“It was unusual that so many big-wave surfers showed up for this swell. It's always a gamble relying on weather reports,” says Servais, who was already in Fiji to cover the contest and surf. “It was one of the biggest swells ever," he recalls. "A few waves at the end of the day were considered some of the biggest waves ever at Cloudbreak.”
Cloudbreak is located two miles off Tavarua and is the best and closest spot to access the wave. “The hardest part about shooting Cloudbreak is getting there,” says Servais. The trip included an 11-hour flight from Los Angeles, a taxi to the beach, and a boat ride to the wave break.
Servais watched the swell grow all day and captured surfer McIntosh courageously surfing the explosive waves. “It was exciting watching the swell get bigger and bigger all day,” recalls Servais, who captured the action from a boat.
Servais photographed with two Canon bodies, a 300mm f/2.8 lens and 70-200mm f/2.8 lens, all kept safe in a Pelican hard case.
Cloudbreak is almost a perfect left, but it can get sectiony. There are three main sections: the point (also called “the top”), the middle, and the inside (also called “Shish Kabobs”). The inside looks like the safest bet to most newcomers, but the boat drivers will tell you otherwise. The point and the middle are actually more rippable, and the inside is not called “Shish Kabobs” for nothing: the reef gets really shallow there, and it is very sharp.
Cloudbreak is a difficult wave to surf, but it can guarantee you some serious tube time. Lastly, if you aren’t very familiar with Cloudbreak, you may wonder why it is included as a big wave surf spot. During huge south swells, Cloudbreak holds up very well, producing massive surf and many times restricting surfers to tow-in surfing only.
Tavarua is a heart shaped island resort in Fiji. It has an area of 29 acres. The island is close to the main Fijian island, Viti Levu, and is surrounded by a coral reef.
Fiji, officially the Republic of Fiji, is an island nation in Melanesia in the South Pacific Ocean about 1,100 nautical miles northeast of New Zealand's North Island.
Currency: Fijian dollar
National anthem: God Bless Fiji
Population: 868,406 (2011) World Bank
Official language: English Language, Fijian Language, Fiji Hindi
Government: Military dictatorship, Military junta, Republic, Parliamentary republic
Source: National Geographic, TheBigWaveBlog.com