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The Inertia

Last week winter big wave spots from Jaws to Maverick’s absolutely lit up. And there’s more swell in the water all around.

Acclaimed photographer Ryan “Chachi” Craig was on Maui to document the madness last week when he came up with the wild idea to paddle out to the channel to get some shots from the water. What transpired was Chachi attempting to paddle out on a Wavestorm with flippers on his feet and a backpack full of camera gear.

“The intention was to shoot from the channel,” said Chachi in an email. “Jaws is beyond a zoo so coordinating a boat or ski was a little tricky last minute and I honestly thought that I would be able to time it with such long interval swell; it was definitely not a dare of any form.”

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Four waves in, Chachi realized the whole thing was a terrible idea. Unfortunately for him, someone filmed his admittedly-not-so-elegant exit, which ultimately landed on Kook of the Day’s Instagram with the caption, “Yea, Jaws is a good spot to start!” The video’s accumulated over 370 thousand views and over 900 comments, all of which amount to the same message: “What was he thinking?!”

Without context, few realized who the subject of the video was and that in fact, Chachi is one of the best surf photographers in the game.

When we reached out for additional insight, this is what Chachi told us:

“To walk you through the Kook of the Day video, I had already taken 4 waves on the head and was getting pretty tired. I was wearing fins so where the video starts, I’m trying to come in and ride the back of the wave on the back of the board, into the shorey. If I was to ‘actually’ try and catch the wave, I would go face first into the boulders so i’m not trying to actually catch that wave but just get carried closer to shore. My soft top was only 7’10” and super light so it gets blown backwards from the wind and all my weight was on the tail. Earlier, my leash had gone over one shoulder and through my legs so I’m trying to undo my leash while simultaneously treading water and getting sucked into the west end of the cove where it’s SUPER gnarly; I was definitely stressing. You can barely hear it in the video, but because I started to drift out a little all the boys on the cliff (Ola and Makana Elogram, Albee, Dorian, Billy Kemper, Meola, Torrey Meister etc., etc.) start yelling GO GO GO because it looks like I had a little break in the set. I turn back around and paddle like three times before I realize I’m about to get the biggest wave yet, right on the head. All I was thinking was I can’t lose this board so you see more fastening my grip on the leash plug at the tail for the last two waves.

“Thankfully and certainly surprisingly to everyone that assumes I had a death-wish, I didn’t have a scratch on me, not even my feet. Camera gear was fine and I only ended up with a bruised ego and a severely humbling experience from Mother Nature. I was very very aware of what was going on but I’d be a liar to say that it wasn’t a fairly nerve-wracking experience; my adrenaline was flying for hours after I was safe on the beach.

“All the tourists on the rocks were baffled, they couldn’t understand why the hell I had a soft top or a backpack or fins etc., etc. I wish I could find the people that were shooting it, I had the biggest grin on my face, happy be on land (sic), all the while getting scolded by inlanders who’ve pretty much never been to the ocean. I walked across the river and over to where the Maui boys were hanging and everyone was losing it. Now that they knew I was ok, all the boys were laughing and throwing high-fives, claiming that was the best show they’d seen all day! I cracked a beer, thanked my lucky stars and just watched for the remainder of the night.”

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