Google ‘surf exploration‘ and you’ll be offered a plethora of inspiration to get you out of your seat and into a world where the effort is the adventure, and the reward is the waves. Whether you feel like searching Sumatra in a charter boat, Ireland in a catamaran or Iceland in a blizzard, surf exploration is in abundance and if your time is more precious than your bank balance, any number of adventures can be arranged for you. With a little bit of help, you can go off the radar, discover new waves and tame un-ridden spots, all within the half-term holidays. With a little bit of help, you can be a surf explorer.
Of course, there was a time when all surfers felt like they were explorers anyway. When Bruce Brown’s seminal surf film Endless Summer was screened in cinemas around England in 1967-68, it inspired a whole generation of British surfers to strap the boards on their cars and search for new waves. A few managed to take the dream further by voyaging overseas and surfing warm water paradises, but for many, the unexplored coastline of England held enough potential treasures to satisfy any wave hunter’s quest. This exciting era in British surfing is being celebrated in the new exhibition ‘Sixties Surfer!‘ at the Museum of British Surfing this year, so we asked the museum’s founder, Pete Robinson, to take us back in time this issue, to the true age of discovery (p38).
“Sometimes, the voyage of surfing discovery can lead to somewhere much darker than endless point breaks though”
These days, you might think you’d have to travel a long way to find new waves or truly get a sense of ‘the search‘, but there are plenty of people who are keeping the spirit of adventure alive. Take Naomi Wilcock and Matt Bailey, a couple who, since they caught the bug for surfing, have spent almost every weekend in their converted van, sleeping at beaches so they can fill as much of their spare time as possible with surfing (p34).
And following a huge session in Ireland with a crowd of pros, photographers and onlookers, Ollie O’Flaherty jumped in a van with two friends and went off in search of a mythical right-hand point break (p44). Sometimes, the voyage of surfing discovery can lead to somewhere much darker than endless point breaks though. For James Vybiral, it was the realisation that he was not cut out to be the big wave water photographer that he had dreamt of, as he got smashed into the reef during his South American adventure (p50). For Nick Roddy, it was his last glimpse of a perfect wave as he was taken at gunpoint into the jungles of Nigeria (p28). And for Shaun Wallbank and his crew, who pushed themselves over the edge of a rare, unforgiving slab in Tasmania, it was the moment that they brushed with death, when they discovered their clearest thoughts. The shot from that session on page 56 is without doubt, one of the most nightmare-inducing surf photos I’ve ever seen.
That, though, is the point of surf exploration; it is a very personal journey. One person’s perfection is another person’s worst nightmare, and someone’s discovery is another person’s secret spot. So whether you are contemplating that surf trip to a country you’ve never been, or just thinking of hiking around the corner from your local beach to see what’s there. Whether your preferred search engine is Google Maps or your rusty Citroen AX, the same is true today as it was in 1968 — you’ll never know, unless you go.
Editor (and on a mission)