Calling all surf filmmakers: 1st annual Santa Cruz Surf Film Fest open for submissions

Got a film project that tells a story about surf? The first annual Santa Cruz Surf Film Festival (SCSFF) is looking for submissions from independent surf filmmakers from all over the world, with selected films slated to show at the fest’s inaugural edition this September.

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Open to both short and feature-length submissions, the festival aims to “spread the stoke that comes from a life lived in and by the waves,” by helping indie filmmakers share ideas, experiences and stories about surf. Aiming to make this a truly international event, organizers have already seen submissions roll in from as far away as Australia and South America, though they’re also looking forward to seeing films come in from local filmmakers, or which have a local focus.

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Santa Cruz Film Fest: Senegal photo by Delphine Foo Matkin

Even though this will be the SCSFF’s first year, the festival is already set to bring together not only indie filmmakers and surfers, but also surf industry pros and other ocean lovers. The judges panel alone includes top names in the industry — among them 3-time Mavericks champ Darryl “Flea” Virostko, pro big wave surfer Tyler Fox, skate legend Judi Oyama, shaper Michel Junod, and surfer/shaper/musician Ashley Lloyd Thompson.

Launched by husband and wife team Michael Matkin and Delphine Foo-Matkin, the event is the first ever of its kind in Santa Cruz — though the city’s long-standing relationship with surf culture makes you wonder why this kind of thing hasn’t already happened there before.

SCFF Founders Delphine Foo Matkin & Michael Matkin surfing at dawn photo beach
SCFF Founders Delphine Foo Matkin & Michael Matkin

The story goes that, following a two-year international surf trip together, Delphine and Micheal settled on Santa Cruz as a new home base. After 24 months and 15 countries, the duo were ready to take their love of surf culture in a new direction, with a film fest that would open audiences up to the world of surfing while also giving more exposure to independent surf filmmakers.

While all films that touch on surf and everything related to the culture are welcome, organizers say that preference will be given to “films with a narrative focus — either examining a specific element of the culture or telling a story.” Awards given will include Best Feature, Best Short, Best Cinematography, and Best Soundtrack, as well as Viewers’ Choice.

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Santa Cruz Surf Film Festival – Chicama

If you’re a filmmaker and want to submit a film or to find out about submission rules and guidelines, check out the SCSFF here. Or, if you’ll be in Santa Cruz this fall and just want to take in some really rad indie surf flicks, check out the festival itself, which runs September 24 to 26.

The deadline for all submissions is July 15, 2014.

 

Surfing UK: Coffins, a King, & the Crazy History of Surfing in Britain

What do the roaring 20s, coffins, the British monarchy, and surfing have in common? More than you think. Though the story of how surfing first came to the States is pretty well known, the history of the UK’s first wave of surfers is seldom told on our side of the pond, which is kind of a shame, since it’s so freaking nuts. It’s a good thing then that there are still old pictures kicking around that prove it all really happened.

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Cornwall early 1920s British surfing on a coffin lid

The First Wave: surfers and their stories is a new photo and video exhibit at Devon’s Museum of British Surfing. Revisiting the madness of the UK surf scene’s first steps, it brings together historic pics of the country’s early surfers — from the teenage thrill seekers of the flapper era to the Prime Minister’s personal entourage and even some royals for good measure.

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The First Wave: Surfers & their Stories – Exhibit poster

In the earliest days of the UK surf scene, Brits were still figuring out the basics. In the 1910s, modern surf boards were still almost a century away, and even the basic shaped surfboard wouldn’t hit the UK coastline for years. Instead, daredevils who got into “surf riding,” as it was then called, hopped on super basic wooden boards, like floorboards, cupboard doors, or “coffin lids,” gliding over waves on their stomachs.

Sometimes these “coffin lids” lived up to their name, as photos from the exhibit show young people in old-timey swimwear posing with boards provided by their local undertaker. But that probably just added to the cool, death-defying image of this extreme new sport.

Surfers on the north coast of Cornwall, 1919 Daily Mail UK
Surfers on the north coast of Cornwall, 1919 Daily Mail UK

By the 1920s and 30s, surfing in the UK was gaining steam, even with bigwigs. An picture from the exhibit taken in 1927 shows former Prime Minister William Gladstone with friends clutching their surfboards on a beach in North Devon.

Even more impressive, if you go deeper and delve into the museum’s archives you’ll even hit a couple of branches of the royal family tree. As early as 1920, Prince Edward (who later became King Edward VIII) got heavy into the surfing.

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Seen here: Prince Edward, Lord Louis, Prince Kalakaua Kawanakoa & Prince David

Photos of him in Hawaii are the first ever to show a Brit standing up on a surfboard, while other archive pictures show the future king hanging with friend Lord Louis Mountbatten, Hawaiian prince Kalakaua Kawananakoa, and David Kahanamoku, brother of legendary Duke Kahanamoku. With such an illustrious aficionado championing it, surfing in the UK could only swell in popularity. And by 1923, the nation would have its first official surf club, founded by Nigel Oxenden, a Birtish Army major and two-time Military cross winner who served in both WWI and WWII.

The First Wave goes on to highlight all the major milestones and pioneers in the scene in years to come — from Gwyn Haslock, the first ever woman to participate in surf competitions in the 60s, to Ted Deerhurst, the man who gave up being the Earl of Coventry so he could become Britain’s first pro surfer in 1978.

Nigel Oxenden Britain's First surf Club founded 1923
Nigel Oxenden, Britain’s first surf club founder 1923

The rise of surf culture in the UK has been so successful that, today, the industry pulls in nearly 2 billion British pounds a year. But if you want to see the unlikely (even slightly insane) origins of the now flourishing scene, devon’s surf museum is the right place to start. With vintage boards, pre-WWII surf videos, and historic pictures of crazy people riding flat, rectangular planks of wood, First Wave is probably the most complete history of Britain’s love affair with surfing.

If you happpen to be in North Devon in the UK this year, the exhibit runs until 2015 at the Museum of British Surfing. Otherwise, check them out online for a look the wild way the sport found its footing on the other side of the Atlantic.

 

“Are Your Motives Pure?” New Ray Pettibon surf art exhibit brings swell to NYC

For all of you chilling in the Northeast: you may not always find yourselves at the hub of surf culture, but a new art exhibit in Manhattan is bringing the swell to New York City. This month, in a show titled “Are Your Motives Pure?” American punk artist Raymond Pettibon displays over 25 years of surf art at New York’s Venus Over Manhattan gallery.

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Raymond Pettibon Surf Art

A California native who’s based in L.A., Pettibon is famous for his work in the punk rock world, which includes designing the iconic logo for hardcore punk band Black Flag. He’s also lent his comic book/noir style to tons of album covers over the years — gritty artwork that often includes strange and cryptic text, as in the classic Sonic Youth album cover for “Goo.”

This latest exhibit, though, is a world apart from the punker album art that Pettibon is best known for. While he doesn’t consider himself to be a surfer per se, Pettibon has spent the better part of three decades painting surfers and surf scenes. With surf art dating from 1985 to 2013, the exhibit brings together a sublime if not existential outlook on surfing.

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Are your motives pure? Exhibit NYC

Viewed from an outsider’s perspective, surfing for Pettibon seems to represent a particular philosophy or psychological state — a place for contemplation, an acceptance of the largeness of nature and smallness of humankind. Whether it’s a tiny, solitary surfer engulfed by an overwhelming blue composition, or poetic fragments and musings on the “perfection of bodily well being,” the elements that make up Pettibon’s surf art bring a new insight to the sport and its culture.

And while most of the artist’s work over the years has tended toward smaller scale black-and-white paintings and illustrations — dark, edgy stuff communicating the angst of marginalization — the surf art featured in “Are Your Motives Pure?” seems a lot more liberated, both in its use of rich color and big, sweeping scales.

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Raymond Pettibon Surf Art

Freer and more upbeat, though no less thoughtful than much of Pettibon’s other work, The New York Times Style Magazine has called the surf paintings “a slick and sunny slice of American pop culture,” while Vanity Fair is listing the exhibit as one of this month’s must-see art shows, right up there with Gaugin and Jackson Pollock.

Worth checking out whether you’re into surf, punk, counterculture, comics, or just cool art in general, “Are Your Motives Pure?” runs at Venus Over Manhattan gallery until May 17. Get the details at the gallery’s website here.

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Raymond Pettibon Surf Art

Girl’s letter to surf mag: more women surfers, please

Usually when mainstream media picks up on news within the surf scene, you don’t expect a heavy discussion of society’s ills to follow. Most times, it’s a feel-good piece, where someone’s celebrating a major milestone or launching a new project or charity — it’s all very hakuna matata.

But this week, a 13 year-old girl sent waves through the community and beyond, when an open letter she wrote to major surf mag Tracks brought up some pretty complicated issues surrounding women and their representation in the scene.

Surfer Jimena Ochoa's coverage (or lack thereof) in Stab magazine
Surfer Jimena Ochoa’s coverage (or lack thereof) in Stab magazine

Olive Bowers’ letter to the editor (which you can read here) asked what seems to be a straight-up question: why are there so many bikini models and pin-ups yet so few female surfers in your mag and on your website?

Here’s an excerpt from the letter:

I clicked on your web page titled ‘Girls’ hoping I might find some women surfers and what they were up to, but it entered into pages and pages of semi-naked, non-surfing girls [...] These images create a culture in which boys, men and even girls reading your magazine will think that all girls are valued for is their appearance.

News outlets that don’t normally follow the surf industry were quick to jump on this, with a bunch calling out Tracks for its representation of women.

Tracks magazine "vixen" spread
Tracks magazine “vixen” spread

And, while Olive’s letter did get a response from the magazine’s editor — telling her about how it was his mom who first got him into surfing and how he’d take Olive’s comments into consideration — we’re not really looking to argue whether Tracks, in particular, is in the right or in the wrong.

Instead, this whole issue gives us a pretty good jumping off point for talking about the more general way girls and women are represented in the surf scene.

Granted, there are surf mags out there aimed specifically at women and giving a lot of visibility to female surfers. But should this kind of exposure be something that happens only in particularly female publications?

Yes, we heap praise on the top female surfers like Stephanie Gilmore, Carissa Moore and others. But there’s also a lot of attention paid to female surfers who also happen to be really sexy. For this article, a Google search of “best female surfers” returned results like “10 Hottest Girls in Pro Surfing,” “Alana Blanchard and the 30 Hottest Female Surfers in Bikinis,” and our personal favorite: “The Hottest Pro Surfer Chicks That Will Make You Hate All The Girls You Know.”

Your typical female representation at an athletic event
Your typical female representation at an athletic event

And that seems to touch on the point that upset Olive enough to write a letter in the first place. There’s nothing wrong with beautiful women — either being one or enjoying looking at one is just fine. But if surf mags want to be taken seriously as industry publications, they also have to take the athletes seriously, whether they’re guys or girls. And placing a bigger focus on looks than on ability and achievement isn’t the way to go about it. In this regard, we’ve got to agree with Olive:

“I urge you to give much more coverage to the exciting women surfers out there, not just scantily clad women [...] This change would only bring good.”

We love the women who add their talent and hard work to this amazing scene and we think it’s important to send the message that they’re valued and respected for what they can do, not how they look. Otherwise, we may alienate the next generation of female surfers altogether. And what would the surf scene be like without the involvement cool and gutsy girls and women, people like Olive herself?

Olive Bowers, the young surfer who wrote the letter and inspired other girls to speak up
Olive Bowers, the young surfer who wrote the letter and inspired other girls to speak up

Bella Vita: living, and surfing, the good life in Italy

Like a really hungry North American sitting down to an Italian Sunday feast, Bella Vita, a new surf doc from director Jason Baffa, bites off a lot, and manages to chew most of it.

Following surfer, artist and environmentalist Chris Del Moro as he travels with friends to his ancestral home in Italy, the film is currently making the rounds at international film fests and just had its US premiere at the Santa Barbara Film Festival.

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Still from Bella Vita – Bogliasco bay, Italy

With a cast of characters like Dave Rastovich, Lauren Hill, and the Coffin Brothers, you may think that Bella Vita is all surf, just with a European backdrop. But the movie is anything but your average surf flick.

For starters, Italy doesn’t exactly jump out as the location for a surf doc, let alone the location to surf, period. But as Bella Vita shows us, there’s a lot more going on in Italy’s surf scene than you might expect. Here we get a crash course in Italian surf history, starting in the 60s and 70s with the country’s first shapers, all the way up to today, with surfers like Alessandro Ponzanelli and Leonardo Fioravanti, a surf prodigy who’s been winning competitions on a global level.

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Still from Bella Vita – Friends in Italy

But it’s not just the setting that makes Bella Vita a bit of a an oddball among surf films. In fact, even calling it a surf doc in the first is probably an oversimplification. Because, alongside some kicking surf footage, gorgeously shot on 35mm, Bella Vita also brings a taste of Italy’s landscapes, food and drink, art, and culture into the mix.

Here, we watch Del Moro and co. as they help out with the harvest at a Tuscan vineyard, sample authentic Italian cheese and coffee, chill with artisans and other locals, or set out to paint a mural. And that’s not even getting into the whole family memoir slash cultural rekindling thing that Del Moro’s got going on as soon as he sets down on Italian soil.

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Still from Bella Vita – Italy

 

Bella Vita‘s like a rich spread, with tons of different dishes set (not necessarily in order) on a really big table. If you’re looking for just one flavor, say, something along the lines of a pure surf film, it’ll be hard to find in such a big buffet.

But if you’re the kind who likes to pop the cork and wander slowly around the party, mingling with guests and sampling a bit of this and a bit of that, Bella Vita is a flick that’ll give you a taste for all things Italian, including the surf.

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Surfing in Italy from Bella Vita – photo by Nick LaVecchia

Waves for Water: changing the world, one surf trip at a time

It’s almost the holidays, so let’s talk giving back. For a couple years now, we’ve been following the progress of Waves for Water, a charity that saves lives just by getting the surf community to do what they love to do anyway — travel. Set up in 2009, Waves for Water’s mission is to bring access to clean water to the places that don’t have it.

Waves for Water founder Jon Rose working on the Wellness for Haiti program
Waves for Water founder Jon Rose working on the Wellness for Haiti program

So, how does the surf community fit into this plan? Partnering with Hurley, Waves for Water started the Clean Water Couriers program, where surfers act like couriers, bringing water filters with them when they travel to developing countries in search of waves.

The organization provides the filters, but leaves the trekking up to the courier: “Pack a few filters in your suitcase and either connect with local non-profits in that area or personally travel to villages to set them up yourself,” they suggest. It’s a smart and almost poetic way to give back to the places that offer us such wicked surf — offering water as thanks for waves.

Waves for Water Phillippines Haiyan relief effort
Waves for Water Phillippines Haiyan relief effort

But though the idea is super simple, it’s actually a solution to one of the biggest health threats in the developing world. The water filters they set up recently in Haiti helped to stop a cholera outbreak that had killed over a thousand and made thousands more ill. And they’ve done similar work in countries like Colombia, Sierra Leone and Liberia.

As well as spreading access to clean water, Waves for Water is also there when disaster strikes, leading fundraising initiatives to make sure that peoples’ other basic needs are met, whenever and wherever.

Waves for Water in Q'Ero, Peru
Waves for Water in Q’Ero, Peru

When the recent Super Typhoon hit the Philippines, Waves for Water quickly and urgently responded with an effort that has raised over $134,000 to date, providing as many as 20,000 people with access to clean water in the midst of this disaster. And back home in the U.S. last year, their Hurricane Sandy Relief Initiative raised over a million, helping the removal of rubble as well as rebuilding efforts.

Of course, you don’t have to be a world-traveling surfer to help Waves for Water. People can also purchase a filter, make a donation, or start a fundraiser. But for us in the surf community, becoming a Clean Water Courier is a really cool way to make the most out of the surf trips we already enjoy taking, and of turning our love for our lifestyle into love for people in need.

Waves for Water in Sierra Leone
Waves for Water in Sierra Leone

Waves for Water is one of those things that just makes you feel good to be a surfer, and we can only hope their message keeps spreading throughout the scene. As they put it: “Imagine millions of travelers doing this. Now, we’re making waves.”

Learn more about the work Waves 4 Water is doing, and about how you can help here.

 

Surf dogs: competitive dog surfing is where it’s at right now

Ready for a new form of competitive surfing that’ll make the Maverick’s Invitational look like a romp in a wading pool? Well, first things first, forget humans, because the new, most bad-ass wave in surfing is being led by a pack of dogs. Seriously, dogs.

When they’re not licking their own genitals or drinking out of the toilet, the surf world’s biggest canine competitors are diligently practising for the only surfing event that still matters — Huntington Beach’s annual Surf City Surf Dog competition.

5th annual Surf City Surf Dog competition in Huntington Beach
A competitor in the surfing with humans category. Photo: Frederic J. Brown, AFP

Here, our four-legged friends compete in a variety of styles, like: standing on a board facing forward, standing on a board facing backwards, keeping all four paws on the board, surfing with a human, and surfing with another dog. The list is endless!

The competition is actually a fundraiser, bringing in big league sponsors like Eukanuba, Purina and SONY, and benefiting a slew of animal welfare organizations. But don’t let that fool you for one second into thinking the competition’s “top dogs” aren’t one tough breed of surfer!

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Surf Dog champ Louie works hard for the win. Photo: Robert Lachman

The competition has different divisions for weight and size, as well as first, second, and third prizes for each size. Extra points are awarded for specialty moves. The whole thing’s pretty legit, even down to the fact that competitors are equipped with SONY GoPro cameras for wicked action footage. There’s also some nice congeniality awards, like “Crowd Pleaser,” a dog/owner look-a-like contest, and a costume contest — all stuff you don’t normally get outside of the dog surfing scene.

A Go Pro camera is attached to a dog competing in the surf contest.
A competitor is equipped with a SONY GoPro camera at Surf Dog 2013. Photo: L.A. Times

With all that going for it, it’s really no surprise that the Surf City Surf Dog competition is so popular; the event usually gets coverage from big name media outlets like the Los Angeles Times and The Sydney Morning Herald, which is more than can be said for some human surf competitions.

So, while dogs may not be the most graceful or dignified creatures, these days, they’ve got a leg up (two legs, actually) on boring old humans. If the internet has taught us anything, it’s that you can never, ever win against a cute animal. And, like it or not, dog surfing is where it’s at right now.

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Oh dogs, such noble and graceful animals. Photo: L.A. Times

The land of fire and ice: Russia, The Outpost Vol. 1 review

We just got a sweet late autumn treat in the form of a new DVD/book combo created by Chris Burkard and Ben Weiland. Russia, The Outpost Vol. 1 is a short surf flick, photography book, adventure tale, buddy movie, and exciting bit of travel journalism all rolled into one neat little package.

Here we follow Burkard and Weiland — along with surfers Keith Malloy, Dane Gudauskas, Cyrus Sutton, Trevor Gordon and Foster Huntington — as they venture to Russia’s remote and wild Kamchatka Peninsula, looking for the kind of surfing that few, if any, have ever experienced.

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The location is an unlikely one as far as surf destinations go. Boasting an insanely long coastline, it’s the most volcanic spot on earth, and also one of the coldest. Then there’s the fact that Kamchatka was, until recently, closed to outsiders for political reasons. All of these things have allowed this pristine yet foreboding place to remain almost completely untouched by surfers and other visitors.

But that seems to have been the main draw for Burkard, who poetically describes the “forbidden territory” of Kamchatka as “the land of fire and ice.”

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Indeed, the mythic quality of Russia’s Kamchatka starts to dawn on you as Burkard and his team pile into an old Russian military vehicle to navigate the impasses of volcanic rock and dense forrest blocking access to the coastline at most points — only in the city do roads ever lead directly to the coast.

Reminiscent of Kerouac’s On The Road, the whole thing kind of reads like a love poem to nature, freedom and the joys of leaving civilization behind. And, even as the team begins to “go native” — learning to use a fishing bow from locals, camping in the haunts of grizzly bears, and donning mud masks for a dip in natural hot springs (it puts hair on your chest) — you do find yourself getting swept up by the adventure and romance of it all.

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An ambitious multimedia project, Russia, The Outpost Vol. 1 is a work to arouse wanderlust, giving you just the slightest sense of what it’s like to be in the no man’s land of dynamism and duality that is the Kamchatka Peninsula — a place of such scale, emptiness and grand beauty that you have to ask yourself, ‘where do I even begin?’

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To order Russia, The Outpost Vol. 1 film & zine,  click here. 

Come hell or cold water: surfing in the world’s most extreme temperatures

With winter just weeks away for those of us in the Northern Hemisphere, we’ve got a long, cold season ahead of us. But, while most of us think of cold as hoodie weather, cold water surfers are taking on way more extreme temperatures than that, sometimes going as far as the Arctic Circle to catch a good wave. These are the kind of surfers who’d rather trek through snow than sand to get to a swell.

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An image taken from “Numb, Six Years of Cold Water Adventure” (Iceland)

For the uninitiated, the whole idea of cold water surfing might seem painful, even borderline crazy. But once you get a closer picture of the cold water experience, you realize there’s a fine line between balls-out insanity and blissful enlightenment. For starters, surfing in the world’s colder regions can be pretty beautiful, especially if you’re the type of wanderer who likes some solitude.

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From “Numb, Siz Years of Cold Water (rain in North Cornwall)

That wide open, empty beauty certainly isn’t lost on photographer Tim Nunn or surfer Ian Battrick; the pair’s recent photography book, Numb, chronicles their six year adventure to some of the world’s most brutally frigid surf spots, like Canada, Scotland, Iceland and Norway. Likewise, surf photographer James Katsipis’s recent Cold Water Surfer Series photo project details a winter-long season of surf in Montauk, New York.

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From James Katsipis Cold Water Surfer Series

These kinds of photo projects give you a small glimpse into just how intense, arduous, and beautiful this icy surf experience can be. But aside from the freezing or near-freezing water, these projects also chronicle some of the less obvious challenges of cold water surfing. Take a surf trip to Scandinavia, Canada or The U.K., and you can expect crazy winds, hail and sometimes even blizzards.

You’ll also need to get used to a full wetsuit, including the gloves, booties and hood. It may not feel natural at first, but without all that rubber, you wouldn’t last five minutes in that kind of water. Of course, if you stick to the warmer, more traditional surf spots, you won’t have to worry about any of that. So why cold water surf at all?

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A still from Yassin Ouhilal’s “Arctic Surf”

Well, in his short film Arctic Surf, surf filmmaker Yassine Ouhilal offers up a few good reasons. Ouhilal and his team made a point of going pretty much as far north as you can go, hitting the North Coast of Norway and even the Russian border in search of spots where nobody’s ever surfed before.

The yearning for something pristine, new and solitary has led surfers deeper and deeper toward cold waters, where they can finally and completely escape the crowds. That desire to withdraw is echoed in Katsipis’ own explanation of why he started winter surfing in Montauk:

“As my generation grew older, the town grew as well. More and more people discovered our secret paradise [...] We traded in our warm and sunny surfing season for a cold and dark one. What other option did we have?”

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Still from “Arctic Surf”

But there may even be something bigger in the lure of cold water surfing. Arctic Surf compares the surfer to the mountain climber. While, for the mountaineer, there’s an apex to be reached, a concrete point at which you succeed, with surfing, the goal is often much more vague. “Surfing is kind of a perpetual thing, you’re never going to be totally satisfied,” says Ouhilal, “it’s kind of within you to determine whether you’ve succeeded or not.”

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From “Numb, Six Years of Cold Water”

But, when you camp out in a blizzard, trek over icy mountains with your board, or paddle out into untouched waters squarely within the Arctic Circle, that’s probably the closest a surfer can ever come to that summit of Everest feeling. And as crazy and masochistic as it all sounds, it’s probably exactly what success feels like.

IT’S THAT SURF EXPO TIME OF YEAR AGAIN

Hear ye hear ye! The Eidon team is heading to Orlando, FLorida, for the upcoming Surf Expo show. Press and buyers are welcome to come by and check out our newest collection of board shorts, tees and swimsuits. See you there!

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