Stab Magazine | Want To Find New Waves? Here's How

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Want To Find New Waves? Here’s How

Kepa Acero’s guide to discovery. 

style // May 6, 2017
Words by Brendan Buckley
Reading Time: 3 minutes

The greatest aspect of surfing is the unity. The unspoken understanding between all the different individuals. The fact that when you’re out there, amongst your brothers and sisters, you feel like a family. All of this is bullshit.

You hate crowds. I hate crowds. Even Kepa Acero, who loves everything, hates crowds. At least that’s what his actions lead you to believe.

Kepa’s passport looks like an encyclopaedia. In the past decade or so, he’s probably discovered more spots than anybody who isn’t mowing around the Indo area on a boat. If you want to find new waves, he’s the man to talk to. I want to find new waves, so I did.

Stab: How much time do you spend preparing before you explore a new place?
Kepa: It depends on the trip. To prepare, I mostly just use Google Earth to study the coastline. I also check swell charts every day to understand seasonal oceanic behaviour all around the world, so I know the best time to try a new place. And I try to get contacts through Facebook or Google. I’ve found that most people you reach out to are very helpful, which makes it much easier.

What exactly do you look for on Google Earth?
I want to surf pointbreaks or slabs. So to find them, I look at the shape of the coast and the thickness of the water. You can get an idea of how shallow the bottom is, which gives you an idea of how hollow the waves might be. Most of the time, finding them isn’t the hard part. Getting to them is. You often have to go places that don’t have any infrastructure for travellers whatsoever.

How many potential waves do you need to see in a location before you decide to go?
Usually, I have like five or six different spots I’m looking at before I go. A lot of the places are often flat — so when a swell actually comes, you need to pick just one of those waves. You won’t know what the other four or five are doing that day. But if you spend a long time in a place, you can explore all your options.

Do you rely on local people to help guide you?
Definitely. You’ll go on a trip and meet someone who can remember seeing a surfer at a certain spot 15 years ago. That type of thing keeps you confident that something’s around. And there are also times where people will be very hospitable and offer you their house or their car. That kind of stuff rarely happens in places where there are a lot of crowds.

Have you ever been completely skunked?
Yes. I spent a month in Antarctica and didn’t even catch a wave. It was still an amazing experience though. Sometimes you go somewhere and you score. Sometimes you don’t. That’s what keeps it exciting.

IMG 9517

Fact: One of life’s greatest joys is searching for waves by boat.

What keeps you addicted to searching for new waves?
It’s in our spirit to want to know what’s happening in other places. When I was growing up, old Basque surfers used to explore surf spots and I think that inspired me for life. It’s in our culture. If you experience new waves and new places, you can still have that romantic view on surfing.

I think we’re the last explorers. Technology is getting better and better, and it feels like pretty soon we’re going to know everything. There won’t be anywhere you can go and not know what you’re going to find. We are some of the last people to have this opportunity to truly find something unexpected. But even with the world changing, I do think it’s important to pass that spirit on to the next generation. Because more than anything, it’s a way of seeing life.

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