Spanish Lines

A recent incursion uncovers tall waves along the cold and rugged coast of northern Spain.


Words by Kohl Christensen
Photos by Jeff Flindt


This La Niña season has been anything but a dud. Unknowns are getting kegged at Pipe because the boys are so jaded from months of epic surf that to paddle out in less than perfect conditions seems like too much work. Danilo gets a bomb at Jaws. Hawaii has had some of the best medium-sized surf that I can remember, and now, big blobs in the Atlantic. The Pacific settles down for one day and — boom! — the other side of the world is about to pump. It’s a change of pace and a chance for me to look for some big surf in Europe.

I’d heard of Mundaka, of course, but new very little about northern Spain. I didn’t know we would be surfing in front of whaling towns built in the 1200s or that if I hadn’t brought my heaviest winter gear thanks to a previously planned snowboard trip, I’d have frozen my ass off. The countryside was blustery and cold and full of heavy setups. In the north it’s all up to you and your much needed local guides (thanks T and Jakoba) to find waves. You’d be hard pressed to find anybody to surf with and can easily find yourself in some pretty heavy situations. I was blown away by how windy and raw the coastline was. We looked at this slab that reminded me of a wave on Rapa Nui [Easter Island], with all the power and wind on it. I got scared.

On the best day we joined a crew of about nine locals and paddled this big left. It had been towed a bit and paddled a handful of times over the years but this was by far the largest crew on it yet. The boys are over towing and super stoked on paddling. They are just sorting out their equipment and most of them were undergunned but to see them out there charging kind of summed up what these last couple years have been like for me — paddling is cool again. And it is really cool in Spain.