There are few moments in surfing more intense than the exhilarating rush of uncertainty that comes from a steep drop. Tahiti’s Matahi Drollet is no stranger to dropping in to beyond vertical waves, his fearlessly casual approach has made him a heavy wave standout, especially at his homebreak of Teahupoo. Drollet surfs gnarly waves with a level of confidence and comfort which only comes from putting yourself in extreme positions time and again; making the uncomfortable, comfortable. Here’s Drollet at Rockpiles, one of the most unpredictable waves on the North Shore, 100% commitment in the face of uncertainty. Photo: Brian Bielmann

Magic carpet rides do exist. Josh Moniz gliding through perfection at Pipeline. Photo: Brian Bielmann

When below becomes above, underwater redirect, Tahiti. Photo: Brian Bielmann

Flare. Photo: Christa Funk

Billy Kemper Sunset Point coping destruction. Photo: Mike Latronic

Aggravated assault, Filipe Toledo with a karate kick to this unsuspecting Ehukai lip. Photo: Brian Bielmann

Barron Mamiya surfs a different lineup at Pipe/Backdoor; it’s further in and deeper from just about everyone else. Mamiya full speed in his own zone. Photo: Brent Bielmann

Koa Rothman driving hands-free in the Pipeline fastlane. Photo: Brent Bielmann

North Shore fireworks. Photo Brian Bielmann

Zeke Lau in familiar territory, Off the Wall power torque. Photo: Brian Bielmann

This edition’s Jose Cuervo Tradicional “Shot of the month,” Kalani Rivero with a Rocky Point fin-drift. Photo: Oliver

The Banzai Pipeline is the nucleus of surf spots, a concentration of raw power and intensity against which all other waves are measured. And if the severity of the wave wasn’t enough of a challenge, you first have to navigate one of the most fiercely competitive lineups in the world just to attempt a wave. This shot of Ivan Florence, a young man about as well-versed in the intricacies of Pipeline as they come, was taken just moments after he’s cleared the gauntlet of the crowd and all of his focus has shifted to the wave itself. Florence through the chaos, aiming for glory. Ivan Florence. Pipeline. Photo: Brent Bielmann

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