Roark's 'Arc of Aleutia' Is a Remarkable Piece of Surf Cinematography - Stab Mag

Roark’s ‘Arc of Aleutia’ Is a Remarkable Piece of Surf Cinematography

Watch a live premiere tomorrow on Stab Premium.

Words by Alistair Klinkenberg

Editor’s note: Arc of Aleutia has only previously been available on Apple TV, but we’re hosting a one-time-only live streaming tomorrow on Stab Premium (7 pm PDT, Tuesday, March 16). It will be live for one hour only. If you miss it, you miss it. Hope to see you there.

All Photos by Chris Burkard.

Cold water surf travel is a beautiful daydream.

It’s easy to sit on the couch in your temperate home, fire lit for effect rather than necessity, picturing dark ales around the roaring campfire, frozen booties suspended above the flames after a day of slipping down an oily pointbreak framed by snow-tipped mountains. However, when it comes time for that next surf trip, it’s all too easy to stick to consistent waves in warm water.

Harrison’s plenty used to staring out airplane windows, less acclimatised to doing so in a beanie. Photo: Burkard

Consistent waves in warm water has been Harrison Roach’s raison d’etre for the duration of his decorated surfing career, splitting his time between his Queensland home and Indonesia. Then he signed with Roark, and next thing he knew he was embarking on an almighty mission to the Aleutian Islands, a remote collection of atolls in Alaska, to film for their stunning film Arc of Aleutia.

How that for serenity; the Roark team’s first tidal bore session couldn’t possibly have. Photo: Burkard

This mission was part surf trip, part pilgrimage, inspired by frontier traveller Bob Kemp, a man who hiked and photographed his way through the islands, pioneering the inhospitable coastline in the 1970s. Harrison had seen Bob’s grainy photos and heard stories of long points and hollow slabs, but admits that he wasn’t exactly optimistic that the troupe was going to score good waves.

The left (in less than ideal conditions) that Chris Burkhard reckons is worth the trip alone. Photo: Burkard

“In my experience of surf travel I don’t often score surf — there are so many variables. I knew so little about the Aleutians surf-wise that I thought it’d be a long-shot to expect everything to come together,” Harrison told me. “I was focused on and excited about the experience of being somewhere so remote and with such dramatic weather and landscapes — waves were always going to be a bonus. To say I was pleasantly surprised would be a severe understatement.”

About as far from plunging off the side of your Ments charter as you can get. Photo: Burkard

Chris Burkard (who co-directed Arc of Aleutia with Ben Weiland) has changed cold water surf travel permanently with his endless thirst for adventure and his beautiful imagery. Chris had visited the Islands a couple of times before but admits it’s somewhere he’ll never “work out”. Which was the mystique that he and Ben wanted to convey in the film.

“It’s not all about scoring surf”, but it sure makes for a compelling film when you do. Photo: Burkard

“In surfing there’s so many stories about legends; how this wave was found, this guy who did this. In the grand scheme of things, that one person’s legend has led us there on multiple trips to come chase it and pay homage to his memory,” Chris says. “The film’s not really about scoring surf, it’s about legend and how legend affects you.”

There is no nearest hospital. Photo: Burkard

The landscape and backdrops, cinematography and storytelling in Arc of Aleutia are beautiful. Guaranteed to stir your dormant inner-traveler. But the cherry atop the pie of the film is that the crew scored waves. And not just any waves, all kinds of waves — from picturesque tidal bores through long right points, a left that Chris Burkard, a man who’s seen more cold water setups than most, describes as “a wave that people would travel really far to surf,” and perhaps most significantly, a slab that looks equal parts majestic and terrifying.

You’re a long way from medical assistance, you’re in a 6/5/4 with boots, gloves and hood, be honest, you going? Photo: Burkard

“With exposed reef at beginning and end, there were as few options for entry as there were for exit,” Harrison says of the slab. “And with a swell that was perhaps a couple of feet too big, the slab epitomised our humbling Aleutian experience. I never really expected to feel that way in my lifetime, I thought surf exploration was a thing of the past.”

The things the captain of this fishing tub must’ve seen sailing these waters beggars belief. Photo: Burkard

Arc of Aleutia has only previously been available on Apple TV, but we’re hosting a one-time-only live streaming tomorrow on Stab Premium (7 pm Tuesday, March 16 PDT). If you harbour even the slightest sense of romance or an appreciation for beautiful cinematography then it’s essential viewing.

And head over to Roark to get some bomb-proof gear that kept the cast snug for their Alaskan tenure.

Comments

Comments are a Stab Premium feature. Gotta join to talk shop.

Already a member? Sign In

Want to join? Sign Up

Advertisement

Most Recent

E.A.S.T. Musician Hobo Dave’s Inspiring Journey Through Brain Injuries, Mental Illness, And Surfing

His film ‘Suburban Wilderness’ is a feel-good, core lord hit.

Jul 30, 2021

Episode 2: Vans Stab High, Central America, Presented By Monster Energy

Bring an ice pack, the space cadets have been wounded.

Jul 30, 2021

Does Anyone Else Notice This Ladybird’s Resemblance To Dane Reynolds?

Caity Simmers surfs with a familiar tenacity.

Jul 29, 2021

How Did A Billabong Logo End Up On Italo Ferreira’s Olympics-Winning Surfboard?

Clever marketing team finds legal loophole.

Jul 29, 2021

Son Of Metallica Bassist Scores 11 Year Old’s Straight Air Waco Edit

Ryji Masuda rocks and rolls in Waco.

Jul 29, 2021

Ben Howard Knifes South Coast Nuggets In ‘153624’

Ben Howard chooses the double black diamond approach to tube riding.

Jul 29, 2021

What Did We Learn From The Olympics?

The biggest takeaways from a writer who watched every single heat.

Jul 28, 2021

Covert Jr. Editor Virtually Slips Through The Heavily Guarded Gates Of Olympic Surfing

Better watch now, this won't stay up for very long.

Jul 28, 2021

Neal Purchase Jnr Shapes The Feeling He’s Searching For

Great artists hide themselves in their work.

Jul 28, 2021

You Could Fit Your Neighbor’s Sprinter Van Inside Of These Puerto Escondido Tunnels

Mexican Pipeline continues to churn out the goods.

Jul 27, 2021

Where Are We At With Sustainable Surfboards?

Hello, elephant in the room! Let's hear from some industry innovators.

Jul 27, 2021

Italo Ferreira and Carissa Moore Are Surfing’s First-Ever Olympic Gold Medalists

Here's how they won.

Jul 27, 2021

Everything You Never Knew About Italo Ferreira

A window into the gold medalist's meteoric rise.

Jul 27, 2021

John Florence Listed As Questionable For The Remainder Of The CT Season

“I’ll most likely make the decision in the next two days or so.”

Jul 26, 2021

The Flamboyantly-Dressed Man Who Got Surfing Into The Olympics Details His Experience

ISA President Fernando Aguerre opens up to Stab the day before the gold medal match.

Jul 26, 2021

Steph Falls Off Her Horse, Andino Triumphs Over John, Gabs Potentially Spells End To Jules’ Career Outside Contest Area

Big-ish waves, sharp surfing and no shortage of drama on day 2 of the Olympic…

Jul 26, 2021

Do You Talk In The Lineup?

The Misc: Half-spoken rules

Jul 26, 2021

Shizunami’s Provocative Chlorine Ramp Continues To Tempt Us

The Volcom Japan team dips its toes in the world’s most desirable wave pool.

Jul 26, 2021
Advertisement