Thinking of Jon -- 2/18/05

Body in the lineup; mind on Mozo

Date: February 18, 2005
Time: 0800-1030; 1130-1230
Spot(s): Shot at Pipeline; bodyboarded OTW
Conditions: Overcast, slight onshore
Swell: northwest
Surf: 3-5' Haw'n

Words: Had the day off so I went to the North Shore to check out the Monster Energy Pipeline Pro. Hoped to jump in and bodyboard before the contest, but found that they were starting a bit early. So I gathered my photo gear and went to the beach marshall area for permission to take some pictures.

Last year, I was required to wear a helmet while shooting the event. Same thing this year, however, they had none to hand out. I was a bit flustered, because (1) there was a chance I couldn't go out (I don't own a helmet) and (2) I was thinking about Jon Mozo.

Just nine days prior, Mozo was killed while shooting in the water at Pipeline/Backdoor. The surf photography world was just blown away at the loss of such an accomplished and respected waterman. I did not know him personally, but knew of his work, many times marveling at his images at Pictures Plus stores. I felt sorrow for his friends and family, and at the same time, it put the dangers of water surf photography into lucid clarity.

On top of that, just two days prior, professional surfer Greg Long was "bumped" by a tiger shark out at Rocky Point (a few hundred yards from Pipe). There definitely was a ominous tone in the air.

The beach marshals eventually allowed me to go out after I signed my life away with a waiver. I was out there.

Conditions were far from perfect, with a dying, slightly choppy swell under extremely overcast skies. Didn't matter--I wanted to get wet and be a part of the action. The competitors were making the most of it, pulling into many unmakeable tubes, but trying nonetheless.

The pictures tell the best story of how it went. I first shot off 37 shots with my Nikonos (the bottom eight pics), then played around with the digital DSC-U60. After more than two hours, I went into the sponsor's area to talk story with the crew.

Afterwards, I still felt the need to partake in some action myself, so I got my bodyboard and headed out to OTW. It was pretty testy for me, with tough whitewater to crack, but I caught a few in the crowd.

Didn't last long though. After my fifth wave, I found myself on the inside between OTW and Backdoor as a set approached. Got worked really, really hard, with my thighs seizing (cramps) as the sets pounded me. I had to just grasp my board and let the waves push me in, to my embarrassment right in front of the contest area. Getting old and don't have the endurance I once had.

Passing by the small memorial for Jon Mozo, I was reminded that it was a privilege for me to surf and to take pictures, and that life should be cherished, but yet still be lived. That was Jon's outlook on life and that is how we all should live.


Aloha from Paradise,