The December Issue is on newsstands, and if you haven’t had the chance to pick it up for yourself, it’s full of amazing stories and equally amazing imagery. The cover story for the issue takes our readers to the tropical island chain of Papua New Guinea, a nation marked by dense jungles, vibrant coral reefs, and perfect waves. We sent a young crew to the islands, including Josh Moniz, Leo Fioravanti, and Jackson Butler, to meet up with Mark Palm, a medevac pilot who balances lifesaving and and a fanatical surfing obsession. Photographer Ryan “Chachi” Craig, who shot the cover image, describes how he captured the candid intersection of two diverse worlds:
We took a short boat ride out to one of Mark’s favorite spots. From the distance, we could see the waves wrapping around the island, hugging a horseshoe reef and looking a lot like Indo. After arriving and checking a handful of sets from the boat, we watched as kids from the island took notice of us and climbed onto this massive piece of driftwood at the edge of the reef. This piece of wood must have been carried to its resting spot by a huge swell, because it clearly weighed tons – literally – and it looked as though it had been there for a long time. Marc (the filmer) and I caked on bug spray and decided to shoot from land. I walked around the tiny island and enjoyed the welcoming smiles of the locals, while looking for various angles to photograph the wave. Every time Josh, Leo, Mark, Drake (Mark's son), Jackson, Shawn, or Kimball [Taylor] rode a wave, the kids were ecstatic. Yelling, hooting, pointing, laughing, they were clearing enjoying the show. It only took about ten minutes of me walking around behind the stump before the kids completely forgot that I was even there. Their focus was on the surf. That entire session felt surreal and otherworldly. It was pure and refreshing to witness the kids’ curiosity and genuine stoke.