Photograph by Chris Burkard, Red Bull Illume
Which photo is your favorite from this year's collection of Red Bull Illume adventure photo contest winners? Here's one of ours from the "Illumination" category. Click through to see the photo gallery >>
About the Shot
It was a last-minute decision to go to Chile. We sat in the pouring rain for days and days waiting for the swell to come. We thought we had planned it perfectly, but you can still get a winter storm in the fall.
We woke up the morning after the rains to howling offshore winds. The swell was pulsing and the conditions were as good as they get. We drove to a spot in the afternoon that the locals had said, “rarely breaks.” When we pulled up it was reeling left barrels for almost a football field’s length. We scrambled to get out and surf. i was sunburnt and tired and had no idea how to document this moment. The waves were some of the most I had ever seen, so I decided to risk it. I sprinted down the beach and hiked up a sand dune to get a pulled back perspective.
The shore break was so big, and the offshores’ plumes so high, that I was missing most of the best waves, but finally a set came through. The light, the wind, and the swell were perfect. It was as if everything in nature fell into perfect harmony for this single moment. As Peter Mendia eased into this wave, the backwash hit, sending a golden shower of water ten feet above his head, and sending him down the line of another 20-second barrel. —Photographer Chris Burkard