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When a low-pressure system parks itself off the east coast it spins everyone into a frenzy. The recent July swell was no different and Piha photographer, CPL, fresh up for air after a deadline, wasted no time. He picks up the story …

“Yes!”

That was the emphatic reply I received from Backdoor’s marketing guru, Darren Celliers, as the isobars slotted into position off the east coast. He’d been watching it too – most surfers had it on their radar.

“Yes, let’s go storm chasing with the Backdoor team,” he adds.

Daniel Farr dropping into a bomb. Photo: CPL

That’s the tipping point for the pre-session, overexcited froth. Yep, meet there! Yep, meet then. Wait, can we make it earlier? And maybe even stay longer? The froth levels were super high. Darren had assembled the A-team and the low spooling off the East Coast of the North Island looked very, very good.

Surfers Taylor Hutchinson, Darren Celliers, Paul Moretti, Billy Stairmand, Caleb Cutmore, Jay Piper-Healion, Daniel Davie, Daniel Farr and Matt Hewitt were all suddenly zeroing in on our East Coast target.

 

What we hadn’t really accounted for in our pre-planning was the weather. It often accompanies these types of swell events. As it turned out we had over-frothed.

Rain at dawn. Photo: CPL

The low-pressure system was behaving itself and doing exactly what the weather gurus had predicted it would. We, conversely, had expected faster movement. So, we were a day too early, which arguably is far better than the usual, day late, dregs of the swell scenario that these swell events are so good at creating.

Heavy set wave. Photo: CPL

When you’ve been on enough surf missions there’s a mode you learn to adopt: slow down, contain the froth and energy. Micro manage, fill the hours while you wait with meaningless tasks. Want lunch? Find a warm cafe with wifi and make it last two hours. Need to catch up on your texts? Write essays to your absent friends.

Matt Hewitt escaping the rain. Photo: CPL

The wind finally swung – the rain did not back off.

Half the Backdoor team could only stay the day, so job on. We pounced. We were led to a perfect option thanks to Daniel Davie. Credit where credit’s due, Dan made a great call. The waves were thick and rifling.

Daniel Davie drawing off the bottom in the rain. Photo: CPL

It wasn’t pretty, but the job got done. Taylor, Matt and Darren couldn’t stay. One could ague they had a misdirected work ethic. The rest of the team opted to stay in a flurry of pleading texts sent to partners and bosses. The rain persisted through the night. Was it going to be a wash out? We all had that question on our minds.

Billy Stairmand in his happy place. Photo: CPL

The next morning was another early start, but luxurious compared to the 4am alarm of the day before. Billy, the newly assigned trip captain and prime frother was on the texts at 6.30am.

“It’s pumping boys, there’s some big nuggets out there, get here now,” he inspired.

Paul Moretti nice and deep. Photo: CPL

When the captain says jump, it is just a matter of how high and fast. Billy made a great call. We stayed at the beach all day, there was no reason or thought to go elsewhere. An epic session chasing an East Coast swell with all the right ingredients in the end.

So many of these. Photo: CPL

Thanks has to go to Darren and Hutch from Backdoor Surf for pressing the go button on this team trip. For more images check out Backdoor’s social media, Sharp Eyes NZ, Channel Islands NZ and all the lad’s Instagram accounts. Brodie Jackovich was on hand videoing – the rough edit is rad, it’s gonna be a sick clip when it drops. We’ll keep you posted right here.

More: Storm Chasing Slideshow

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