“All The Kids Are Dreaming About Surfing Now”
Watch ‘Fraternité’ starring Italo Ferreira, Cherif Fall and Josh Faulkner.
There’s hometown heroes and there’s global superstars.
In a microcosm, the treatment of both is similar — they are received with welcome and warmth, perhaps they eat free, skip the queue, are supplied with an abundance of mating prospects. But as you move either persona from their roots, you get to see what the difference in reach means. The circle of concern for what the hometown hero has accomplished deteriorates, and in the outermost rings, geographically speaking, they are received with the same pedestrian indifference any ordinary person should expect when walking through a foreign shopping mall.
Italo Ferreira isn’t just a hometown hero though.
As surfing’s first Olympic gold medallist, a World Champion, and perhaps the most exciting surfer on the planet right now, there is hardly a coastal community that nets swell where his mug hasn’t been transmuted digitally via LED screens to inspired eyeballs — including 3,073 kms away from his hometown in Baia Fermosa, in the Senegalese capital of Dakar.
The purpose of this trip was a ‘Welcome to Team’ for Cherif Fall. The Senegal native whose silky-raw style caught the eyes of Bong, who subsequently decided to add him on their roster. Cherif’s favourite surfer is Italo, who unbeknownst to him, was nearby in Europe in late October, and headed down to surprise him at home along with Wasted Talent’s, Yentl Touboul .
“Italo’s reception was incredible. It was like the whole town had an Italo text thread,” says trip photographer, Jimmy Wilson. “Once people found out he was there, they were freaking out. The first time we pulled up to that island wave, there must have been 30 kids sitting on the roof of this house just screaming. It was surreal, he was a rockstar. They were all getting photos with him, just so psyched. He was so good about it too, he just rolled with it. He wasn’t too cool, he gave everyone the time of day. He’s pretty genuine, and it’s got to be hard to not be overwhelmed by that. You wouldn’t think in a place so foreign you would be getting mobbed like that when you’re that far away from home. He’s a busy guy and he was very accommodating.”
A gushy little side note about the film:
- Surfers are communicating in their first language, being able to articulate themselves properly beyond their native tongue with subtitles is a very nice touch.
- It’s no secret how this idea came about. Evan Slater of Billabong was formerly the EIC of Surfing Magazine, and his legacy is that of finding unlikely waves. He was the first to paddle Cortez Bank and was on the original Surfing trip with Cory Lopez et al to Skeleton Bay in Namibia and Cloud 9 in the Phillipines.
- The waves in Senegal are surpirsingly good. The most exciting wave is the running left that looks to wedge straight out of deep water, perhaps the result of a refraction or deep water canyon. Looks like one bottom turn into a critical turn. Very rare (see photo #6 below).
- They got a world champ to make time to visit a place without great surf. This would have been unheard of 10 years ago.
Below are Jimmy’s photos with extended captions for context. See what a global superstar’s presence means for the grassroots Senegalese surf community.