Extreme Exposure: Makua Rothman's big wave year, sailing's spies, more
Welcome to Extreme Exposure, a weekly column bringing you the best photography and news from the world of action and outdoor sports. We’ve got plenty to talk about this week including surfers who sing, fisherman who shoot photos and sailors who spy—enjoy.
The Long Year
Many have called the Volvo Ocean Race the "Everest of Sailing." At the very least, it’s one of the toughest endurance events in the world. Seven teams started in Alicante, Spain in early October—one was shipwrecked in the Indian Ocean—and last weekend, the fleet pulled in to Newport, Rhode Island for the lone American stopover during this round-the-world odyssey.
Team SCA is the first all-female boat to enter the VOR in 12 years and they’ve taken their lumps, including a capsizing at night in the Southern Ocean, but they’ve started to find a rhythm of late. They were leading the pack partway through Leg 6. “We’re just really trying to push them as much as possible. We’re learning a lot,” says Annie Lush, a British trimmer on the 65-foot SCA vessel.
Basically, “learning a lot,” means spying. “It’s legal spying,” she says. “We have the binoculars out to see how they’re setting their sails, watching the GPS to see how fast they’re going, which gives us a mark of what kind of speed we need (to be keeping). Everybody does it. You go to a gym, you don’t train as well by yourself. We’re pushing against them. You’re out there for so long you’re always looking for motivation.”
Leg 7 to Lisbon, Portugal begins May 17 and the race finishes in Gothenburg, Sweden sometime in June.
The Blessed Year
For Makua Rothman, the last year has been a whirlwind. He captured a World Title on the Big Wave World Tour, had a baby and released his first album, Sound Wave (what is it about surfers and music?). Then, to back it up, Rothman won the opening event of the WSL Big Wave season by taking down the field during Chile’s Punta de Lobos event (pictured).
”It’s like when you hear people say, ‘the harder I work the luckier I get,’” Rothman tells SI.com. “I’d like to think I work that hard to put myself in a position to take advantage of opportunity. I’m just trying to stay focused and be the best I can be at surfing, my music and being a dad.” The whirlwind continues in the coming months—he just visited J-Lo on American Idol and has concerts in Japan and Brazil.
With a light snowpack throughout the West, single track riding in the alpine opened up ahead of schedule this year. And last week, the Whistler Bike Park in British Columbia, Canada—one of the most progressive freeride parks in North America—let the gates down on the summer season. Trevor John Berg, cornering.
Fly-fishing in Alaska is incredibly varied. Arctic grayling, Rainbow Trout and all types of Salmon are just a few of the species you can find. Here, photographer and guide Lee Keupper mixes adventure with his fishing, hiking a drainage in the state’s southeast corner with his wife Mary in search of Steelhead.
Last week, 350 racers entered Maui’s Olukai Ho’olaule’a, a two-day festival celebrating Hawaiian culture and open-ocean paddling. Downwinding is paddling’s adventure segment, where athletes use 14-17-foot boards (or outrigger canoes, as was the case on Sunday) to paddle into wind swell or bump, traveling down the coast, essentially surfing the whole way. Maui’s North Shore features the world-class ‘Maliko Run,’ which starts at Maliko Gulch, one of the most consistent downwind runs on Earth. This year, the conditions were perfect. Here, Danny Ching—who finished fifth—locks into a healthy runner.