Once on the fringes, big wave surfing has moved into the forefront of the sport of surfing with a generation of surfers riding waves of unfathomable height and magnitude, and reinventing the limits of what is surfable. The Finest Line is a photographic foray into the world of big wave surfing and the first book to look at this subculture as a whole.
Written by Rusty Long, professional surfer, journalist, photographer, and one of the biggest names in big wave surfing himself, The Finest Line takes us around the world, from one legendary wave to the next, with breathtaking images and awe-inspiring stories of hallmark sessions from such breaks as Maverick’s, Jaws, Cloudbreak, Teahupo’o, Belharra, Nazaré, Shipsterns Bluff, Dungeons, and Puerto Escondido. The book also includes interviews and insights from many of the leading surfers of this era, including Mark Healey, Greg Long, Grant “Twiggy” Baker, Mike Parsons, Peter Mel, Dave Wassel, Kohl Christensen, in addition to a foreword by famed surfer Tom Carroll.
FROM TOP: COVER: GRANT “TWIGGY” BAKER AT MAVERICK’S © FRANK QUIRARTE; SHANE DORIAN (L) AND MARK HEALY (R), JAWS, MAUI © ZAK NOYLE; ROSS CLARKE-JONES, PEDRA BRANCA, TASMANIA © STU GIBSON; GARRETT MCNAMARA, NAZARE, PORTUGAL © TÓ MANÉ
In the introduction, Long shares how from just after the turn of the century until 2014, big wave surfing has risen to completely new heights. Feats that were once very rare, like paddling into fifty-foot plus waves, have become normal. The introduction of the Jet Ski was perhaps the biggest factor in assisting big-wave progression. Tow-in surfing pulled surfers on to waves too big to paddle into. Surfer Laird Hamilton rose to prominence during this era, along with Buzzy Kerbox, Darrick Doerner, and Dave Kalama, who shattered boundaries with the Jet Ski assist, and redefined the way surfers could approach and ride giant waves. The tow-in surfing boom around the millennium, most prevalent at Jaws on Maui and Maverick’s off Half Moon Bay, California, opened the door to the pioneering of many other waves. Waves considered unrideable or even unapproachable, like the giants at Teahupo’o in Tahiti and Shipsterns Bluff in Tasmania, became rife with chargers yearning to be towed into the craziest waves possible.