On a recent slab hunt to Scotland, Canadians Pete Devries and Noah Cohen scored some incredibly fun, but freezing cold, tube-to-rail-gouge setups in their new short, “Highland.” Like a couple of magicians, Cohen and Devries make the cold surf locale look equally appealing to similar setups that boast tropical water temperatures. Don’t be surprised if you find yourself checking North Atlantic swell charts and flight costs to Scotland after watching the short above, even if you’re dead set on your warm water go-to.
Cold water sadist Ben Gulliver, whose previous work includes the beautiful surf film, “The Seawolf,” and the gorgeous follow-up, “The B Wolf,” filmed and directed the short above. Photographer Marcus Paladino shot the stills from the trip below.
“As a photographer, I have exactly the same mindset as our cinematographer, Ben; there's no harm in paddling out to have a look.” Paladino says. “But as a surfer, the idea of paddling out with no guarantee of catching a wave is a mental struggle, not matter how dangerous it appears. It's all or nothing for them. Ben and I know our boundaries, as Pete and Noah know theirs. But our underlying responsibility is to encourage them to push the limits, go beyond their comfort zone and embrace the ever constant fear of the unknown. That being said, we can't push them into something that could very realistically get them hurt. It's their risk, but our reward. We had already heard stories from locals about a world famous charger who got airlifted out of the same zone, on what was rumored to be only a shoulder-high day.”
“This is my first experience in Scotland, but this is the group's third time across the pond,” Paladino says. “The so-called safety slabs seemed rather fickle this time around though, we fought against the bone chilling breeze to have a look around every nook and cranny but came up empty handed. It's almost as if Scotland was begging us to try something different. Ben continued to playfully poke the boys in a Scottish accent about having a go at our newly discovered slab and I silently agreed with him.”
“In hopes of scoring right off the bat, we pointed out the forecast flaws for the day. The wind was wrong, the swell direction was off, the tide wasn't high enough, the sets were too small, and the list went on,” Paladino describes. “Aiming for perfection is pointless since our time there was limited. You've got to work with what you've got and make the best of it. Finally Pete said the words we'd been waiting for, ‘I'll paddle out and have a look, if that's what you guys want.'”
“We excitedly encouraged this proposal and Noah decided to join and keep him company,” says Paladino. “After several minutes of investigating the take off zone and the suspiciously shallow reef, a set came through and Noah went for it.”
“My heart was pounding out of my chest as I watched him paddle into a gurgling one-foot chip shot. Noah stood tall as the the wave reformed on the reef and tripled in size over the top of him,” Paladino says. “Our hoots and hollers echoed from the top of the cliff. The previous tension is released as they continue to surf alone, finding comfort within the chaos.”
“During the last few days of the trip, Noah may not have taken the beating he originally anticipated, but two of his best boards sure did. They belong to Scotland now,” says Paladino. “Me though, the photographer, I walk away unscathed with some unique images to write home about. I hope they collectively tell a story on their own.
Devries plots his line through a small but mighty slab.
After the initial hesitations wore off, Cohen was able to dig some fins into a Scottish lip.