A Webcam for Every Wave

For many, webcams trained on surf breaks were another dispiriting sign that the sport was being taken out of the wild and further domesticated. Then again, how could you not look? One click, and there was a live shot of Pipeline, or Malibu, or Bondi Beach. It almost felt like teleportation.

Laird Hamilton’s Millennium Wave, ridden on August 17, 2000, was the first real test of surfing’s Digital Age preparedness. Less than 48 hours after the event, photos of the ride, converted to low-res jpeg files, were attached to emails and sent to a handful of surf magazine editors. Within three or four days the images had landed in every surf-industry-related hard drive from Torquay to Tokyo. Al...

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