Over the past few days, the world’s hardest-charging hellmen flocked to Cloudbreak in anticipation of a swell that was expected to create surf of historic proportions. The forecast was calling for absolutely mountainous waves, and it didn’t disappoint. As the swell started to trickle in, it looked like it would rival the infamous Code Red swell that bombarded Fiji back in 2012, during the Volcom Fiji Pro. As photos and footage were exported from the channel and uploaded onto social media, it quickly became clear that this swell would go down in history as one of the best and biggest days ever at Cloudbreak.
“I think this year [compared to the 2012 swell] everyone was far more prepared with their paddle boards, safety teams, and tow boards,” says staff photographer Todd Glaser, who was able to capture the groundbreaking day from the channel. “So when the biggest waves came that were questionable if they could be paddled, the tow teams got them.”
Scroll through the photos below, and see how the likes of Kelly Slater, Ramon Navarro, Luke Shepardson, Makua Rothman and more made big-wave history this weekend.
The early bird gets the biggest worm. Reef McIntosh and Alex Gray, scoping out the early-morning bounty. All photos by Glaser.
Mike Pietch, and Dane and Tanner Gudauskas, prepping for the swell at first light with their colorful rhino chasers in tow.
Kelly Slater and Jon Roseman, checking out the conditions at Cloudbreak from Tavarua.
During this time of year, boats are usually taking jersey-donning ‘CTers out to the Cloudbreak channel for the Fiji competition. This year the lineup was occupied by a who’s who of international XXL hunters.
After nabbing that monstrous paddle-in barrel at Teahupoo a few years ago, Nathan Florence proved he’s one of the best backhand barrel riders on the planet. Here he is, showing his backside chops once again.
Florence, unnaturally-poised for such a nerve-racking situation.
Makua Rothman is always ready for whatever the ocean throws at him-whether that means waxing up an over-10-foot paddle gun or a sub-6-foot tow board
Unidentified, hanging on for dear, dear life.
Luke Shepardson, knifing a steep takeoff.
Shepardson, in the belly of a best.
That had to have hurt. Shepardson, hitting the eject button at an inopportune moment.
Cloudbreak remains a sought-after wave for it’s ability to produce perfect tubes at any size-from 6 foot to absolutely gargantuan. Unidentified, on a wild, over-sized ride.
Alex Gray, pig-dogging with all his might.
Kelly Slater officially dropped out of the Corona Bali Protected just a couple days ago. This photo might explain why.
Ramon Navarro, slotted inside a barrel so big it almost looks fake.
Ryan Hipwood, in one of the worst situations he could possible find himself in.
A crew on the shoulder watches a lucky surfer nab one of the best waves of his life, no doubt.
Shakas and beer all around for some truly electric performances.