Stab Concept Shoot: Taj Burrow and Mark Mathews, The Right (All the angles)
All photos by Russell Ord
The Right in Western Australia does not do halves. So when Mark Mathews and Taj Burrow towed into the same wave there on Friday, August 1, they had to be completely committed. Stab’s concept was simple: Mark would hold a camera and pull into a wave behind Taj, capturing surfing imagery unlike anything ever seen before.
Taj wanted to ride a wave solo first, to warm up. Mark said no; Not under any circumstances. “The one I see you ride from the channel is the one I don’t get the shot on,” said Mark. “Pretend I’m not there. You won’t know I’m there. I’m invisible. But, don’t let your hand touch the face. Don’t wreck my shot.”
The session certainly had its consequences. Aside from Stab’s proposed shot never having been attempted over reef before, there was also the fact that The Right is notorious for multiple wave hold-downs. But, it had to be The Right; few other waves in the world could so perfectly fit two surfers in the barrel.
And Mark and Taj were playing for keeps. Mark didn’t want a shoulder; he even cut back deeper on some. After nailing a number of shots, a wave came through that was going to open up into the best studio ever seen in surf photography. They let go of the rope and pulled in. Taj drew a perfect high line and Mark’s camera was glued to his subject. Then, the exit closed.
Mark has experienced countless wipeouts in his big wave career. But this was number one. By a long margin. He took home a ruptured eardrum and a torn up face. But also some of the craziest footage ever captured.
The full story of Stab and Red Bull’s trip to The Right in pursuit of the greatest surf photo of all time will air in a mini-doc this month, exclusively on RedBull.com/Surfing and Stabmag.com.
Til then, here's the POV, ski and boat angles from one wave.