Rusty Long draws "The Finest Line" of big wave surfing

May 7, 2015 | Surfing
The Finest Line: Mikey Brennan salutes Shipstern Bluff | Photo: Stu Gibson

History will thank Rusty Long for writing "The Finest Line: The Global Pursuit of Big-Wave Surfing." If you're really passionate about surfing, then this coffee-table book will mark you forever.

Photography is part of the thrill. Big wave surfers have always had their personal lenses in the water. Some of these watermen are lucky enough to have multiple photographers and videographers capturing their career-defining moments. If you truly believe in the power of surf photography, then this book is for you.

But these men and women need to do exceptionally good on the death-defying arena in order to be part of the elite. The most dangerous big wave surf spots in the planet - Mavericks, Jaws, Cloudbreak, Teahupoo, Puerto Escondido, Dungeons, Nazaré, Belharra, Shipstern Bluff and Mullaghmore Head, for example - will eat you alive if dare to fail.

 "The Finest Line" reminds us of our fears and limits. There might be only four handfuls of lunatics risking their lives when the waves rise above 75 feet. And even world champion thinks twice before committing to the ultimate drop.

"I had no idea what I was getting into. All I knew was that the waves looked like the images of Hawaii in the book I kept at my bedside, 'A Pictorial History of Surfing'," writes Tom Carroll in the book's foreword.

"I had fantasized about riding those waves, and it was that visual world that catapulted me into taking the necessary risks to pro myself at something I loved most."

The Finest Line: an unexplored Irish reef goes off without any takers | Photo: Rusty Long

Big wave surfing has evolved a lot in the 21st century. Big wave professionals have mobile phones, real-time weather charts, inflatable life vests, waterproof walkie talkies, and flexible flight schedules.

However, the challenge has remained untouched. If we reflect for a second, we understand that waves are immortal. You can't beat waves. So, how do you constantly survive these giant walls of nature?

"High risks yields high reward, and once you are accustomed to this elevated sensation of life it is hard to look back. It gets in the blood. It becomes a lifestyle, a devout discipline," notes Rusty Long.

"Big wave surfers are constantly reminded how small they are when out of nowhere a rogue wave leaps up one hundred feet further out than normal and lands with dismembering magnitude, or when a wipeout breaks or dislocates something in the body, or when somebody dies."

After reading "The Finest Line," your attitude towards big wave surfers will not be the same. The well-balanced book formula provides 250 breathtaking photos that "talk" with the articles, guides and interviews carefully curated by Rusty Long. In the end, you're invited to ask: what's next?

"For more than a decade, during nearly every significant swell that Mother Nature has thrown our way, there were those who believed they could ride the impossible, and they did. I am certain this will continue to be the standard for years to come," concludes Greg Long.

See? The bar will always be raised, and "The Finest Line: The Global Pursuit of Big-Wave Surfing" is the ultimate answer to your dreams and nightmares. Are you willing to take the risk?

The Finest Line: Koa Rothman: explores Teahupoo's inner secrets | Photo: Fred Pompermayer

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