Sherm Moments: The Boy and the Beast

A young Benji Weatherly follows a legend into heavy waters. Photo Sherm

Sherm Moments

This is Benji Weatherly at Pipe. I believe this was shot in November of '91. And this is the Momentum days when Benji had his house there — The Pipe House — at the time. Anyway, I was on assignment from Rusty to shoot a catalog and Benji was probably 16 years old. And that's, like, 3rd reef Pipeline breaking there in the background. Really pretty radical. And Benji's just 16, getting ready to run out and it's the afternoon and really chunky, right? And I looked at him was like, "Wow, you're really gonna go out there, huh?" And there was this guy next to him, this, local Hawaiian dude. And Benji was all, "That guy's my hero; I gotta follow him!" And so Benji charges out there after the Hawaiian guy — it was Mike Akima — and God it was big. Definitely 2nd reefing, capping on third. And he ended up catching a couple bombs! And so this was almost gonna be on the cover of Surfer, and like, within a day, it was mocked up and at the last second, it got pulled. Because it was a black and white, and they didn't do black and white covers. So this is my cover that never was. This is one of my most favorite, iconic surf shots. At the time I was really into this guy Matt Mahurin's work, an artist who did a lot of black and whites with really surreal edges. So I started experimenting with a lot of stuff on my own with the lenses and a filter to get that feeling. And I think with this one I really nailed it and it's my ode to him.