France

Surfer Mark Harris and the Endless Winter crew are on the road south, following the classic '60s surf road trip from Cornwall to Morocco. The result will be an online webisode series and a feature documentary that promises to be just as motivating and quirky as the first Endless Winter film.

 

With the first online episode of The Endless Winter II coming out in a few weeks, we caught up with directors Matt Crocker and James Dean to find out what we can expect from the second installment of the Endless Winter journey.

 

All stills: Lucia Griggi

The first Endless Winter film [A Very British Surf Movie], charted the history of surfing in the U.K. Why the change in direction for the sequel?

 

It’s very much the natural sequel; when we made the first film, most of the guys we interviewed told us we were going the wrong way! In the first movie, we focused on the spread of surfing from southern England to northern Scotland. While many early British surfers made the migration north looking for world-class waves on their home shore, most had the good sense to chase the sun south, through France, Spain, Portugal and into Morocco. This became the classic Euro surf trip, and it’s the trail that we’re following in Endless II.

 

As every British surfers knows, by September, Atlantic waters are beginning to turn, and the wetsuits were pretty horrific back in the '60s and '70s, so British surfers would head to southwest France for the autumn where they found warm, perfect waves, cheap wine, and bikini-clad French women. By late October, France would be getting cold, too, so they would keep going south to Morocco via Spain and Portugal. The change of the seasons also timed perfectly with the first autumn swells rolling across the Atlantic, and so a perfect surf trail was born: follow the sun, follow the swell.

 

Before setting off, we met up with Newquay shaper Chris Jones, who played a big part in the first film, and he told us of his early travels south, surfing and selling boards for Bilbao. His advice to us was simple: ”Just keep following the sun south." Those words have been ringing in our ears for the last three months, all the way to southern Morocco.

[Ireland]

Ireland
Ireland
Ireland
Ireland

So were the British the first traveling surfers in Europe?

 

No, but they were definitely at the forefront of the trail and had a big impact on the continental surfers whom they met along the way. Everywhere we’ve traveled to, we’ve heard how British surfing has impacted the continent - most notably, with Newquay’s Bilbo surfboards being the best in Europe at the time, and they were frequently used as currency by British surfers to fund their trips south. There are also many fond memories from the first European Championships in Jersey, in 1969, when many of Europe’s best surfers were brought together.

 

Surf culture came to Europe from the U.S. and Australia, and so the first traveling surfers were predominantly from those countries. By the late '60s, the likes of Wayne Lynch, Billy Hamilton, and Miki Dora had all found their way to the west coast of Europe, and their presence at spots like La Barre naturally had a huge impact on the local scene. It was the tales of wander from the Americans and Australians on the beaches of England, France and Spain that got the Europeans moving, spreading the surf bug around the continent. These tales were captured in the inspirational surf movies of the time, which were watched by hordes of British surfers in their local village halls, even though the films were generally two years out of date by the time they arrived.

[Norway]

Norway
Norway
Norway

How did the Euro surf trail start?

 

By some accounts, living in the U.S. and Western Europe in the '60s and '70s was pretty harsh for young people. There was a big expectation for young folk to go to work or go to war, especially in the U.S. Luckily, an adventurous few opted to load up the camper and hit the road for the winter instead.

 

The classic hippie trail was the overland route from Europe to Asia, passing through Turkey, Lebanon, Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan, India, and Nepal. But there was also a well-trodden route south to Morocco. The hippies of the early '60s had laid the trail for the surfers, but the surfers took the trail to a new level. They had a stronger motivation to cling to the west coast hunting out waves, and in doing so, stumbled across relatively untapped spots like La Barre, Mundaka, Peniche and Taghazout.

[France]

France
France
France

I’m guessing that a convoy of surfers traipsing around the coastline had a pretty big impact on the local scenes?

 

From what we’ve been told, the locals were pretty blown away, especially the teens and the burgeoning surfers in France, Spain, and Morocco. The traveling surfers brought surf style, fashion, music, and attitude with them. They inspired local surfers to not only get in the water, but to travel for themselves, finding their own perfect spot and experiencing foreign cultures and, in many cases, a sense of freedom that they didn’t have at home, as both Spain and Portugal were still under military dictatorships until the late '70s.

 

Have you being doing the road trip in the traditional way: no charts, no satellite navigation, no budget?

 

I would love to romantically claim that we’re doing the road trip in a 1960s style [“Only looking at the school atlas for directions, reading a couple of shared surf magazines for breaks, and watching the latest surf film in the local village hall to learn how to surf said breaks” – British surfing champion Linda Sharp], but we’re not! We’re taking on a big project that’s meant a lot of traveling and planning, so we’re playing it safe, equipped with reliable vehicles, using satellite navigation, and we’re shooting all of our new footage in 4K. Sorry!

 

Okay, so our road trip may be a 21st-century cop-out, but it’s not really about us: it’s about finding the people who first did this trip, who first found the breaks that are now world-renowned, and finding the people whom they inspired to surf and to hit the road themselves. It’s their stories and archive footage that will bring the film to life. We’re just trying to pull it all together and show off just how diverse and beautiful Europe is.

 

That said, we haven’t based our shoot dates on the charts. We’ve just hit the road and gradually made our way south, spending time with the right people to get a sense of each individual surf scene. Some spots we’ve scored, some we’ve missed, but that would have been the nature of the beast back in the day.

 

The wonder of shooting in this way was turning up at a spot when it was pumping, and nowhere was this more amazing than at Mundaka. We rolled into Europe’s most celebrated surf town in April - almost two months later than we planned, so surely we’d missed the winter swells? Nope, we landed just as the best swell of the year rolled in, and the icing on the cake was that it was also Kepa Acero's homecoming. We had arranged to meet Kepa at the Bilbao bus station as he returned from his latest adventure in the Galapagos Islands. We met up with him, got some sleep, and then woke up to two days of pumping Mundaka, a dream situation and one that had us all grinning from ear to ear for the next five days. Just a little slice of what the early surfers felt when they rocked up at a new and unknown spot when it was firing, no doubt, but we’ll take it.

[Portugal]

Tiago Pires
Portugal
Marlon Lipke
Portugal

Mark Harris is the lead character in the film. Why Mark?

 

Mark, or "Igor," is not only one of Britain’s best surfers; he’s also one of the most charming, humble and likeable guys you’re likely to meet. Mark knows a lot about European surf history, knows everyone, and was part of the golden era of European groms. For him, this trip comes with the additional incentive of meeting up with his childhood friends from the European junior tour - guys like Kepa Acero, Miky Picon, Marlon Lipke, and Tiago Pires, visiting their home breaks and flying the flag for European surfing.

 

Mark’s also spent the last ten years searching for new waves in the North of Britain, and he looked to score some un-surfed European spots in the final sequence of the film.

 

Who’s traveling with Mark?

 

He’s been flying solo at times, but in each key region, he’s picking up a local surfer who introduces him to the local legends and helps with translation and the odd cultural confusion. Again, Mark’s packed-out phone book has come in handy, and we’ve seen him team up with Pauline Ado, Kepa, Nic Von Rupp, Abdel El Harim, Easkey Britton, and Marlon Lipke.

[Spain]

Spain
Spain
Spain
Spain
Spain
Spain

What are you hoping to say with this film?

 

It’s a celebration of surf-traveling culture that’s still alive and well today, but mostly it’s a celebration of Europe as an insanely diverse continent.

 

I didn’t actually know until we started our research that Europe is the second smallest continent in the world, even including Russia, which takes up 40%. But as a continent, it has diversity like no other. Mark’s journey from England to southern Morocco took him a 'mere' 2,500 miles (far less than driving the full east coast of Queensland), but in that distance, he experienced five different languages, and cultures that are worlds apart. Europe’s diversity also extends to its seas and oceans. The Atlantic has giant, powerful waves and is the lifeline of European surfing. Then you have the glamorous Mediterranean, the North Sea, and the Baltic Sea, all producing amazing waves.

 

This diversity is what has made Europe a playground for travelers and surfers for over 50 years, and the journey of exploration is far from over. What’s exciting today is that surfers can explore all corners of the continent, as sea temperature is no longer an obstacle. While the film predominantly charts the classic road trip south, we explored Europe’s lesser-known surf regions. But, fingers crossed, we also looked to score some undiscovered world-class waves.

[Morocco]

Morocco
Morocco
Morocco
Morocco