Surfing at Pipeline, North Shore, Oahu, Hawaii

Photograph by Matt Kurvin

"This wave was the best ride of my life so far," says Tiago Gil, seen here at sunset on Pipeline on Oahu's North Shore. "I remember paddling into it—I was frightened. I got to the bottom of the wave and looked up and saw the meanest wall of water I've ever seen. Being inside the barrel was so loud, then it turned quiet. It gets so peaceful a split second before it turns into a life-or-death situation." The Sunset Beach, Hawaii-based surfer is a true adventurer who rides waves for the love of it, not for sponsors. "Then I popped up and had never been happier."

Getting the Shot

“It is always rewarding to get a good shot of one of the underground guys," says photographer Matt Kurvin, a regular photographer at Pipeline, where he came to know Gil. "It's not their job, they just do it for the love of it, and it shows in their determination out there. No sponsors, no paycheck from the industry, he just does whatever he needs to do to get by, just to surf this wave.”

After packing up at the end of the day, Kurvin saw this set of waves breaking. “I made a mad dash to get the camera out and lens cap off just in time to capture this. I stayed low to frame the beach, water, and sky," says Kurvin. "I love Pipeline in the evening; the green glow of the lip and yellow sky tends to make the photograph look almost three-dimensional.”

Kurvin photographed with a Canon 5D Mark II and a 100-400mm lens.