Renan Faccini is the bodyboarder with his arms aloft in Luke Shadbolt’s Energy category winning shot. He talks to us about that wave and why the sport couldn’t exist without photographers.

What’s going on in the photo?

Some guys from Le Boogie magazine came over to do a video and they got in contact after seeing I was surfing different kinds of waves, which they don’t have in Australia; waves that hit rocks to make a kind of side wave. These waves form a pyramid in the middle of the beach and break so close to the sand. When we got to this place I was just like ‘woh!’ I’d surfed this spot lots of times and never seen it like this. The lip of the wave was hitting the rock just perfectly. The waves weren’t really that big, but it was making a huge explosion of water. It was so loud – it sounded like a grenade!

Photographer: Luke Shadbolt Red Bull Illume 2016 Category: Energy Athlete: Renan Faccini Location: Rio De Janeiro, Brazil
Photographer: Luke Shadbolt Red Bull Illume 2016 Category: Energy Athlete: Renan Faccini Location: Rio De Janeiro, Brazil

Looks like you’re stoked to have survived a bad wave!

I wasn’t aware Luke was taking the photo. I got as close as I could to the side wave and there was this huge explosion. The sound was so loud! I just threw my hands up. I wasn’t hurt or anything – I was just stoked for the wave that was coming next!

How did you feel when you first saw the photo?

Luke didn’t even show me the photo! The guys said it was going to be the cover of the DVD and I was like “woh”! It’s incredible, I was just stoked when I did see it. It’s a perfect shot – normally this area is crowded and there was no one around. It wouldn’t be so awesome if I wasn’t alone with my arms in the air.

How important is photography to body boarding?

Very, even if I don’t do competitions anymore. We actually need photographers to be able to do what we want to do, especially now. The magazines may have gone because of the internet and all that. But there’s a huge market for surf imagery right now for major companies. As athletes, we need to be out shooting. Photographers are as important as the athletes.

What’s the most important skill for photographers to have?

You can’t just go and buy some equipment, shoot and get shots like Luke. You have to spend time around the athletes. You have to understand what’s going on. Maybe if it was another photographer who didn’t understand the sport, he wouldn’t have seen that moment. You have to understand how the guys are riding the waves to do different shots.

Follow Renan’s bodyboarding adventures on Instagram @renanfaccini and if you want to see more of Luke Shadbolt’s work, head over to his website http://lukeshadbolt.com
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