Tracks - - Rapture -

A rib­bon of gold, curled just so by the reef at HT’s to make it look like a gift-wrapped present from some divine be­ing to surfers. There are other sub­tler el­e­ments that con­trib­ute to the magic of this Indo mo­ment – the halo of spray ca­ress­ing the lip, the hint of elec­tric green in the tube; the dra­matic, gi­ant cot­ton balls of cu­mu­lus cloud in the back­ground and the light rip­ples on the oily sur­face.

Not a sin­gle surfer is rid­ing the gold-brushed coil so the photo be­comes more uni­ver­sal – much eas­ier to imagine that it could be you on that wave. How­ever, the pres­ence of a few surfers in the lineup adds the nec­es­sary hu­man el­e­ment – re­as­sures you that it’s not just an il­lu­sion, it’s some­thing very real, it’s HT’s or Lance’s Rights or if you like the most per­fect wave in the world.

Surf­ing mag­a­zine ran it on the cover and went so far as to sug­gest it was, “Quite Pos­si­bly the Sin­gle Great­est Surf­ing Im­age of All Time.”

Pete Frieden, who was still shoot­ing on film at the time, can’t re­mem­ber if it was 2004 or 2005, but he can vividly re­call what was hap­pen­ing when the im­age was taken.

“This golden mo­ment at HT's was first light in the morn­ing. It wasn't planned at all, we just hap­pened to get there be­fore the sun came up on our char­ter boat. I had an all-star Hawai­ian crew, but they were all sleep­ing or eat­ing break­fast. I shot this from the main boat, eat­ing break­fast as well. The peo­ple that are out there are from the land camps.”

If they weren’t al­ready sold on the Mentawai, any­one who saw the im­age in­stantly fell un­der the re­gion’s spell.

As for Frieden and what the serendip­i­tous shot did for his ca­reer? “It has been my most fa­mous shot for sure and I’ve been sell­ing it in many ways since.”

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