Photographer Sash Fitzsimmons claims he risked his life to take this incredible image. And physicist and oceanographer Dr Helen Czerski agrees that it’s a dangerous business.
“The energy of a barrel wave like this one ultimately comes from the wind pushing the ocean surface into ripples and then up into bigger and bigger waves,” she says. “As the water gets shallower, that energy is concentrated and the waves steepen until they break in these beautiful long barrels. One cubic metre of water weighs a tonne, so the rapid movement of this much water represents a huge amount of kinetic energy. Both the surfer and the photographers need superb judgment – and a bit of luck – to stay safe.”
To take the picture, Fitzsimmons used a GoPro camera with a fisheye lens. It was fitted with a dome to push water away from the camera, allowing him to capture the action above and below the surface.