Only 90 miles separate Cuba from American soil, but immeasurable ideological differences have kept Cuba a relatively unattainable surf destination for American surfers. Last December, in the midst of peak Hawaii season, Ian Walsh traveled to a small village on the northeast tip of Cuba. Not knowing what to expect, Walsh discovered an empty cobblestone pointbreak and that the universal nature of surfing can transcend politics.
With progression inevitably comes exclusion. Things are left behind, and we seldom stop to look back. We’ve moved on. Progressed. Matured, maybe. But nostalgia creeps in the wake of what was lost, and we become curiously aware of something missing. Pick any of the best modern films and you’ll see the same phenomenon: Bottom turn to air. Bottom turn to air. The occasional pump into a barrel. Bottom turn to tail throw. Cue lifestyle shot. Nobody’s paddling anymore. Nobody’s taking off, dropping in, linking maneuvers, or kicking out. It’s all been left on the cutting room floor. Deemed unnecessary. We never get to see that moment when the wave stacks up and the surfer decides to go for it. The complete ride in surf films is on the verge of extinction.
According to Chris Christenson, shaper to the big-wave elite, there is no greater influence on modern gun design than the waves themselves. “With each spot, you’ve got a new set of factors that the equipment needs to compensate for,” says Christenson. “You have to take everything into account, because at the end of the day you’re basically building parachutes—they just have to work.”
Week In Review
Week In Review
Delirium: An interview with Brazilian filmmaker Pablo Aguiar.
The aerial renaissance of surfing has arrived, but at what price?
The Celtic Slab
Tom Lowe on charging Ireland's heaviest tubes.
Best Foot Forward
Switching your stance could make you a better surfer, and prevent injuries.
Brazilian Wax Appeal
The secret to aerial surfing may fit in the palm of your hand.