The North Shore of Oahu has been buzzing recently, what with the Vans Pipe Masters going down sometime in the next week and the start of another winter season, with the first solid conditions of the season hitting Pipeline on December 2.
Tucker Wooding wouldn’t have missed that day for the world. The 25-year-old surf videographer and commercial fisherman has spent the last two years making a name for himself in the world of surf and drone videography by consistently being in the right place at the right time around the globe, from Nazaré to Jaws, Mavericks, and of course, Pipeline.
He makes it all work by salmon fishing in Alaska during the summers, which lets him spend all winter filming. And being based in San Francisco, he’s perfectly positioned for last-minute trips to Hawaii, longer journeys to Nazaré, or simply driving down the Pacific Coast Highway to Mavericks.
While in Hawaii for the Vans Pipe Masters, I caught up with Tucker to hear more about Pipeline’s opening day, his passion for drone photography, and how he’s been captaining his own commercial fishing boat since he was just 18 years old.
So talk about opening day at Pipeline.
Hard to say what counts as “opening day” – there was a swell a few days before where the morning was really good, but this was the first full day of just epic Pipeline, from morning to evening. It was kind of funky at times, but when it was good, it was absolute perfection. There was probably 100 people out, so it was pretty chaotic, but the conditions were as good as you could ask for.
What was what was your favorite wave of the day?
Billy Kemper stood out. Probably had one of the waves of the day. Barron Mamiya had a really sick one. Sai Smiley, this local guy from Maui had a chip in from super far out that rolled in perfectly, which was definitely one of the better waves. There were so many. Those three stood out though, and of course, Jamie had some crazy ones on the soft top.
How long have you been shooting Pipeline?
The first time I shot Pipe was two Februarys ago, so about two years now, but I didn’t start shooting it consistently until last winter when I was here pretty much all January and February just shooting every day.
What have you learned in those couple of seasons?
Yeah. It’s all about being more creative. I mostly shoot via drone, and there’s certain ways you can fly a drone and there’s certain ways you shouldn’t – you really want to be respectful towards the guys shooting from land. I see a lot of shots that just get butchered because there’s a drone in the shot, like right in front of the wave. It can look good, maybe as something unique, but it would suck if there are drones in …….