Forgotten in an I nstant
Surely our best days deser ve more than just a postage stamp.
No longer is anywhere on the planet safe from the envy-inducing reach of Instagram. I recently went on a trip where I was convinced my phone would be obsolete. The location was an isolated stretch of coast, deep in the subcontinent. I was looking forward to being completely free from the clog of emails, the relentless banter of Whatsapp groups and the F.O.M.O (Fear of missing out) spew of Instagram. The digital detox hit a serious curve ball when we arrived at our location. Apparently you could by a cheap SIM card that worked just dandy while you were drifting through a region where you’d hoped smoke signals and conch shells were the only viable means of communication. Determined to honour my vow of Vodafone abstinence, I held out and didn’t drop the cash for an iPhone engine change. Unfortunately the friend I was travelling with didn’t share my interest in stoic restraint and happily racked up the megabytes like a kid with a big candy store budget. A few days into the trip I was tuned into the subtle impact of tidal fluctuations on the surf, the joys of casual conversation with new people, and the simple pleasure of letting your eyes roam around a different landscape, instead of staring down at your phone. Then my mate started tapping me on the shoulder and saying ‘check this out, it’s pumping at home”… At first I dismissed him with a monastic zeal. However, eventually the “ohhs”, the “you’re kiddings” and the “no ways” started to spike my curiosity. It didn’t help that at this particular point the waves out front had turned to small, onshore slop. Eventually I cracked. “Give me a look at that!” I snarled with equal parts self-loathing and excitement as I snatched the phone from his hand. And there it was, an endless scroll of postage stamp dedications to an east coast swell – unfathomably round barrels, dreamy lineup shots and mini-clips of daring assaults on giant waves. I’d paid a princely sum to come half way around the world, only to discover that what I was looking for was back on my doorstep. “Damn you Instagram!” In that moment I genuinely understood the essence of the phrase ‘Ignorance is bliss’! Back in the Tracks office a week later the inbox was jammed with some of the stellar photos that hadn’t been released straight to Instagram like a flock of birds escaping an opened cage. At first I didn’t want to look; I was terrified the process would reignite that sense of F.O.M.O I’d just gotten over. However, when I finally opened up the files and let them fill the full length and breadth of my desktop screen, the process seemed much less anxiety inducing than I’d expected. Perhaps time had healed the wound or rather was it that the photos, when viewed in all their glory, were simply timeless. As I perused the images it certainly seemed clear that the unique swell event deserved more than just a cameo appearance between “look at me” Insta posts by the Coffey sisters. As you might expect, after gazing at Taj’s sheer-faced, blue-roar on the cover, the July east coast swell is a major feature of this issue. We all take it for granted that the ocean will keep tossing up waves for an eternity, but in the course of your own lifetime you have to acknowledge that some swells are more special than others. As veteran surf photographer Peter Boskovic put it matter-of-factly, “This swell definitely produced more perfect shaped waves than a lot of previous ones I have seen.” That’s from a highly respected lensman who has spent over three decades sizing up waves around the world. Whether you were part of the headlong rush into the ocean as hypnotic waves bent and chucked along the east coast or you missed out like me, we hope you enjoy our tribute to the late July, 2017 swell. We think such reflections upon the defining events of our living surfing history are important – otherwise they’d be forgotten in an Instant.