There are a few milestones in a surfer’s life that are rarely forgotten. The barrel of a lifetime counts as one. The cover of a surf magazine, while much less commonly experienced, certainly counts as another. Huntington Beach’s golden child, Brett Simpson, managed to accomplish both of these feats in one fell swoop after scoring perfect Nicaragua with SURFER ace photographer, Scott Aichner. The two linked up on a drainer during a last-minute jaunt to Central America, making for the magic that is SURFER’s July 2009 covershot.
We caught up with Brett to hear the story behind the shot.
Tell us about the trip that led to the shot.
It actually was kind of a last second trip. Jesse Merle-Jones, Dane Ward, Stephen Koehne, Jason Shibata, and I all went down to Nicaragua, and I was actually debating whether to go or not. The first leg of the WQS was starting, but Nicaragua was somewhere I always wanted to visit. We did four days there, so it was a quick trip. It was the first swell of the year there, so there were definitely a lot of close-outs, but we surfed Colorado’s and over a period of three days it was starting to get really good.
After that wave, did you know that was the shot?
You know, everyday you come in and you check the photos after the session, and Scott Aichner seemed pretty jazzed when he saw it. You never know if the shots are going to turn out, but we got tons of good stuff from that trip. It was pretty special. I had this weird feeling about it – like something good was going to happen. I didn’t really want to jinx it, because I’ve had a couple close calls with covers before and it was something I put aside, and was just stoked that I had a good shot.
After the trip I sent Aichner’s shots to Hurley, and Pat O’Connell was like, “That’s a shot you’re going to remember.” It’s actually my first cover of any of the major surf magazines so it’s pretty special. I’m pretty stoked.
Had you ever shot with Scott Aichner before?
I’ve met him before in Hawaii, but it’s just chaos though, you know? So many people. So we had never really shot before, but it was definitely worth the while to go down there with him
Do you remember the wave specifically?
I caught a wave before and he was kind of a little bit too far out, and it was pretty good size and closed out in the end. I came back out and knew I had to make sure he was in the zone because I paid a little bit of a price on the last one. We were rotating and this one came in and it started off not looking like much, and it just hucked. He was right there. There were probably like 6 six shots in the sequence that were crystal clear from the beginning to when he goes around and that’s just his part of being a great water photographer, and I just tried to stand there until the end.
After Bali, Brett heads to the Maldives for a six-star PRIME event, eager to continue his good fortune and make headway on his quest for World Tour qualification.