The 6 Heaviest Waves I’ve Ever Shot

Posted June 28, 2017

Note: These photos and each of their awesome stories have been shared with us by the talented Russell Ord. Check out his new film, One Shot on Vimeo. We think it’s pretty rad.

Photo: Gordon Becker

A Sticky Situation

Now, this isn’t a photo I shot myself, which is the case for the rest of these. But that flipper you see is me swimming for the bottom because let’s face it I am out of position by a long way, not quite as bad as it looks because unlike when you’re surfing I had a few moments to prepare for “what’s next.” It’s the type of situation when preparation is the key to keeping calm and being aware of this little predicament.

A Rogue Wave at Mavericks 

Photo: Russell Ord

 That 12-foot long green board in the lip belongs to Jacob Trette, a position which nearly ended up costing his life. The second wave was just as big and believe me they were truly rogue waves, double the size of anything that came in that day. It went from a potential learner’s day in Mavericks terms to “shit you better know what you’re doing out there.” Jacob used his lucky card that day; lucky I was on a prohibited ski and decided to check around the rocks, lucky the kayak paddler pointed out his floating body, lucky people on the cliffs called the paramedics, lucky I knew CPR, and lucky he was close to one of the world’s best hospitals. Crazy wave, that one.  
Kerby Brown at Reds

Photo: Russell Ord

If Kerby Brown was a cat, he would be on his third helping of those nine lives. He is a true nut case and just loves waves like these. Yes, that’s him in the lip if you follow the legrope. Reds is one wave I have purposely avoided shooting wide angle at, it breaks on razor sharp reef, and is always shallow. No thanks.

Big Brother, Justin Allport

Photo: Russell Ord

I wish I had shot this wave better. I could have done a better job of showing the situation Jughead is in here, so I’ll just point out some facts that illustrate what the photo doesn’t. First ever wave, 25km out to sea, 4-5 hours to help, a dry reef (out of the water) 20 yards in front of him, no safety gear (bad planning), and to state the obvious, the left looks better.

Cale Grigson at Bungalows

Photo: Russell Ord

Cale Grigson is an incredible surfer, making this wave with ease. The only problem for me was a split second after I took this shot I was standing ankle deep on the reef, going over the falls with no water to cushion the blow. On a surf photographer’s salary it was a must to protect the equipment so my back took the brunt of the impact, resulting in numerous cuts and abrasions followed by a bout of reef poisoning and a week in the hospital on a drip fighting infections. Worth the shot?

Brett Burcher, The Right, WA

Photo: Russell Ord

That little body in there with no head belongs to Brett Burcher. I vividly remember this moment because I was in the perfect position for a fisheye shot at the Right. Finally, the shot I have been chasing for a number of years is at the end of my trigger finger. Then I see Brett hit the smallest of bumps, the fins let go and Brett was body surfing down a twenty-foot wave. Even Mark Cunningham would have been impressed up to the point of Burcher becoming one with the lip.

(c) towsurfer 2017