Spanish Lines

posted by / Photos / March 16, 2011

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

The Englishman Dr. Tony Butt lives in Spain with his wife and has been charging this wave for years. He is the guy to talk to when it comes to forecasts. He’s also written two books on oceanography and surf dynamics.

The Englishman Dr. Tony Butt lives in Spain with his wife and has been charging this wave for years. He is the guy to talk to when it comes to forecasts. He’s also written two books on oceanography and surf dynamics.

Dr. T and our host, Jake, about to share some underwater time.

Dr. T and our host, Jake, about to share some underwater time.

I brought two boards to Spain, this 10’3 and a 7’6. Not your normal surf trip quiver...

I brought two boards to Spain, this 10’3 and a 7’6. Not your normal surf trip quiver...

...but it got the job done.

...but it got the job done.

We spent quite a bit of time walking through fields to get to waves.

We spent quite a bit of time walking through fields to get to waves.

Seafood soup seemed to be our staple on this trip. The weather was really cold and it was a perfect meal after surfing all day. The food over there is absolutely delicious.

Seafood soup seemed to be our staple on this trip. The weather was really cold and it was a perfect meal after surfing all day. The food over there is absolutely delicious.

We hiked in and hiked out to some pretty incredible places.

We hiked in and hiked out to some pretty incredible places.

Another epic setup. This wave is a lot bigger and further out than it looks, and the entry point is really scary. Lots of rocks and current.

Another epic setup. This wave is a lot bigger and further out than it looks, and the entry point is really scary. Lots of rocks and current.

So naturally...out there.

So naturally...out there.

This is where Dr. T told us to get in. “What about getting out,” I asked?  He said the same place. I ended up getting washed to the middle of this bay with all of the current and nearly got my ass handed to me on the rocks!

This is where Dr. T told us to get in. “What about getting out,” I asked? He said the same place. I ended up getting washed to the middle of this bay with all of the current and nearly got my ass handed to me on the rocks!

The wind would change so fast. It would go from south to howling west in a matter of minutes. Here, Jake and I are looking for a wave to come in on.

The wind would change so fast. It would go from south to howling west in a matter of minutes. Here, Jake and I are looking for a wave to come in on.

We found it...

We found it...

...and then sure enough, as soon as we got in it switched back offshore.

...and then sure enough, as soon as we got in it switched back offshore.

There are rights as well. Just not that many.

There are rights as well. Just not that many.

There's one.

There's one.

This slabbing left reminded me of a wave I surfed on Rapa Nui [Easter Island]. As I was trying to psyche myself up to go surf it, the wind clocked onshore. Probably a good thing.

This slabbing left reminded me of a wave I surfed on Rapa Nui [Easter Island]. As I was trying to psyche myself up to go surf it, the wind clocked onshore. Probably a good thing.

You can barely see me paddling out there. This was another wave that was cooking with nobody out. Jake and I had a couple of sessions alone out there.

You can barely see me paddling out there. This was another wave that was cooking with nobody out. Jake and I had a couple of sessions alone out there.

We were on a cliff here near a lighthouse. The lines went out as far as you could see and these waves were really, really big.

We were on a cliff here near a lighthouse. The lines went out as far as you could see and these waves were really, really big.

The cider capital of Spain. The trick is to pour it from high up (without looking) and drink it fast while it is naturally aerated from the pour. Good stuff and quite popular with the locals.

The cider capital of Spain. The trick is to pour it from high up (without looking) and drink it fast while it is naturally aerated from the pour. Good stuff and quite popular with the locals.

An espresso machine and tons of great wine and liquor. What more do you need?

An espresso machine and tons of great wine and liquor. What more do you need?

We found this great river mouth with nobody around and huge channel. It was big enough for me to justify trying out my big board. I got to mess around with the fins and get a feel for it before the big day. Here I am using it as a quad.

We found this great river mouth with nobody around and huge channel. It was big enough for me to justify trying out my big board. I got to mess around with the fins and get a feel for it before the big day. Here I am using it as a quad.

This guy’s wife gave me some Kale seeds for my farm. He chopped and sawed a lot of wood that day.

This guy’s wife gave me some Kale seeds for my farm. He chopped and sawed a lot of wood that day.

Long days when you’re on a short trip. You’ve got to make the most of it.

Long days when you’re on a short trip. You’ve got to make the most of it.

We had some spectacular sunrises on this trip.

We had some spectacular sunrises on this trip.

Dr. T, charging.

Dr. T, charging.

I’m lucky to get to see big waves all around the planet and am so stoked on trying out new ones. This one has some great potential.

I’m lucky to get to see big waves all around the planet and am so stoked on trying out new ones. This one has some great potential.

The tides are really dramatic over there. A wave can totally disappear in a matter of hours. I’m trying to make the most of it before it got too high and was gone.

The tides are really dramatic over there. A wave can totally disappear in a matter of hours. I’m trying to make the most of it before it got too high and was gone.

That’s a ballsy duck dive!

That’s a ballsy duck dive!

Pretty horizon, prettier foreground.

Pretty horizon, prettier foreground.

Good morning, Spain style.

Good morning, Spain style.

This blowhole was out of control.  I’ve never seen anything like it.

This blowhole was out of control. I’ve never seen anything like it.

What an amazing place Mundaka was. Here, it looks like I am stepping on the gas for that next section.

What an amazing place Mundaka was. Here, it looks like I am stepping on the gas for that next section.

I don’t even know what to say about that. I mean, how much more scenic can you get? How old is that church there?

I don’t even know what to say about that. I mean, how much more scenic can you get? How old is that church there?

 


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.

 

 

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  • Fidel Duran

    Nice portrait of our land and winter spots and nice to meet you guys. Take care. Cheers! Fidel