Slater’s Iconic “Tomahawk Chop” Turn!!

Crossfire! Dugan V. Mez’s Angle Of Slater’s Iconic “Tomahawk Chop” Turn!!

Re-print from ESM online

March 8, 2019 • ESM Crossfire!, Photos

If it was a contest this one was really over before it even got started. More to the point, it was fait accompli when, back in the early 1990’s, Tom Dugan got to the beach 30 minutes before me and decided to shoot The Champ from Sebastian Inlet’s up front and center “Honey Hole” photo angle next to the jetty with his tripod mounted Canon 600 mm lens. Upon arriving and sussing where my partner was I set up with my “6” about 75 yards up the beach to the north in front of Larry’s Lefts  as a courtesy to not step on Doogie’s angle and, hopefully, catch what we call a crossfire and come up with two unique perspectives of the same move at the exact time for the pages of ESM, a longtime reader favorite. Not easy to do but, when it happens, it is truly photo magic based partly on serendipity and the synchronization of two shooters camera’s 10 frames per second motordrives. And this is about as magical as it get in my opinion as you will see below.



Dugan’s award winning snap of Kelly from the “Honey Hole” angle next to the Sebastian Inlet jetty that went on to be on Australia Surfing Life’s “Best 50 Photos Of All Time” list and one badass looking bronze statue. So much cool, up close detail to see here- the huge, sheeting, crystal fan of water displacement, the puffed up fish lips as Kelly exhales through the turn and the sublime form including placement of his arms and perfect body mechanics as he torques through this massive, railed out arc on his brother Sean’s board. In a word, mesmerizing. Photo: Tom Dugan

This crossfire of Kelly – dubbed the “Tomahawk Chop” by an ESM staffer – is also illustrative of just how crucial the angle a photographer chooses can be and the the difference between a cover shot, a double page spread or a postage stamp. In this case it was the difference in having one of your best ever frames getting turned into a beautiful public statue of surfings GOAT, Robert Kelly Slater ( Tom’s head-on look ) or being relegated to close but no cigar obscurity gathering dust in your files ( my up the beach p.o.v. ). Yeah, cover shots and double spreads are ( were ) nice and many, many photog’s can claim them but only one guy I know can claim an accolade as unique as this. Me? I’m just stoked I was there to have witnessed it and have my little piece of 4 color slide film memorabilia in my own collection – along with this ESM Crossfire – which ain’t a bad consolation prize at all. – Words by Mez –



My angle from way up the beach. Still a pretty sick looking turn but not nearly as visually dramatic, detailed or informative of just how totally sick the turn truly was when compared to Dugan’s frozen moment above and the future inspiration for sculptor Natasha Drazich’s beautiful, life sized bronze casting of the 11 x world champ now on display for all to see on highway A-1-A in his home town of Cocoa Beach, Florida. Photo: Mez



Tom Dugan – an avid surf memorabilia collector for decades and the man who snapped Kelly’s first ever published surf shot 40 plus years ago – with what has to be THE ultimate piece for anybody’s collection just waiting to be signed by Kelly someday ( ya’ listening, Champ? ). Photo: Mez

Leave a Reply