2022 Hurley Pro Sunset Beach
As one of the most famous big wave surfing spots, Sunset Beach (Paumalū) has long been a proving ground for the world's best surfers. Pioneered by the Hawaiians, he'e nalu (literally: wave sliding) slowly gained popularity throughout the 1930's and 40's until it birthed the sport of professional surfing in the 60's, and ever since Sunset has been the spot where surf careers are made or broken.
Sunset Beach offers a dangerous lava-rock reef and six wave peaks: Val's Reef, The Bowl, West Peak, Sunset Point, The North Wall, and Backyards. And while other waves have received the spotlight for their barrels and tube time, Sunset plays host to a different kind of wave, something much more elusive. With shifting peaks, heavy lips and currents, and a location that makes trade winds both an advantage and a disadvantage at the same time, it makes for quite the competition.
This year, I had the honor of creating the artwork for the Hurley Pro Sunset Beach, the second stop on the World Surf League World Championship Tour. This was truly a bucket list project for me (I even talked about it on a recent episode of Secondary Colors). It's something I've wanted to do for a very long time, way back to when I was just a teen slinging sticks at the local surf shop and getting paid to check the surf. And this area has actually long been an inspiration for me, dating back to one of my very first (and still one of my favorite) vintage-inspired travel prints of a wahine and her pup cruising Kamehameha Highway in search of waves.
When I learned that the contest would be at Sunset, I knew I wanted to feature the intricacies of the wave with the outside peak and the inside bowl. Lorrin Harrison, Gene Smith, and John Kelly were the first wave riders of modern Sunset Beach when they charged it in 1939 on finless boards. But it was the the famous ride by Michael "Munga" Barry that I wanted to feature on the wave out the back. With a touch of dappled palm shadows, hand-lettered type, and my signature nostalgic surf color palette, it was ready for print.
Just in time for the contest window, a killer NW swell rolled and I headed north with my ʻohana to watch the competition unfold and see my illustrations go from sketchpad to scaffolding.
In honor of this year's contest, Hurley rolled official gear with the contest artwork. Everything from tees and tanks to long-sleeves and hats. Plus for a limited time, we're offering a special, signed 18"x24" print of the event artwork.
It was truly a joy to see it all come together, to witness (career kick-starting) greatness from Brisa Hennessy and Barron Mamiya, and to have my family there with me to experience it all. Can't thank the great people at Hurley enough for inviting me to create the art for this year's contest. This is the kind of work I'm most inspired to illustrate so it was an immense pleasure.