This profile of Luke Shephardson is full of joy, not just in his achievements—which include winning the most prestigious big wave competition in the world, the Eddie—but in the tender accounts of Luke’s family life. Gabriella Paiella does not shy away from reality: The family struggles to make ends meet on the expensive North Shore. But she also makes it clear just how happy Luke is with his lot. Sure, he’d like to own his own house, but he is not searching for the next big thing—he appreciates what he has. If only more of us could say that.
Luke has surfed waves in Tahiti and Fiji, chased swells in Japan and Chile. But he wants to stay on the North Shore forever. He wants his kids to be able to stay here, and maybe even their kids. “It’s better to struggle in paradise,” Luke tells me, “than to be unhappy and rich somewhere else.”