At its most interesting, big wave surfing has always been brutally simple: a person with a large surfboard tries to catch and ride an even larger wave. It is a nearly perfect distillation of (wo)man vs. nature, which happily lacks any of the pseudo-patriotic baggage and soppy #YOLO niceties that have beset much of the rest of the modern extreme sport rank and file.
But this simplicity is deceptive given that our current golden age of big wave, paddle-in surfing is firmly routed in the technology, and transportation advancements of the late 20th and early 21st centuries. Modern forecasting, communications and travel technologies have made it possible to identify almost any swell in the world and reach it within 24 to 36 hours. It is bizarre, when you really think about it, that men and women who willingly hurl themselves into a stormy sea with very little but a large sliver of foam and fiberglass and maybe a small life vest, are also completely reliant on sophisticated forecasting technology, communication systems that relay messages around the globe in milliseconds, and giant flying machines that transport hundreds of people at a time across whole continents. We are also more aware of their exploits than we have ever been due to the proliferation of multimedia systems that allow us to witness their feats, often in real-time.