“I Used To Only Surf Here With One Guy…His Name’s Henry, And He’s A Seal” - Stab Mag

“I Used To Only Surf Here With One Guy…His Name’s Henry, And He’s A Seal”

A contemplation on the frigid desolation of Iceland.

cinema // Mar 14, 2023
Words by Holden Trnka
Reading Time: 2 minutes

If you look up “fun things to do in Iceland,” surfing falls decently far below visiting the glacier lagoon or attending the Icelandic Phallological Museum.

As first-gen surf viking Elli Thor Magnusson explains, there’s really only 20 or 30 local Icelanders who subject themselves to year-round subarctic wave hunting.


Of course, for modern surf explorers in search of untouched apexes, these upper-digit latitudes of the globe have been the final avenue in the endless search.

Honeypot! Photo courtesy Wasted Talent

Wasted Talent’s newest film, ÍSLENSKU, leans on Chris Burkard’s northern knowledge for waves, while exploring Icelandic surfing’s cultural pillars in greater depth.

“We went this December for a couple weeks,” says Vans Stab High punter Koldo Illumbe. “The days were short, probably about 6 hours. You could only pretty much get one session in, because of the cold, the wind, and the time. It’s also about an hour between each surf spot, but it feels fast. You just cruise, watch the snow on the mountains, and enjoy the beauty.”

Despite a forlorn forecast — amidst what Elli Thor claims has been a dreadful year of surf — the Vans team still manages to make some Icelandic lemonade.

Admittedly, the snow-dappled vistas and smiling stories help their case — especially the fella who says he surfed one wave for 8 years with no more than a seal named Henry to share his discovery with.

A man who matches his art.

“The very first day, Seb Smart had his boards on top of the car,” Koldo remembers. “We went through this super windy six-hour drive, at night. When we stopped at the gas station to get snacks, Seb’s board was just completely gone (laughs). We didn’t bother driving back, there was no way we were gonna find it. We ended up calling the people that find stuff out there, and they didn’t find anything.”

That would explain why the British bred artist (and unlicensed boxer) was left to do the litreage calculations on a borrowed blade.

As for Koldo’s injured appendage, it was a minor fracture, and he was packing warmer pits in Hawaii not more than a few weeks later.

Bundle up, have a cup of tea, and ponder if a surf trip to Iceland is worth your precious shillings.


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