A few days ago a clip popped up on Instagram of Basque charger Indar Unanue threading a turquoise tube as it spun down a perfectly sculpted sand-bottomed point.
The conditions and set up look like cartoon perfection come alive and a reasonable first assumption had this as one of many highlights from a thoroughly fruitful strike mission.
However, Indar’s edit from the trip revealed a completely different story.
As it turned out it was this was the only made tube from a mission that involved four days travel, four broken surfboards, a solid wedge of budget and just 12 hours of water time.
While the barrel itself was perfect, these ratios are enough to make most surfers wince, so we hit up Indar for the full story behind his escapade and to ask, was it worth it?
The set up will look familiar to most; it was first revealed to the world by fellow Basque surfer Natxo Gonzalez, back in 2017, when it featured in his clip ‘A dream come true’. Since then, word has got out among the global free-surf fraternity, with each swell seeing a dozen or so surfers from around the world fly in. However, the man who found it still keeps the location very close to his chest.
“The truth is, me and Natxo are friends, but he never told me where the wave is,” explains Indar. “But in my town, there are some other surfers who know, and they told me, ‘eh we’re going to surf Natxo’s wave, we’re leaving tomorrow.’ And I said ‘Really? Can I come?’”
“Of course, I called Naxto first and said ‘hey there’s a swell coming, these people told me they’re going to your wave, is it cool to go and film?’ and he told me ‘yea, of course, no worries!’ Around the media, we don’t say where the wave is, but it’s the sort of spot where if you find the place, you’re welcome.”
Although Indar has been surfing professionally for over a decade, nowadays he also works as a coach at Artiz Aranburu’s surf centre, so it’s rare for him to be able to drop everything and take off across the world on a swell.
“It’s not normal,” he says. “But because we are surfers, once or twice a year we can do it.”
After a day of stressful prep and two days travel, Indar arrived at the wave, which he describes as a heavier, faster, more sectiony, mirrored version of Skeleton Bay in Namibia.
“The drop is sometimes impossible and you don’t know if it’s going to be too fast, and sometimes it’ll finish right on the sand. It’s really heavy and shallow.
But, if you take a good one and you make it, you can get one of the best barrels of your life.”
“You have to go in with a very open mentality,” he continues, “because in these places, sometimes you’re going to get the best one, or a lot of good barrels and sometimes you’re not.”
While the arithmetic of travel hours to tube time might lead you to conclude the boys got skunked, Indar was unequivocal when I asked if he reflected on the trip as a triumph or failure.
“It was a triumph, of course!”
“It’s such an amazing wave and it only breaks like that once a year or so, so it’s incredible to have the opportunity to go there and get a barrel like that.”
Beyond the rarity of the conditions and the perfection of the wave itself, there’s further context that cements the ride as momentous.
According to local sources, the land overlooking the beach has recently been bought up by foreign investors, who have drawn up plans to build a giant hotel complex, complete with a marina that could destroy the wave forever.
Accordingly, the visiting crew never know for sure if the conditions will align again before the proposed development has its way with this otherwise pristine stretch of coast. And while we hope the destructive plans can be halted before it’s too late, if that’s the last time anyone is spat from a tube over the beaches’ hallowed sandbar, then it certainly was a hell of a curtain call.