Herbie Fletcher, 1976. Maalaea, Maui.“Maalaea is one of those perfect waves that breaks just like freight train. It’s also one of the hardest waves to make because it breaks so fast. It starts up on one end at the boat jetty and runs all along that reef. It’s just a super, super, fast wave.
We knew there was going to be a south swell, and Maalaea is one of those places that is really hard to get. Historically, there are only a few photographers who have gotten when it was good – guys like Severson and Wilkins. It’s just one of those mysto-spots.
Herbie knew that it was going to get big enough and that we should make a run for it. So we both jumped on the plane the day before the swell was supposed to hit. This was all before surf forecasting was even happening. When we got there, it was on!
For equipment, I was out there on an air mattress as it was a good paddle and a lot of current. I was using a Nikon with an 85mm lens. Back then, an 85mm was a standard for “in-your-face,” down-the-line water shots before we started going really wide. Back then, we actually had to focus and look through the camera.
On this particular shot, Herbie was riding a down-the-line kind of board with a gun-feel. It had a squared off nose and was part of his “The Thrill is Back” campaign that he was trying to promote.
Herbie paddled and took off. He went straight to the nose and just powered it. The session only lasted for a few hours that day. The next day it was gone.”
Funny note: “Because it was the ‘70s with the whole Jimi Hendrix-thing (and it was Maui), a lot of people thought there was a spaceship or flying saucer in the background. It was a roof of a building.”
The Talk Story Series is about speaking with the creators of surfing’s most iconic images and letting them tell us in their own words, the story behind their image. To read Art Brewer’s interview with Liquid Salt click here. To learn more about Art and his work, click here.