Ukraine Got Surf - Stab Mag

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Ukraine Got Surf

The port town of Odessa on the Black Sea had a thriving grassroots surf scene, now it’s being shelled.

elsewhere // Mar 24, 2022
Words by Ethan Davis
Reading Time: < 1 minute

Ukraine’s third most populated city, Odessa is home to two of Ukraine’s best surf spots. Arcadia Beach is the most popular surf break in the country that occasionally morphs into a point break thanks to the several piers built in the area that groom swell into a neat assemblage of running lines. Ukraine officially became members of the International Surfing Association (ISA) in April, 2021. They had a surf team at El Salvador in May when the Olympic qualifiers were finalized. 

To be sure, conditions in the Black Sea are fickle and freezing. Surfing is not a mainstream pastime. Water’s drop to 8-11 celsius in winter and warm only to 14-18 celsius in summer. Nevertheless, there is a core community of enthusiasts who squeeze themselves into 6/5mm suits, boots, hoods and gloves year-round. 

“We had the first attack on February 24, the day the war started,” said Vasiliy Kordysh, President of the Ukrainian Surfing Federation in an interview with magicseaweed. “Most of the big cities of Ukraine were attacked by the rockets in Russia. I woke up at 5am from my mother’s call, she said ‘the war has started’”.

Odessa as a major seaport and transport hub located in the south-west of the country has been a strategic target for Putin’s advance through Ukraine. It also holds a cultural significance as a city founded by 18th century Russian Empress, Catherine the Great who declared it ‘an open city’. “This unique status allowed a free exchange of foreign goods, free trade with the Middle East and Europe, and a free flow of ideas, a blossoming of the arts and an influx of foreigners,” wrote historian Anna Makolkin. 

Putin thinks otherwise though, and the waves of Odessa are now going unridden.

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