CHRISTIE'S BEST OF 2009
This is (in my opinon) the best 21 photographs of 2009. It gets more difficult every year to narrow the field down. I started with about 4000 from the best of every trip during the season. I ended up with about 400 that should be able to fit on a single DVD in case anybody wants one. Then I sifted through and found my favourites for various reasons, described below. Special thanks to Alice Trend - our resort photographer - for taking all the pictures, unless otherwise noted.
Most of my favourite photographs invoke some sentiment of what it was like to be there when the picture was taken. I took this one in the late afternoon as the guests (and bartender) were paddling around the bay, out front. This photo captures for me the exact moment with the warming sun in my eyes, the playfulness, the perfect parallel paddles. I'm sure it can't be rated technically, but then I've never been interested in technicalities.
OK, let's just get this one out of the way. Occasionally at WavePark there appears on the nightly slide show a photograph other than surfing (Nooooooo!!!). Even more seldom there is a picture of a scantily clad, good looking girl looking out from the projector screen. But you've got better odds of winning the lottery than of taking this photo in the Mentawais.
Another technically terrible photograph, except that this sums up for me the dilemma of providing high speed wireless internet on the island. It enables MY lifestyle, and it allows some of our guests to stay out longer than they otherwise would be able to. However, at some level there is a longing for the old days when we never knew when the swell would arrive (it just showed up!). We didn't know (until we got home) how many girls Tiger had taken to bed aside from his wife, and we would just watch the sunset and think about those who couldn't be with us, rather than skype-ing them while it happens.
The original pick is the straighten out claim by Laka, but I realized that it would be better to put it in context. So above him I plastered shot 13 / 20 of him getting shacked at Kandui Left. Top 3 of his lifetime he reckons, and the way the boy surfs, I can't imagine what the top 1 and 2 were like. I love the hands. I can imagine the look of incredulity on his face of the barrel he just squeaked out of before getting swamped by the white-wash. Go Laka!
I decided at the beginning of the 2009 season that I would surf a 5'10 Stoneman twin fin through hell or high water, and I pulled it off (mostly). I soon realized that ripping on a fish doesn't have the same meaning as ripping on a thruster. My goal is to find a flawless "line" on every wave. "Where does the board want to go?" as Tom Curren would say. This photo represents a successful line drawn on my favourite wave, with my new favourite board.
This shot is midway through one of the best barrels I've ever had, and definitely in the top 5 this season. The twin fin surprisingly helped me at the more critical waves by giving me unheard of speed down the line. Although it was a challenge to hold a fin or two in the steep faces at Kandui Left or Rifles, I felt more at ease because I had a few more horses when I pushed the pedal to the metal. GIDDYUP!
Part of my job is to coach guests that ask for help. Sometimes they don't ask, but I have to open my mouth anyway :~) Stephen comes a couple times a year, and on this trip we were working on keeping his head vertical, rather than tilting it right when he pulled in. It instantly worked for him, and Alice was on hand to capture his first "proper shack in 20 years".
This is a new facet of my job as the families start arriving. Somewhere between surf coach, baby-sitter and boat driver... Getting the kids amped on surfing is a no-brainer at playgrounds.
Like I said, families from all over the world are starting to realize the beauty that WavePark has to offer. This really sums up for me the quality time that they can enjoy when they come to our small island in the middle of the Indian Ocean. It is a great feeling for us to host and get to know these people while they are relaxed and on holiday.
Perfect Kandui Left, nobody out. Anything else you want to know?
I told the guests, "I'll paddle out and see if it's surfable." On my way out, this is what I encountered. I couldn't exactly break it down play by play to the guests from that distance, so I let my body language say it all. "Ummm, here you go, dig in".
Jeff took off on a bomb at Kandui Left. I think this was the biggest wave of the swell, and he was at the right place at the right time. Almost. He had to straighten out over the reef, but he got the shot and the "best of" for sure.
Kaliang used to be the resort photographer at Kandui Resort, our neighbors. This shot of Shane was taken on his second day with a water housing, still trying to get it figured out. We can't wait to see what he comes up with in 2010; he definitely has an eye for timing on the shutter, and a knack for being in the right place at the right time.
I took this shot from the top floor veranda of the beach house. Late afternoon, just our guests out, a little low tide and draining. It captures exactly what it felt like to be up there watching the action below, with a cold beer in my hand.
Sometimes I think I'm more proud than the guests when they get waves like this. We had another clinic on the island this year, called "labrador to pig-dog". Robert comes a couple times a year and partook of our clinic, paddled out at Hideaways and got properly shacked with his new knowledge. I'm beaming, can you tell?
No, this isn't photoshopped. Thank you goes out to Craig Cheary for this photo which I LOVED the moment I saw it. WavePark guests paddling towards an August Hideways swell.
Here's Jared, our surf guide for the season getting a shack at Ebay. Jared did a great job in 2009 and I'd like to thank him publicly.
Capturing the feeling of a location is a very difficult thing to do, especially an interior like our bar. The use of all natural materials makes for a very difficult shoot, and I really think this picture captured the essence of what it is like to kick back in the lounge with a magazine, sit at the bar for a frosty beverage, or eat a meal with the other guests.
Another picture that I think turned out just right. The living room and porch of our bungalows in the late afternoon sunlight.
This trip was top of the list in 2009. The man in the picture proposed to his girlfriend on the island (she said yes), and they both scored 11 "A" grade waves on fire in 10 days. Bankvaults in the late stormy afternoon with just 3 of us out. There is video of this day as well.
Last but not least, the earthquake of September 30th, 2009. This photo vividly reminds me of the devastation felt by all of us here. The dust, the danger, the hard work ahead, the slouched tired posture, grabbing what you can carry, the dirt, the overall precariousness of life. It was an event hopefully never repeated.
We are standing by to make your dreams a reality.