Chris Peel is a surf photographer on board the PNG Explorer – Papua New Guinea surf charter that cruises along the country’s north coast (New Ireland province and beyond). It offers max 8 surfers on board, and that’s pretty much the only surfers you’ll encounter in the lineups as there are no other boat charters in PNG.
Ben Horvath recently sat down with PNG Explorer’s new surf guide Chris, who talked about his first season in PNG.
TPW – How old are you Chris?
CP – I am 23 years old.
How long have you been shooting?
I have been shooting since I was 5 but had a pretty big break during high school.
What is your role on the PNG Explorer at present?
I am the recreational coordinator, onboard photographer as well as a Dive Master. Basically in charge of getting everyone on the best waves, fish, diving sites, coldest beers and making sure you have a photographic record of it all.
How has the season been so far?
The season so far this years has been great. We started trip 1 with pumping waves even reaching the double and half over head range. And trip 2 hasn’t been far behind it. We have been getting large north swells that have been running east a little more than usual most likely caused by the El Niño system that we are going through this year.
None the less though, it has remained within the 3 feet range throughout our charters even on the smaller days giving us opportunities to surf swell magnets that are usually to big to work properly. Overall, I would say it has been a great start to the season and everyone has been getting more than their fair share of waves and tubes.
Ahhhh… Everyone asks this question. Generally people favor January, February and March but I think this is more so to do with annual leave than the surf. We have actually had some of our best swells in October and April. So an answer to this? Any month from October to April but also bear in mind locally we are still surfing in May and September.
Type of waves in the PNG Explorer’s territory?
I would have to say everything from mellow fun point breaks to challenging tubes and even beachy-like peaks and WAY more waves than you see in the promo pics.
What type of boards do you reckon crew should bring on their PNG surf trip?
This all depends on the riders ability and chosen style but, generally speaking, I would throw in a couple fun boards for shoulder to head high workable walls. Also I would throw in a board with a little more rocker for hollower tubey waves. My bread and butter quiver is a 5’9 Channel Islands Fred Rubble, 5’10 Channel Islands DFR, 5’9 Serpent Sled Hekkas Tekkas and a 5’4 Brett Munro Shark 2.0. The Captain Undies’ 2 favourite boards are 5’6 Braden Perry Mean Bean and a 5’10 Agent.
There are also a few pretty insane longboard points so if you wanna haul a log up here, we can get you the glean point surf they fire in.
Every surf zone in PNG operates under an awesome surf management system that Andrew Abel put in place decades ago. It’s the gold standard for best practice management of a surf resource in a sustainable manner … so basically the surfing experience in PNG is of the highest standard, i.e. there are no crowds as the number of surfers is set at a level that makes sure the surfing experience is perfect. Fees are paid to the local communities who are the resource owners and the whole system is transparent at every level and everyone is stoked. I reckon it’s the best place on the planet for a quality surf holiday.
How do your photo packages work?
By choosing to use the surf photo service, you will get exactly the same sort of attention that a full-blown surf magazine feature does, except it’s you and your mates.
Amazing line-ups, gorgeous sunsets, long blue walls and perfect tubes all set to the exotic backdrop only PNG’s remote islands can provide. This level of professional service is not available at any other surf operation in PNG .
About the photographer: Chris Peel
Chris comes to the PNG Explorer with experience well beyond his years. A well-traveled person at a young age. You can expect to find Chris anywhere from remote surfing locations of Indonesia, Nicaragua and PNG to high up in the backcountry of Hokkaido, Japan.
A rough expectation would be around 300-500 images per guest. These images can then be printed out in any format you wish for display in your home or office. You will also be able to display the images on your own computer as a slideshow or screen saver.
Sure it helps if you surf like Kelly Slater, but we are pretty confident that if you can paddle and stand up, you can get a great shot of yourself. The photographic service also covers all the other parts of your escape: the perfect sunsets, the stories around the bar, the big fish you nail, trips to the local village and all the colour of PNG. You basically have a professional photographer on hand for your whole trip.