Sometimes you can’t see the forest for the trees. Or maybe you are looking so closely at the brushstrokes you can’t see the painting. Or alternatively, maybe when you look at Kai Lenny riding a giant Nazare wave, you can’t see the fort. 
 
Or to save both myself and you the reader, maybe it’s better if a picture tells a 1000 words. And with the latest striking image by French photographer Alex Laurel of Kai Lenny’s Biggest Wave Award Winner, it offers a new perspective to see what it takes to ride a 70-foot wave at Nazare. 
 
 
Now we’ve seen this wave plenty of times before. Ridden in the Nazare Tow Challenge it was broadcast live. Then as an entry in the Big Wave Awards, and subsequent XXL winner, it has been played on repeat for five months. 
 
 
 
 
 
 
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Congratulations @kai_lenny, winner of the @cbdmd.usa XXL Biggest Wave! 🏆 Watch the full interview with Kai, link in bio. @redbull_surfing

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I was even lucky enough to watch it in person. My own eyeballs relayed the optics to my brain which interpreted the visuals as, “That’s a fucking big wave.” Insightful, as always, my gin soaked synapses.  
 
And having seen it hundred times since that opinion hadn't changed. Yet it took Laurent’s perspective to add depth, weight and scope to the biggest wave ridden in the last 12 months. The tiny people on the toy fort, Lenny’s four finned track trailing into the barrel, the 50 foot high rocks at the base of the cliff diminished to small chunks of rubble; it all makes for something truly epic. 
 
In this it harks back to the now iconic Sean Davey image of Laird’s Millenium Wave, recently celebrating its 20 year anniversary. Davey had been stuck on shore that morning courtesy of a blocked fuel filter on the boat. With his biggest 300 mm lens trained on the wave, the sights of the arms raised in the boat triggered the alarm. 
 
 
 
 
 
 
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The wave heard around the world. Year was 2000 and I was in Tahiti on a Rip Curl trip. Manoa Drollet informed us that our boat would remain docked because we had a fouled fuel filter. We had no idea of what was going on out at Teahupoo, but could see that something was happening out there. I put on my 300mm lens and just sat watching . Next thing you know, this wave rolls in and all the people in the boat are just going crazy over it. I still did not see the surfer at all, but did have a feeling that I might have captured something important anyway. This was the wave that Laird caught. The wave is so far below sea level, that the bottom of the wave might be somewhere akin to the bit of foam below the wave in this picture. Because there was only one or teo boats out there, the wave was absolutely perfect for it’s size. That doesn’t happen nowadays because there are always so many boats out there that there is a lot of refraction through-out the lineup from all the boat wakes. Up until this moment, it was considered impossible to surf Teahupoo at this size, Even tow surfing was considered to not doable. They’ve come along way since this moment. I recall one of the guys at Surfer magazine, back then telling me that this was the most clicked on picture on their website ever, at the time. No doubt, something crazier has beaten that record since. Click the link on my bio to see more epic surf images from over the years...

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He pressed the button, yet with Laird out of sight below sea level, had no idea what he had shot. Turns out, after a waiting a few weeks to process the film, he had taken a picture of Laird’s Millennium wave. The pulled back perspective further added more weight to the shots and videos taken from the channel. 
 
In time Laurel’s image may too become iconic. It captures a memorable moment in surfing history, in such a way to tell the whole story.