A brief history of surf in Russia
Words by Morgan Williamson Ahh, the motherland! Russia’s got a bustling surf town. Bustling’s aggressive. Russia kind of has a surf town, a surf camp, a surf hut… people surf there. On the Kamchatka peninsula, some 4000 miles from Moscow in an area surrounded by active volcanos, frigid waters and weather patterns that’ll freeze you […]
Words by Morgan Williamson
Ahh, the motherland! Russia’s got a bustling surf town. Bustling’s aggressive. Russia kind of has a surf town, a surf camp, a surf hut… people surf there. On the Kamchatka peninsula, some 4000 miles from Moscow in an area surrounded by active volcanos, frigid waters and weather patterns that’ll freeze you to your marrow one day and leave you bronzing the next. The water temp never breaks 50 (10 C) degrees, it’d be safe to say it barely breaks 40 (4.4 C).
The mystic man, Mr Dane Gudang took a trip there back in 2012. Surfing was just starting to kick off on the peninsula. “There’s a little community of surfers,” Mr Gudang told Stab. “They were just starting to surf. They were all mountaineers, absolute badasses. They were taking to surfing with so much excitement. I follow some of the guys on Insta. It looks like they’re surfing every day.They’re just fully psyched. They learned to surf in like 40 degree water. It’s pretty epic!”
These days a cordial young cat by the name of Anton Morozov owns a surf hut at Khalaktyrskii Beach. And now a brief history of surfing in Russia:
After the fall of the Soviet Union a group of snowboarders learned about surfing while abroad in the 90’s. These pioneers brought boards and wetsuits back into the motherland. As warm and smooth as Russian vodka surf groups started popping up along the coast of the Baltic sea near St. Petersburg, the Black Sea near Sochi and the sea of Japan near Vladivostok. However the surf in these areas wasn’t optimum. It didn’t really take off until surfers made their way to Kamchatka.
Then one fine day in 1997, a group of surfers from Moscow came to Kamchatka. As soon as they came, they were gone. But they left behind their boards and wetties. In 2000 Mr Morozov tracked down a board and suit abandoned on that fateful day in ’97. “The first surfers came here thinking it would be a mecca for waves,” Anton told the LA Times. “But they didn’t know what they were doing, and they had a tendency to blame their problems on the surroundings: the waves, the beach, even the locals.”
Then in 2004 a man by the name of Tom Curren descended upon Russia in search of waves. He visited Kamchatka, donned his hood, boots and gloves and took the waves of the peninsula with peerless style. Rideable waves on the peninsula was made apparent. And our dear Anton started to surf until he actually could surf.
“Anton is the main man out there. When we were there he was starting to culminate a little surf community,” Mr Gudang tells us. “Outside of the surf hut culture there’s no surf culture for a million miles. You couldn’t identify anyone as a surfer. The coastline is crazy, Kamchatka is the main hub for surfing but there’s infinite potential. It just takes a very peculiar swell direction and it’s pretty inaccessible. If you had like a big boat or a helicopter, you could find something really special on Russia’s coast.”
“We would wake up at the beach where we were camping,” Dane recalls his trip a few years back. “The locals would drive in from the town and party so hard on the sand. If the weather is nice for the weekend, it’s on over there! They’d be blasting crazy techno, skulling vodka and shooting guns out to sea. They’d throw us a bottle and we’d take a swig, it was so gnarly! Like full proof. They’d all have their speedo’s on shooting guns, blasting music. It’s insane!”
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