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Welcome to Balaram Stack’s Liquid Halfpipe

Behind The Photo with Mike Nelson

For SURFER’s 58.2 cover, we featured one Balaram Stack stuck in the lip of what looks to be a triple overhead liquid spine (For reference, click here). The moment poses all sorts of thought-provoking questions: What? When? Where? Is this even surfing? Exactly how does one find that covershot moment of two waves converging onto another from two completely different swell directions?

Well, photographer Mike Nelson dropped another gem on Instagram yesterday, and we were quick to pick it up. It features Balaram Stack bracing [maybe] for a collision with mother earth’s liquidity. “I was jumping off before the explosion to avoid what surely would be a broken eardrum. It was like two trucks hitting each other. The angle of the swell was causing the two waves to collide with more power than I’ve ever seen before,” says Balaram.

Nelson, who photographed our cover from the same session, had this to say: “This moment was photographed about a half-hour before the cover was shot. Basically, the wave coming at Balaram was wrapping 360-degrees around the reef and would run back out to sea and slam into the next incoming wave. It happened on every set. Bal, always up for a challenge, was trying to transition from one wave to the other just like a halfpipe. He got slammed a bunch of times, as it was very violent on some of them.”

You have to wonder, what if it was possible to transition from wave to wave like it was some sort of oceanic mini-ramp? We’ve seen snippets of fun attempts. Dylan Graves in Puerto Rico, for one, has gotten close. We’re sure Nathan Fletcher would be down to give it a solid attempt. Shall we power up the boat and take another crack at it?