For­got­ten in an I nstant

Surely our best days deser ve more than just a postage stamp.

Tracks - - News - By Luke Kennedy

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.

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