Three stories worth of whitewater bear down on a surfer at Steamer Lane's Middle Peak on Tuesday.
(Kevin Painchaud / Lookout Santa Cruz)
Coast Life

‘Big Tuesday’ Photos: When the ocean delivers, it’s (s)well worth seeing

A giant northwest swell lit up the coast throughout Monterey Bay on Tuesday, providing visual stimulus for surf watchers and an intense physical challenge for those surfers willing to put themselves out there in extreme conditions.

Tuesday was a quasi-holiday for the people of Santa Cruz whose rhythms are set by the ebb and flow of the ocean.

When the waters of Monterey Bay come to dramatic life from sunrise to sunset like they did, with glorious summer-like December weather to boot, everyone seeks a gaze from the relative safety of a cliff.

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And the brave ones psych themselves up into water warrior mode, pulling on their wetsuit with butterflies in the pit of their stomach, waxing up the biggest surfboard in their quiver — the one that may only see daylight once a year.

Lookout photographer Kevin Painchaud wandered out to West Cliff late Tuesday where an expectant crowd was watching and the powerful northwest swell was still pulsing.

We hope you enjoy the selection of amazing visuals he captured. They truly showcase the natural wonders that exist right off our shores — especially when a massive northwest swell wraps into the bay just right.

Steamer Lane
(Kevin Painchaud/Lookout Santa Cruz)
Steamer Lane
(Kevin Painchaud/Lookout Santa Cruz)
Steamer Lane
(Kevin Painchaud/Lookout Santa Cruz)
Steamer Lane
(Kevin Painchaud/Lookout Santa Cruz)
Steamer Lane
(Kevin Painchaud/Lookout Santa Cruz)
Steamer Lane
(Kevin Painchaud/Lookout Santa Cruz)
Steamer Lane
(Kevin Painchaud/Lookout Santa Cruz)
Steamer Lane
(Kevin Painchaud/Lookout Santa Cruz)
Steamer Lane
(Kevin Painchaud/Lookout Santa Cruz)
Steamer Lane
(Kevin Painchaud/Lookout Santa Cruz)
Steamer Lane
Steamer Lane
(Kevin Painchaud/Lookout Santa Cruz)
Steamer Lane
(Kevin Painchaud/Lookout Santa Cruz)
Steamer Lane
(Kevin Painchaud/Lookout Santa Cruz)
Steamer Lane
(Kevin Painchaud/Lookout Santa Cruz)