Editor’s Note: Every time Quinn does something (anything), it’s probably his first time. And while I think he’d swam and shot at Pipe before, these were definitely the biggest waves he’d ever swam in. Which lends for good reading, especially when you line it up with the results you see below. Quinn wrote this and delivered the photos from Pipe you see below.—Travis
Pipe is scary. After playing basketball, barefoot, with Nate Lawrence for a few hours I walked over to the Hurley house at Pipe and the waves were firing. I got my water housing ready with Nat Young as he was putting on his last new Rockstar stickers and prepping his board to surf big Pipe. We watched a few sets come in to tried to get the timing right and agreed just to paddle out together after the next set. Then Nat sprinted ahead, paddled out and left me as I was pulling my wetsuit top on.
Since the current right off the beach is so strong you have to jump out at Backdoor and by the time you swim about 15 feet out past the current, it’s already pushed you 50 feet down the beach. I lucked out and there was a long enough break to make it out without copping one of the wide ones on the head. Once you’re out in the lineup the different rips and currents can be doing anything from pulling you out to sea, pushing you into the inside or sucking you down to Rockies. Besides that there was about 15 other photographers you have to jockey with to be in the right spot in order to not get anyone in the front of the picture. Which doesn’t often happen for me since I’m from California and relatively new — which puts me toward the bottom of the pecking order. But still you have to try and sit in front if not beside them sometimes. Then a wide set or Third Reef set will roll through the lineup and everyone makes a break for the channel. But since people are stupid, the other photographers sometimes try and box you out so you can’t get out of the way, or swing their housings around out of the water which will hit you, or me in my hamstring. But sometimes it’s nice to have other photographers out there, Jeremiah Klein for example brought out snacks that he shared with everyone.
Getting in is my least favorite though. You can’t see the sets out the back from water level so it’s just hoping that there’s enough of a break in the waves to make it in. My legs were cramping too, which made it even harder to swim in. I normally get sucked down to the end of Ehukai and get washed in from the white wash, other people probably do it better but that’s the easy way. —Quinn Matthews