“Frozen with fear” are probably not the words that come to mind when thinking of Andy Irons’ reckless abandon approach to waves of consequence. Especially when it comes to his legendary performances at Teahupo’o, and how his mastering of the thick-lipped Tahitian monster caused surfers to re-evaluate what was possible on the wave.

But yes, according to photographer Tom Servais, Andy said he made the free-falling drop into Chopes’ square blue pit, “Frozen with fear.” Luckily Andy had a little help from his brother Bruce, who provided some vulgar encouragement to, “Go! Go! Go!” and from the powerful foamball that Andy said pushed him out with the spit. Also, the fact that Andy was too scared to move caused him to hold his line through the chaos rather than bail.

Fortunately for Servais, photographer politics played in his favor by placing him in a boat that allowed him to shoot Andy’s wave at an angle no other photog could get. Servais’ angle also captured Shane Dorian photobombing the shot in the face of the wave.

Watch the video of Andy’s Teahupo’o bomb, and listen to him break down the wave in his own words, below.

For more episodes of “Behind the Photo,” click here.