Behind the Cover

The image that made the cover. Tyler Wright, P-Pass, Micronesia. Photo: Grambeau/Swilly

We made a women’s surf mag last year. And then you liked it, so we made another one. The second issue of SALTED is on newsstands now, and it’s filled with all sorts of goodness—trips to China and Iceland and the middle of nowhere in Mexico, photo features and profiles and interviews with tons of the female surfers you love and others you have never even heard of. While we were putting it together, Tyler Wright happened to scored this epic session at P-Pass in Micronesia. As soon as our Photo Editor opened the email containing the images, we knew we had our next cover. I got Tyler on the phone this week while she was making pancakes at home in Gerringong, to hear more about the session that landed her the front page of Issue 2. —Janna Irons

How did this Micronesia mission come about?
I wasn’t even meant to be on the trip. It was supposed to be a guys’ trip. I was actually flying out to Hawaii the next day, then I got a call from Rip Curl, saying, “It might be stupid to ask, but would you want to go to P-Pass?” I was like, “Wait, give me a minute. I hung up and asked my brother, Owen, what I should do. He goes, “P-Pass: 10 people out. Hawaii: 200 people out.” “OK, I’m going to P-Pass,” I said. I was planning to go to Hawaii to surf some big waves and get some shots, but as it turned out, going to P-Pass served me way better.

Did you have any idea it was going to be that big when you booked your ticket?
Not really, no. I just went. I’ve heard really good reports about how you take off and it’s kind of just an easy roll-in and then it grows.

Was it “easy roll-in” you’d expected?
It was hard, but you figure out as you go along. I had a lot of help though, having Owen there. He explained a lot to me, like, “When it does this, you’ve got to do this, and when it does that, you have to do that.” There were a bunch of other guys there too—Wilko and Luke Hynd were with us, and then Wade Goodall, Kolohe Andino, and a few other guys were on another trip. I learned a lot. You watch them and they’re so fantastic. I saw Wade Goodall take off on this one wave and he just literally stood up and did nothing and the wave barreled over him…a 12-foot wave. It was crazy. Then Owen was just toying with these 12-foot waves. It’s heavy. It was by far the biggest wave I’ve ever surfed. You get smashed out there.

Tyler in Micronesia, after two days of marathon session—15 hours of surf over two days. Photo: Grambeau/Swilly

Tell us about the wave that made the cover.
It looks like I’m smiling, but I was just screaming in the barrel. I was so petrified. I thought I was going to die. I was paddling into it and Owen was right in front of me. He was going to go, then he’s like, “You want this one?” I was like, “I think I do.” And he was like, “Go.” I was paddling into it and the wall was so wide. I was like, “Oh no, this is a closeout.” I stood up and I was just screaming my head off. I thought I was going to get smoked. But I didn’t. I came out. I will remember that wave forever.

On a quick-hit, three-day trip like that, how many hours do you clock in the water?
We surfed four or five hours on the first day when it was the biggest, then 10 hours the next day because it was still big but super clean. That was the day I got the cover shot from. By the third day it was still big, but we were all just exhausted from the day before. We could barely move.

Do you think you’ll continue pushing yourself to surf even bigger waves?
I wouldn’t say no to it. But I wouldn’t actually jump in headfirst. I’d rather just put my toes in, and then slowly get into the water. But if another swell like that came through, I’d definitely be going. To get all this from that one wave, it just shows what happens when you put yourself out there and you’re just having a good time and being yourself.

Find SALTED on your local newsstand today. You can also buy it here, or download the digital version here (install the free SURFER app, then click on SALTED). Watch Tyler’s session at P-Pass below.