Words by John Streit. Photos by Shaun Devine, Daniel Brittain, Mickey McCarthy, Jon Carter, Billy Ficke, Colin Breland, Matt Vaughan, Jennifer Phan, Harrison Whittaker, Justin Rienerth, Jordan Bartholomew & Streit.

In the waning days of each year, it’s human nature to take a glance back at the highlights of the previous 12 months and reflect. As far as surf is concerned for the Mid-Atlantic region, 2014 will go down in history as one of the most swell-rich years in recent memory. From several big nor’easters to hurricanes that behaved in perfect fashion — no landfalls, only swell production — to pop-up windswells: you didn’t have to wait very long for the next swell. In combing through this year’s swell galleries, it was incredible to see not just the frequency of swell events, but the quality of the waves themselves. I originally set out to pick the year’s top 10 barrels, but soon realized that wouldn’t nearly do the feature justice. Forty-six barrels later, I humbly present the most hallowed hollow moments: The Best Barrels of 2014.


I'm not surprised in the least to see Brian Bassett make the cut for this feature. The dude knows how to get barreled with the best of them. This sequence is from our first feature of 2014, "Southside Surprise." Photo: Brittain.
This photo from "Ice Breakers" made an impact on me the first time I saw it. I love the sense of depth it creates, not to mention the centerpiece almond barrel.
This bodysurfing session documented in "Pax A Punch" goes down as one of the heaviest for everyone involved. John Streit going deep. Photo: Devine.
"May Days" displays S&A team rider Julian Smith tucked inside of this perfect little tube. Photo: Breland.
The "Research & Destroy" sessions turned in some examples of just how good the waves can get on the Outer Banks. Photo: Devine.
June 3 offered up some of the best conditions possible and pumping swell in Duck, NC. Several photos from the session, like this one of Shaun Devine, were ran in a Surfer Magazine web feature. Photo: Streit.
Wide open in Duck, Shaun Devine pulls up inside this cavern. Photo: Streit.
Perfection. Photo: Devine.
Great composition and a perfect lefthand barrel make this shot of John Streit a classic. Photo: Devine.
You know it's as glassy as it gets if the spit from a barrel creates ripples on the face. Photo: Streit.
Here's a contrast from the previous image. The wind and current created some insane texture on this Hurricane Arthur barrel, but the angle of the afternoon light and Shaun's positioning to capture the shop make for a timeless image. Photo: Devine.
Shaun Devine in the middle of a sequence that ran in "Birthed by Bertha: August 6." Another perfect Hatteras cylinder. Photo: Roberts.
S&A team rider Evan Micele links up with his little brother Ethan's lens for this Hurricane Bertha keg. Photo: Micele.
A southeast windswell filled in shortly after Bertha, making for some pretty little barrels on the Outer Banks. Shaun Devine took full advantage. Photo: Vaughan.
Size is not a determining factor in this best-of list. Perfect little shorebreak in Avon, NC. Photo: Vaughan.
Billy Ficke checks in with this north Avalon peeler. Photo: Ficke.
A classic OBX vision from "A Sneaky Week". Photo: Carter.
While Arthur and Bertha provided some memorable moments, Hurricane Cristobal's swell possessed an special, intense energy. New Zealander Nat Day put in a steller performance in the challenging conditions. Photo: Devine.
The Cove of Cape Hatteras displayed some perfect lefthanders. Photo: Devine.
Comin' in hot in Pea Island! Photo: Whitaker.
As Cristobal's swell peaked, some slabby spitters reared their teeth in Rodanthe. Photo: Devine.
NZ's Nat Day putting on a barrel-riding clinic. Photo: Streit.
Squared up and powerful, this Rodanthe Pier wedge stopped Shaun in his tracks. Photo: Devine.
A noticeable trend for 2014 was a solid swell hitting at the beginning of the months. October's Opening was no except. Photo: McCarthy.
Virginia Beach's Austin White with soul arch style that grabbed the header of October's Opening, Part 1. Photo: Whittaker
Ryan Leopold driving deep in the south Avalon pit. Love this shot from the pier.  Photo: McCarthy.
The same October's Opening swell sent this jewel to Virginia Beach. Photo: Baustista
And then Hurricane Gonzalo arrived to further blow minds... Photo: Devine.
Shaun Devine links up with Eddie Compo in this Hatteras barrel. Photo: Compo
Look at that thing! Photo: Devine.
Justin Rienerth called this guy Mysto Man; sounds a lot better than "unidentified!" Photo: Reinerth
John Kersey deep on his backhand during Gonzalo. Photo: Rienerth.
The Ledge. Photo: Devine.
OBX legend Noah Snyder inside a thick one. Photo: Phan.
Shaun's sunset swim during Gonzalo turned in some inspiring images. Photo: Devine.
A little boogie love for the gallery! An unnamed windswell during November produced this Avalon teepee. Photo: Breland.
First look over the dunes for our Afternoon Delight feature.Photo: Breland.
Like we said, you never had to wait long for another day of fun surf within a day's drive of Virginia Beach. This time, southerly winds turned the OBX into a beachbreak-pointbreak hybrid. Photo: Brittain.
S&A's Conner Barnes slides into this dark November pit. Photo: Breland.
Should we be surprised that December opened up with killer surf? Tyler Balak. Photo: Phan.
The second week of December outshined the first. Ocean City, Md. Photo: Compo.
Young OBX ripper Quentin Turko really emerged this year. Photo: Carter.

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