Sub-Zero Surfing, Icelandic Hot Dogs And The Best Trip Of Asher Pacey’s Life
Watch: The ‘Fjordman’, an unappealing surf adventure to the far reaches of the globe.
Balmy Indo highlines? Freighting right-hand Mexican points? A hinterland prospector’s dream dig?
According to Asher Pacey, the best surf trip of his life was a month being held against his will in a van, forced to eat hot dogs, circumnavigating Iceland, at the hands of a once prone madman – a barefoot, bearded, beer-swilling, shoe-hating south coaster, Ryan ‘Maddog’ Mattick.
“The Fjordman” is the 20-plus minute documentation of this month-long Icelandic expedition/hostage situation.
‘Maddog’ ain’t no virgin to the ice realm; in 2010 he dragged a bunch of prone riders across the Arctic as part of the ‘critically acclaimed’, ‘The Viking’, then somehow convinced a kneeboarder to plant his hands firmly around the pipe in 2015 for No Country For Cold Men. But no other surf-focused Arctic flick out holds clout to Pacey’s dual finned Icelandic propaganda here today.
“Iceland is incredibly scenic, you pretty much have your head out the window the whole time looking at stuff and being blown away. We got to see the Northern lights about 6 or 7 times as well.” Asher Pacey. This is one of those times.
Twenty minutes that made grown men at the premiere cry, twenty minutes of waves that are only superseded by the backdrop they’re canvassed upon, and twenty minutes of solid argument of ditching that centre fin.
Oh, and for those who enjoy a well curated listening experience, the soundtrack was scored by Shining Bird’s, Russell W specifically for the film.
Alongside AP & Maddog were Dav Fox, Craig Anderson and Morgan Hives squeezed into the small van on a country that only experiences five hours of twilight flickering light every day. The latter three had enough and got the hell out there while the film’s protagonist and filmmaker continued in the heart of Icelandic darkness for a further two weeks.
“When i first got there there was a lot of green, but then the snow set in and the sun started getting lower.”
“I’d been to Norway, but I’d never been to Iceland before, I’d actually never met Mattick before either, the first time I met him was when I got off the plane…[laughs],” Pacey told Stab.
“Pace rocked up at Kelfavik airport, bottle of bisongrass vodka in hand, swigging away. Any question as how we’d all get along was immediately answered”, Maddog responded.
As is clear, Asher scored; although the locale isn’t exactly as pleasing as it appears to us, sitting behind a computer, rugged up in a jumper.
Greenland might be colder, but it’s not called Iceland for nothin’.
“One of the days it got down to -15 [Celsius] and generally it was between 0 and -10 air temperature, while the water temps were hovering between two and six degrees,” AP told Stab about the sub-zero conditions. “I was in a 5/4/3 with a hood and 5mm gloves, I assumed the Dog would bring thicker boots too but he only had 3mm…[laughs].
“At one point my feet were hurting so much I had to double up: a pair of smalls and then medium boots over the top of those. Ando ended up leaving me some 7mm boots when they came over though,” said Asher.
It should be noted that Maddog filmed the majority of film footage barefoot, simply because he, “hates driving with shoes”.
Although the geothermal springs were enough to soothe your soul alongside a nice drop after a short (read: long) day of keeping your limbs from seizing up.
But thin boots were the least of their neoprenal concerns; thin boots made for shredding might be bad, but boots that are frozen solid are (literally) much harder.
“We kept our suits in the back of the van meaning they’re not exposed to the heater. So when it dropped below zero the suits were actually frozen. You can’t do much other than just make sure you’re warm beforehand – fingers, toes, everything. Even then you can only last about two hours.” Pacey said about the suit sitch.
Oh, and aside from being as frigid as is fucking imaginable, coming into the winter months, Iceland only experiences about five hours of daylight. “You wake up at 8 am and it’s pitch black, it’s finally light by 10 am, but by around 3 in the afternoon the sun’s setting again,” Pacey continued, “Some of the spots we surfed in the Fjords weren’t really getting any sun at all, it’s almost perpetual twilight.”
In addition to the 19 hours of daily blackout, ice suits and wafer thin rubber soles, there’s also the issue of driving your packed out van up slopes more resemblant of skating rinks than roads.
“[At one spot] We went to do this little hill climb and it didn’t work the first few times. So we got a little run-up, got about halfway and the wheels started spinning and we were sliding backwards down the hill into a ditch; The Dog hit the handbrake and it pulled us around somehow so we were facing back down the road. If he didn’t do that though we were definitely going into a ditch but he somehow pulled it.”
Don’t ever complain about Sydney’s winter again.
“There were other sections that took three of four times to get out too, we had to get a run up, pick different lines and seriously plan how we were going to get out. We would’ve been trapped in there for days if we didn’t get out.” AP continued.
And even when the boys weren’t facing a few nights bunkered down in a ditch, they were facing three night stints in hot dog filled Icelandic service stations.
“The roads were shut, the weather was too gnarly to look around, we just bunkered down and kept warm in the servo for three days [laughs]. Hot dogs are a bit of a staple over there, we just planned out where we were going to head afterwards,” Asher says after regarding their three-day servo bender.
On a less-hotdog-related note, there’s not exactly a prospering gang of local surfers, and the waves are consistent, “There’s a lot of swells, different coastlines are exposed to all sorts of swells.”
…And if twin conducive points aren’t your cup of tea.
“I think we did about 7000km of driving all up over the month, Iceland isn’t exactly big, but you have to constantly be hunting to find waves. You can’t just sit in one spot.” said Asher.
“[In terms of other surfers] there’s not much going on at all. Besides that main pointbreak [near the beginning of the film] it was only ever me out surfing and Maddog shooting.
“There’s really core crew of like five dudes who are fucking core, but it’s nothing compared to what you see anywhere known for surfing. Imagine learning to surf in Iceland,” said Maddog on the local scene, “where there’s 5 hours daylight, the water is 5 degrees and the air temp hovers between 0 and -15.”
You’ll probably never go to Iceland, and if you do, I’d bet a buck that you won’t be keen to slip into your steamer. Pacey reckons it’s the ‘best surf trip he’s ever been on’, but despite how good it is, “I’ll take my hat off to anyone that deals with the cold over there”.
Stab Surfer of the Year: John John Florence, Italo Ferreira, Balaram Stack, Rolo Montes, and Shaun Manners
Day 9: "You can't do better than his year last year." - John John Florence
Full Moon Surfs, Impassable Puddles, And A Few Nights Spent Sleeping In A WSL Commentary Booth
A reader-submitted collection of nonconformist surf stories.
Carissa Moore And Finn McGill Are Your 2023 Vans Triple Crown Of Surfing Champions
They both pocket $50k and tickets to this year’s Vans Pipe Masters.
The Pick-Up, Presented By Vans, Episode 5
Mason Ho helps us ring in our final week on the North Shore.
Goofyfoot Brazilian World Champion Stars In Stab’s Biggest Board-Testing Franchise
Can you guess who?
Surf Community Rallies To Raise Funds For Eddie Winner And On-Duty Hawaiian Lifeguard Luke Shepardson
Because it's the right thing to do, of course.
Interview: Caity Simmers On Machete Wars, Rihanna, Personal Project Problems, And The Rise Of Female Surf Content.
A toast to ‘Toasted.’
Stab Surfer of the Year: Creed McTaggart, Albee Layer, Laura Enever, Dane Guduaskas, and Selema Masekela
Day 8: "65 years young and charging just as hard as ever at Pipe, Backdoor,…
“I’m Not A Big Wave Guy”
How Kai Paula accidentally made his mark at Jaws three weeks after surfing it for…
A toes in the sand, phone in the lagoon account of the 10th Eddie Aikau…
Breaking: Another CT Rookie Injured Before First Event
Sophie McCulloch pulls out of Pipeline due to Snapper Rocks snafu.
Watch: ‘Toasted,’ By Caity Simmers
Your favorite surfer directs, edits, and stars in her first feature film.
On-Duty North Shore Lifeguard Luke Shepardson Wins The Eddie Aikau
Local man prevails over 39 big-wave heavyweights at 29ft @ 19 seconds Waimea.
The Eddie Aikau Invitational Is On
Grab a beverage and enjoy surfing's Super Bowl Sunday
The Women’s CT Is About To See A Generational Shift
Only three women have won a Title in the past 15 years. Here's why that's…
“One For Marcio” – Albee Layer’s Tribute To Mad Dog
Imagine treating 30ft Jaws like Backdoor.
Stab Surfer of the Year: Noa Deane, Jamie O’Brien, Parker Coffin, Cliff Kapono, and Brendan Buckley
Day 7: "It's like he feels more comfortable when it’s as gnarly as it gets."…