Russ' last ride at The Right - photos and interview
Just as some surfers become synonomous with a wave - think Lopez and Pipe, Tomson and J'Bay - so to do some water photographers. In these instances the photographer becomes recognised because they've committed themselves to a wave over a number of years. They've repeatedly put themselves in the firing line whenever it's broken and, at risk of serious injury, they've returned with ever more intimate angles. Think Scott Aichner at Pipe, Chris Van Lennep at Cave Rock, and Russell Ord at The Right.
However when we talk about Russ and The Right it's always gonna be past tense, because as of Monday Russ has hung up his gloves out there.
Swellnet had a quick chat about the fella whose delved deeper than anyone at Australia's most brutal wave
Swellnet: So it's true you've had your last swim out there?
Russell Ord: Yeah, I wasn't even gonna go out there on Monday but Darren (McCagh - creator of upcoming documentary, One Shot) still needs a few shots for his doco.
What's the reason?
Few reasons. One is that it's just too busy now; on Monday there were 18 skis in the channel and only 4 or 5 of them had brought riders with them. The rest were poaching shots.
The other reason is that I've achieved everything that I wanted to achieve out there. I've done what I wanted. I just don't think I'll be able to take a better shot than I have, and you know it's a real fine line out there. Shooting fisheye you can be two metres one way and be too far away, or be two metres the other way and get sucked over the falls. And you get too old to go over the falls out there!
You went over the falls on Monday, yeah?
Yeah, I decided to try and shoot under Chris Shanahan as he went past - dont know what I was thinking - and I ended up going over with it. It was in a relatively safe spot compared to what it could have been, however I was not in the best position on the second one and copped that on the head. I actually pulled my safety vest on that one but only because I wanted to test it, I had plenty of air left in the lungs.
How often have you been punished out there?
I have been caught out of position on a number of occasions and taken a couple of hold downs. Sometimes I feel I haven't committed enough because I should be copping more than I have. I had my oldest son Kalani come drive the ski for me yesterday so I didn't want him going home saying we lost dad today. He had a great time and it was nice to share what I actually try to attempt when down that way. The surfers were charging yesterday they put me to shame.
You got your eyes on any other waves to shoot?
Yeah but I'd rather not talk about it, just do it. Some wave you don't even know if you'll go out when you see them break.
Any clues to the types of shots you'll be hunting in the future?
I am going to travel through the Pacific with the family and just going to document the whole experience, I do have a few waves on the wish list that I would love to have a swim in and made some enquiries here and there but in the end if doesn't happen so be it. In the end its only for my own personal experience. I still love the lead up to these type of shots, doing the breathe hold training with One Ocean International.
I'd love to try some freedive imagery. I take my hat off to those photographers that take incredible underwater images on one breathe...maybe try a few more of those?
...and with that, here are some of Russ' shots from Monday. His last swim and his last photos from The Right.
Dan Ryan in sequence.
Chris Shanahan in sequence
Majestic and empty
James Hick getting footloose