Full Frame: “There’s No Lineups, It’s Breaking All Over, You Just Have To Be In The Right Place At The Right Time When A Bomb Comes In”
Brett Barley on Hatteras Island, by Daniel Pullen
“Unfortunately, it’s looking like the best hurricane season ever on the East Coast right now,” Kelly Slater recently said, lamenting his hip recovery in conversation with Kai Lenny.
Following the extended tenure of Hurricanes Franklin and Idalia, another pulse of tropical swell — dubbed Lee — brought more long period spoils to the perpetually starving East Coast masses.
“There’s been nonstop swell over here,” photographer Daniel Pullen told me. “It feels like it’s been a couple weeks, which is kinda rare for us. This wave was actually Brett’s first wave of the session. The spot is kinda gnarly, it’s pretty far out, probably like 200-300 yards. Most of the waves on Hatteras Island — the Lighthouse, the piers — they can’t really handle long period swell, which is generally what hurricanes produce. There’s a couple of spots around here that can handle it, like this place, but you’ve gotta really want it.
“Usually you have to walk a quarter mile up the beach because there’s so much lateral current — sometimes you make it out, sometimes you don’t. It kinda reminds me of Ocean Beach in San Francisco, it’s a super long paddle and it’s really gnarly. There’s a shorebreak you’ve gotta go through, and then there’s a trough, and then you hit this sandbar which has so much water moving that it keeps you in place. You just take wave after wave after wave on the head.
“The guys who grew up here usually make it out on their first attempt, but even they get denied sometimes. I think Brett, Quentin Turko, and Cory Lopez all walked down a quarter mile and paddled out first. Quentin and Brett made it out pretty quick, and then Cory didn’t make it out until he was right in front of us, he drifted all the way down.”
Though the photograph looks like a familiar angle for an East Coast beachbreak, Daniel explains the unique circumstances which led him to such a shot.
“I had actually rented an especially long lens because I was supposed to be working with some kite-boarders. That ended up falling through because of lost luggage, so I figured I’d go down and shoot some surfing. The longest lens I usually use is a 70-200mm, which means you have to shoot this spot pulled way back like a lineup shot. The one I had rented was a 200-600mm, which worked out to my advantage — it was a pretty unique opportunity to get a photo like that.
“I shot for about two and a half hours, maybe three. That was Brett’s best wave for sure. He got a bunch of other ones, but they weren’t like that. Quentin got a couple too. It was a pretty solid lineup of who’s who on the East Coast, a really high caliber of surfers, and there still weren’t a ton of waves being ridden. That shows how hard it is to get a wave out there. There’s no lineups, it’s breaking all over, you just have to be in the right place at the right time when a bomb comes in.”
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