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The Underside of Water

Ryan Borne


Behind the Shot

If you’ve ever ridden the Jungle Cruise at Disneyland or Disney World, you’ve surely heard the joke about “the eighth wonder of the world, the backside of water.” Well, folks, here is the bottom side of a breaking wave. This wave, though, is the world-famous Teahupo’o wave, listed by Transworld Surf as one the Top 10 Deadliest Waves in the world. After about 15 minutes of intense paddling, surfers wait 1,500 feet offshore in the lineup for their chance to ride the heavy and powerful waves. Reaching heights of up to 50 feet, the waves break directly onto the razor-sharp reef. Oh—and there are also tiger sharks in the water.

Instead of surfing the waves, though, Ryan was determined to photograph them in a unique and risky way. “Waves are some of my favorite subjects to shoot. You're really connected to the elements as you're deeply immersed in this unpredictable ballet. It forces me to stay focused and live in the present moment. But each wave is unique, and whether you’re shooting big barrels or small shore break, you should never take it for granted.”