It's a tale of two worlds, and it all depends on your personal perspective. To some, Cyclone Winston conjured up thunderous power, devastating force and unfathomable destruction. To others, it was a tale of untold perfection, fluid lines and heart palpitating adrenaline.
A point of significant importance is that Cyclone Winston left a trail of destruction through Fiji, being the largest recorded tropical cyclone to ever make landfall over the Pacific Island nation. Fiji is no stranger to incredible surf, the consequence of distant storm cells sending long period swell racing towards the reefs there. The perfection we enjoyed here came at a price.
Swell on the Gold Coast is always a contradiction to the ethos of surfing. The lines are long and perfect. The barrels are cylindrical and draining. The light is golden and the water blue. But untimely consequences are always prevalent. Fibreglass misses foreheads by centimetres. Glass fins driven recklessly by lesser skilled pilots miss backs by...well in the case of one world class pro, they didn't miss, but left two tell tale lines through her wetsuit...a fortunate outcome. And egos are left bruised, as competent surfers struggle to find space amongst the herd of hundreds upon hundreds of wave starved carnivores.
Saturday the 27th was meant to be 'The Day'. What that encapsulates though varies depending on who you are talking to. I stood upon Kirra Hill early, alongside legendary photographers Ted Grambeau and Swilly, with faces bemused by the early disappearance of the maxing swell the night before. Some talk of the mass exodus to DI to 'escape' the crowds, only to have found that the news bulletin had been read by everyone and it had been read a little too early. Others, like Darryl Parkinson, surfed perfect barrel after barrel through bottomless Greenmount, as the local boys enjoyed another timeless swell that will be recounted fondly in years to come.
I created a short series of photographs shot over the afternoon of Friday the 26th on my perspective of Winston. The liberty I enjoy taking as an artist is creating what I feel as much as what I see. Winston didn't feel like total perfection to me. Taking a lineup photo of endless perfect waves would be unjust towards my sentiments, even though a perfect lineup is a popular photo. The perfect lineup does not do justice to the suffering of the homeless and deceased in Fiji. The perfect lineup doesn't do justice to the broken bones of the hospitalised maverick, suffered at the hands of a drop in. The perfect lineup also doesn't do justice to the opiate like faces of those exiting thunderous rounded cylinders. All of these incidents came to pass during Winston and many have been recorded as individual occurrences. Winston showed the extremities of human emotion. My Winston collection shows golden joy to dark.
There was perfection on offer. But you had to pay to play...