Visit to Praia do Norte

Praia do Norte has already established a name for itself among the surfing world. The Portuguese beach made headlines around the world when american surfer Garrett McNamara surfed the biggest wave ever: a wall of water with 90 feet.

Nowadays, Praia Norte has become something of a surfing Mecca in Europe, with hundreds of people visiting the place every weekend. This week we made the trip ourselves and give you the account with a detailed photo gallery.

The  lighthouse featured in the now famous Garrett Mcnamara´s surfing picture
The mentioned photo
The same photo on the frontpage of the London Times
Close to the lighthouse, a van displays images of the big rides
The best part was seeing the enthusiasm of local families
Praia do Norte beach - a hill separates the main city of Nazaré and the famous beach.
The lighthouse seen above resides on the top of that hill.
The powerful Atlantic Ocean. This is the view you have from the lighthouse.
Farol, portuguese for lighthouse
Close to the lighthouse, you can get very close to the sea.
The waves were not as huge as when Garrett broke the world record,
nonetheless the power of the water was something of great beauty to observe.
Another view of Praia do Norte, close to the lighthouse.
A sunny day over Nazaré. It is a tourist-friendly fishermen´s city


Surfing in Iceland

This blog has a thing for unusual ways of surfing. Anyone remembers those dudes that surfed with wooden boards, the long waves of River Kampar in Indonesia or the balls of steel that it takes to surf in the gelid ocean waters of Alaska?

The surfing world will never cease to surprise us, and this week Ian Battrick brings you the amazing adventure of surfing in Iceland. From the same country that elected a comedian mayor for its capital and brought us thing like Lazytown or Bjork, we present you one of the surfing world best kept secrets: the ice cold waves of the arctic.

But remember: if you wanna give it a try dont forget the thick wetsuit.

Ásatrú, surfing & camping in Iceland with Ian Battrick from Ian Battrick on Vimeo.


Interview with Finian Pye (Director of the movie The Endless Wave)

It is probably the most famous urban wave in the world. The Eisbach River in Munich is for surfers in Germany what Hawaii represents for americans in the U.S. However there are some big differences: you won´t see tanned broads or sandy beaches in Munich. Located  in the middle of the bavarian capital, the Eisbach River is the place where river surfing goes to a whole other level.

"The Endless Wave" is the flick that documents this amazing alternative to the sport we all love. We interviewed its director, Finian Pye and got a great insight about the work of a surf movie director that we all should keep an eye on for the future.

Great Surf Movies: Tell me about the process of filming The Endless Wave. What equipment did you use and what filming techniques did you employ? 

Finian Pye: I used a Panasonic SD900 to film "The Endless Wave". What was important was to get shots of all sides of the Wave to create a bubble of the environment for the viewer to get a sense of the environment this special place was being filmed in. For me the slow mo shot was a giver as it is for the surf film, genre defying and in this case you you really get a feel of the strength of this river which I believe flows at 30 cubic metres per second. Most of the film was shot hand held, although I did use my tripod for a few shots.

Editing on Premier Pro took me about 5 weeks, I am known for working long long hours on my films, in this case I would work on it for a day or two and then leave it for three or so days so that when I came back to editing a could have a step back from my work so I could see what needed to be improved. I personally think sound is very important to the film. You can have bad shots but well recorded sound and still have a pleasant result. I found the sound the hardest to edit as in various shots you have the sound of the wave at noticeably different levels, and these needed to match to make the film flow throughout.

The end result exceeded my expectations. I then sent the film to some old teachers and friends to critique and then worked on what I could before officially releasing it on the 14th of October. It was a great little project to work on and the reception and kind words I have recieved has far exceeded my expectations.

GSM: How did you get to know Munich´s fantastic urban wave and what do you had in mind when shooting the flick?

FP: My mother is from Munich, I am fluent in German and go to the city two or three times a year, and see the city as my second home. The Eisbach is near the famous Haus of Kunst (House of Art) and the first time I saw was about 8 years ago. I was amazed, I didn't know river surfing existed in Munich, which is far away from the nearest beach!
 I was with my photo-keen Mum at the time and that was the time she took the photos you see in the film. Since then whenever I have been about I have spent a fair amount of time sitting by the side and watching the surfers. Its incredible what they do on that Wave, as the surfers have adapted to their environment. What struck me is how small a space they have to use whereas the sea gives you an enormity of space to manoeuvre. I had wanted to make a wee film on the Eisbach for at least a year before I actually filmed it.I knew what kind of shots I wanted and what questions I wanted to ask the surfers but didn't plan it beyond that. I just rocked up with the ideas in my head, hoping that there would be some people surfing there. I told people I was making a short film, though a fair few didn't want to be interviewed or didn't feel it was appropriate as they were not actually from Munich.
 Had there not been any surfers I would have come back the next day, but as it was late August I was sure that there would be. I didn't know any surfers there so couldn't pre arrange anything which was unlike every other film I have made! It was actually quite refreshing taking this approach as it was a step into the unknown, though could have been a failure!

GSM: How did you get started in directing?

FP: I had always been into films and its processes. I did film studies in sixth form and my first films where "film noir" trailers we made. At the University of the West of England I then studied joint history and media and cultural studies, specialising in film.

 Outside of uni I was practising my art of filming using my 6 megapixel samsung camera then editing on windows movie make. Initially I made music videos performed by me and my friends. I was never shy to show them and I learnt my basis of practise and directing my own films. This helped me prepare for the enormity that was really my final year uni project, an anthropological film on students which took my filming to a new level.

I have always been keen for extreme sports especially surfing so I guess directing a surf film was the next step for me and a path I will continue pursue, for now as a hobby, maybe one day as a profession but either way I will be a happy man. 

GSM: What are your favourite surf movies?

FP: The inspriation for my film was from watching Bjorn Richie Lobs (2009) film "Keep Surfing", for me that was quite an amazing cinematic experience as it combined my favourite city with my favourite sport! Really worth a watch as Munich has a unique surf culture unlike the most famous surf spots and towns. I showed many to many of my mates, but very few understood the German it is mainly filmed so I thought making a short English language film would be a cool project.

As you may have guessed from my film title The Endless Summer (1966) is one of my favourites. Bruce Brown's commentary throughout instills a warmth that only David Attenborough has been able to create for me so far, and depicts the sport in its rawest form, before all the sponsorship hype. I also love the intensity of the colour in which the film was produced back then. Bruce Brown has already created an inspiring moment for my next film project.

GSM: Do you have already a project for a future movie? If so, tell us about it.

FP: In the new year I will be commencing my new film in West Cornwall. My brother lives down in Penwith and he and a few mates are going to come down with me and shoot. Planning is already underway and we will have more cameras, go pro cameras and I'm looking forward to getting in the water,  in with the action,to film this time. Surf conditions should be good that time of year and I am taking in all the feedback from The Endless Wave to put all my creative energy make this next one as engaging as can be.

GSM: What makes in your opinion a great surf movie?

FP: I think what is important is to give the viewer a sensation of where they are. Whether it is the small spot like the Eisbach or a vast sprawling coastline in western Australia you need to give the viewer a chance to see their surroundings. Chances are that the viewer will never actually see the place you have filmed. I always like to see interview footage with those who surf or habitat the location as their words can mean as much as the images to convey the film.

GSM: What kind of advice do you have for someone who wants to start directing a surfing movie?

FP: I guess a an individual passion to make the film as good as you can, and to get some friends who are keen to be aboard your project. Be inspired and above all have fun! Make it for the love of filming and surfing rather then for profitable gains.


Joel Parkinson gets in altercation with bodyboarder

Things are getting heated up in Portugal. The world´s best surfers are currently competing on the waves of Peniche, Portugal, for the last European leg of the ASP World Tour, but the last events have been of trouble for two of the world´s surfing superstars: Kelly Slater and Joel Parkison. Both surfers habe been involved in two minor altercations.

The first incident involved Kelly Slater. The american all-time record champion changed some heated words with a photographer after almost running him over.

The second altercation got a bit more serious. Joel Parkinson got almost physical with a local bodyboarder. Next time Parko should be more careful, Peniche surfers are known in Portugal for being ferociously hostil to any non locals. Local elitists of that small fishing city can indeed ruin all the fun.


Sustainability in boardsports

     Not every surf movie is about great surfing manoeuvres or monster waves, there is a type of movie - let´s call them meta surfing movies - that care about every other aspect that concerns the sport, be it the training, the daily life of the surfers, or, in the case of today´s movie, the sustainability of it. 

    The "3 weeks, 3 boards, 3 friends" project (abbreviated to 3fwb), made three surfers come together in order to "document the lifestyle, the adventure and the passion of travelling" in three different sports: snowboarding, skating and surfing. Matze Reif, Benno Postert and Maximilian Meisberger took a three week trip, documenting their experiences on concrete, snow and water and presenting their discoveries and experiences on a weekly web episode.  

    The fifth web episode of the first season, called "Sustainability in Boardsports" is particularly interesting to the world of surfing. It consists on an interview with Tony Butt, author of the book "Guide to sustainable surfing" and discusses the ecological footprint surfers leave and suggestions for more sustainability in the world of boardsports. An interesting view.


The best of 50 years of wipeouts

Over recent years the Style Evolution Project (SEP) has made a notorious contribution in recovering what we could call "lost" surf movies - "surfing footage that is becoming rapidly unavaible due to new video formats". This video in particular compiles 50 years of the most amazing surfing wipeouts ever recorded on tape.

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