Jeff Divine’s best photograph: a wipeout on surfing’s greatest wave

Jeff Divine’s best photograph: a wipeout on surfing’s greatest wave

July 23, 2020

‘Other surfers at Oahu kept away from Fred. His eyesight was so bad, they were scared he’d wipe them out too’

This wave is known as the Pipeline. It breaks near the north shore of Oahu, Hawaii’s third largest island. It’s one of the pinnacles of surf culture. In the 1970s, when this shot was taken, it was probably the most radical wave in the world. We knew of nothing else like it.

To catch a wave like this, you need to amass a wealth of knowledge from years on the ocean. In California, the slope of the wave is more gentle, thanks to the gradient of the seabed to the shore. In this part of Hawaii, the waves form on such deep water that when they reach the shallow reefs near the shore, they tower right up and create a ledge at the crest. They go straight up and down.

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