A Lot Can Happen In A European Week
Letter From The Editor: Caravaning through Spain with a few good men, Nazare, Jaws, firing Supetubos and the World Championship about to be won at Peniche
Good morning, lovers.
There’s a new swell starting to show here in Portugal, the reefs off Ericeira starting to come alive, and Nazare’s “breaking” (read: human-sized), but it ain't prime. Supertubos is still small, the AM offshores blowing the tops off chest high wedges, and so we’re suiting up here, taking advantage of the first downtime in a week. No flights to catch, no premieres, no one yelling “Get. In. The. God. Damn. Van!”
So here are my few quiet hours to pen you this letter, pal, before a quick dip at one of Europe’s most beloved slabs, and the short, winding sprint north to Peniche if the green light’s given. If it’s off, we’re heading to Praia Grande, where inflation vests and 10’0’s await us. Jah give me strength and good, capable friends with Jet Skis.
Nice to run into a familiar face, paddling through the Basque pack. Rob Machado enjoying a twinny's drive on a European racetrack. Photo by Jon Aspuru
A lot can happen in a week, during the right season, in a place like Europe (see above). After a playful, packed session at Mundaka, premiering a handful of films in San Sebastian and Barcelona, a day tearing into pintxos...pintxos...pintxos, I got grabbed by the scruff of my neck and tossed into a caravan with Tom Caroll, Matt Hoy, Kepa Acero, Natxo (cheese and chips) Gonzalez, and Aritz Aranburu. We blasted through the Basque Country, winding up through the Cantabrian Range, the Pyrenees mountains soggy and deep green courtesy of a cold front proving the old childhood rhyme false: the rain in Spain falls mainly on the…
Packed in, and stuffed. Photo by Marc Duru.
Sitting shotgun, alongside Marc Duru, TC traded volleys with Hoy in the very back, the two Australian idols shared war stories from their Salad Days, while Aritz, Kepa, and Natxo fielded questions about East Africa, Senegal, Western Sahara, Gabon. Here are a few gems I feel comfortable sharing:
Matt Hoy has worn a single pair of Doc Martens and a leather jacket since purchasing them, at the same time, in 1989. Like, the same exact pair. After the rest of the pack called it a night in Barcelona, Hoy and I ventured out into night, talking ‘80s punk rock bands, how incredibly young Europeans seem to start sucking on hash darts, and in search of some mischief, only to immediately have a very friendly Irish couple try and lure us back to their home for a, eh, you get the picture.
After grilling Natxo on the location of his desert diamond*, TC told us a story about his first trip to the Ments: In the early-’80s, after friends told him about islands in the Pacific with “waves wrapping all the way around them.” They scraped a crew together and found a young “Bubbler”—a guy who works on boats and underwater rigs—that was willing to take them out on an expedition. The young guy’s name was Martin Daly. And yeah, they found some new waves.
As TC blasted The Smiths, Iron Maiden, etc., he told us about seeing David Bowie on the Let’s Dance tour, famous for Bowie and Iggy Pop’s “China Girl,” which just, yeah, I can’t even imagine.
About ten years after their maiden Mentawais voyage, TC found himself back with Daly on one of Quiksilver’s notorious missions through Indo, along with Ross Clarke-Jones, Strider Wasilewski, and a 15-year old grommie from West Australia named Taj Burrow. Before the trip, the adults on board had agreed to sobriety until the last night of the trip, when, inspired by A Few Good Men…
I can’t tell you how many times we reenacted this scene from ...Lost’s excellent On The Road With Spike as kids, hazing the absolute fuck out of each other, screaming Coooooooodddddde RED, while tossing bottle rockets under bathroom stalls or leaning 50-gallon drums of gross rainwater against inward-opening suburban front doors. TC had the van dying, recalling young Burrow’s horror, and the fact that pretty much right after that trip he walked away from Quikie and their merry band of madmen.
Kepa, Natxo, and Aritz have had just an unfairly adventurous last ten years in West Africa. From Namibia north, the boys have surveyed some of the most promising coasts yet to be strip-mined. As we drove, we talked about the claims that his wave wasn’t as exquisite as the clip might try and make it. Which let me tell you, they don’t give a fuck if armchair pioneers think the wave was overhyped. Go find your own.
As we finished the trip, drinking beers on a rooftop overlooking the Barcelona waterfront (after a day cycling through the city, enjoying Gaudi architecture, conversations with pro-Catalan resistance, visiting local character Soren Mazoni’s wild man cave filled with pinball machines and 80’s skate decks, Vespas and motorcycles, human skulls, etc.) a local group Holy Bouncer shook the walls of the Quiksilver store and a couple hundred beautiful, dark-haired Spanish ladies swayd against the sunset scene.
This week, as our Sydney crew bounces through Australia with Summer Bright, another day another party another gallery of scroll arresting individuals enjoying southern hemi summer afternoons, we’ll be wrapping our coverage of the Rip Curl Pro here in Portugal.
Peniche, Sunday. Photo by Alan Van Gysen
We hope Supertubos has lived up to the hype. Watching it live, a historic crowd smothering Peniche’s scrubby dunes, with each post-spit exit the ground shakes to the crowd’s growing roar. There’s been no shortage of drama, Title contenders dropping by the wayside with each finished round: Josh Kerr’s towel-throwing, Jordy-besting weekend; John stuffing pits and hucking Hail Mary helicopter spins into the stiff Portuguese breeze; Kolohe’s newly sharpened competitive teeth (and thankfully cleaned up creative facial hair); and a handful of other memorable early round moments.
As the comp wraps at week’s end, if he can keep his form, John will be returning to Hawaii in similar fashion to last year, a hero’s Hawaiian welcome before a victory lap at the Triple Crown.
Speaking of which, Pipe’s already breaking! Jaws looks 50/50 but same: regardless of the comp, a Peahi session this early in the season is a good sign, and likely just the lit fire needed under the keesters a lot of the Big Wave guys have been sitting on.
If you missed them this week, we premiered a great short film on fine art photographer and perennial North Shore standout gentleman, Danny Fuller; Buck catfished The Inertia in good fun (and unbeknownst to us); Mike C. found a board made out of thousands of cigarette butts; and Rory Parker’s piece on what his honest wave pool fantasy future might look like is a must-read.
With that, we’re out the door, a quick americano and pastel del nata for the road, the Peniche call getting pushed back further and further into the afternoon. Cave has a few scary ones. Plus, a few mysto slabs up north are starting to break. I hope you’ve been getting wet, wherever you are.
Keep it cutty, with a little class, Stab.
Aztoxn Goxganz, Editor in Chief