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Big-Wave Chasers

Eye on SC
Big-Wave Chasers

January 03, 2008 Print

Vol. 3, Issue 1, January 3-9, 2008

By Jason Murray

Local surf photographer captures life on the road with brothers Rusty and Greg Long, two of big-wave surfing’s youngest powerhouses


Some men chase the almighty dollar. Others chase their dreams. And still others chase big waves, watching forecasts for swell that might build into walls of water twice as tall as any building in San Clemente.

San Clemente’s Jason Murray is one of those men. Technically he’s a surf photographer—once the photo editor of nearby Surfer magazine, now a freelancer—who rides a ski to document the epic rides. But in reality, he’s a driver, the search-and-rescue squad when things go awry—as they do all too often—and, for a trip in December, he was the team historian, documenting details of the 1,400-mile, three-day journey from San Clemente to the big-wave surf spots Ghost Trees in Northern California, Todos Santos in Baja California and back home.

On this particular trip in December he’s chasing big waves with San Clemente brothers Rusty Long, 25, and Greg Long, 24—and runs into numerous characters of the big-wave scene including Hawaiian Mark Healy, local Mike Parsons, aka Snips, and Surfing magazine editor Evan Slater. Rusty and Greg, who graduated from San Clemente High School in 1999 and 2001, respectively, are regarded by the surf industry as two of the best young big-wave surfers today. And according to Greg, surfing big waves—either by towing in with the help of a ski or paddling in without assistance—has been their “full-on mission” for about four years.

The latest mission is a “go” on December 1, when 48-hour swell forecasting models show massive waves up and down the West Coast. Two days later, Murray loads up a van and trailer and makes a lonely drive on north Interstate 5. He’ll pick up Greg, Mark Healy and other big-wave surfers in Oakland, then head to Half Moon Bay for a few hours’ sleep before hopefully hitting the water at Mavericks on December 4. What follows is a photo essay of what could be called history in the making.

—Jonathan Volzke and Rebecca Nordquist

Published Friday, January 4, 2008 10:40 AM by Zinnia Q.

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