, Barry Kanaiaupuni, Rabbit Bartholomew, Buttons Kaluhiokalani, Shaun Tomson, Larry Bertleman, Mark Richards…there’s definitely not a shortage of '70s surf legends. If you ask me, however, one name from that era is too often overlooked: Max. As in Max the surf dog.
A Vanuatu local and his unconventional craft
Vanuatu is a small nation that sits in the Pacific triangulated by Fiji, the Solomons, and New Caledonia. It’s most famous for an unusual ritual: Men diving head-first from rickety 90-foot towers with only vines attached to their legs. Which made it less surprising when this Vanuatu local emerged from a beachfront construction site with just a wood slat under his arm.
One photograph sheds light on gender differences
This reaction reminded me how demonstrative an image can be. That I could relate the differences between the sexes without having to write a book. That, in fact, I could reveal the whole Men-are-from-Mars thing with a simple image. That when it comes to showing what one gender considers as discord and estrangement and another recognizes as complete peace and harmony, I could do it in one shot.
An inspiring photograph of an unknown surfing soldier
Although it’s something you can see in person on most mornings at Oceanside Harbor, it’s something you wouldn’t normally see in print. It’s not a radical air shot of some pro—it’s a surf image I find infinitely more inspiring: An image of self-sufficiency and hardcore dedication. A visual testament to a surfer who, despite a significant handicap, goes out and rips without help. Who surfs and then, without fanfare, an entourage, or a tailing media crew, shimmies himself back up to his gear, and hobbles back to his car. A photograph of an unknown soldier without a leg who, day after day, leaves his crutches—and his earthbound limitations—at the water’s edge.
One surfer's return to the lineup after years spent battling drug addiction
One surfer's return to the lineup after years spent battling drug addiction.
Carlos Velarde's transition from corporate climber to Costa Rican barrel-chaser
Despite having a beautiful young family and a highly coveted, well-paying job, Carlos Velarde had a disturbing turn-of-the-century revelation: He wasn’t happy. Having spent the last seven years clawing his way up the corporate ladder, Carlos woke up one day and realized that he had sacrificed too much in order to get there—he had strayed too far from the precious ocean lifestyle he held so dear.
Forget death-defying barrels, Rob Gilley offers images of more relatable perfection
Rob Gilley's tips on getting the most out of your surf travel dollar
Pace yourself. There are a couple of stories here to illustrate this point. The first is about an East Coast pro who got so excited on the first day of an Indo boat trip that he surfed for 9 hours straight…which basically ruined the rest of his trip. He was so sunburned and sore for the next 3 days that he couldn’t surf, and then the swell went flat. The other story is about a guy who blindly charged a double overhead, super-shallow right in Tahiti and ended up face-planting the reef on his first wave, was driven to the local hospital, and then was immediately sent home for reconstructive surgery.