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Three days of free thinking about surfing

World Surf Culture Gathering at Sagres

Andrew Kidman, Rusty Miller and João Rei jamming at the end of the Garden Talk on Sunday (®PauloMarcelino)
Andrew Kidman, Rusty Miller and João Rei jamming at the end of the Garden Talk on Sunday (®PauloMarcelino)
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The fifth edition of Sagres Surf Culture brought to the Algarve some of the most influential figures of the global surf culture. Rusty Miller, Andrew Kidman, Chris Hines, Júlio Adler, Sancho Rodriguez, Sandow Birk and Wolfgang Bloch were the guests for three days of sharing experiences and their view about surfing with the public at the village of Sagres. Surfing is more than a sport; is an art form, a way of being in tune with nature, with ourselves and the others. This was the message of the ‘Influences’ event, a rare opportunity to broaden the horizons of the mind.

The event took place at Memmo Baleeira Hotel, on 26 to 29 May. Photo exhibitions by several authors, including images with History captured by ‘surf legend’ Rusty Miller; exhibition of paintings by Sandow Birk and Wolfgang Bloch, live music at an outdoor venue saturday night, with Sam Alone & The Gravediggers, The Fellow Man and Storm & The Sun; a ‘workshop’ on wooden surfboards with José Antunes and his Yoni EcoSurfboards, lectures and film screenings, short films selection of SAL – Surf at Lisbon Film Fest, the historic ‘Morning of the Earth’ (1971), with the surfer Rusty Miller ‘ on deck’; and the exquisite ‘Litmus – A Surfing Odyssey’ (1996), presented by the director himself, Andrew Kidman.

>Sancho Rodriguez, Chris Hines, Andrew Kidman, Wolfgang Bloch, Rusty Miller, Sandow Birk e Júlio Adler (®PauloMarcelino)

>Sancho Rodriguez, Chris Hines, Andrew Kidman, Wolfgang Bloch, Rusty Miller, Sandow Birk e Júlio Adler (®PauloMarcelino)

The content – all of it free – offered more than enough reasons to celebrate the spirit and surf culture, but the lectures with de international guests, their emotional sharing, created at this Sagres Surf Culture edition unique moments of great intellectual and emotional delight. “The human side of the guests was a revelation. The lectures had very interesting contents, but with a special chemical relation between audience and speakers. I am very pleased with the whole dynamic of interaction; above my expectations”, said the event organizer, João Rei, to Swell-Algarve.

The 5th annual edition of Sagres Surf Culture was an anniversary edition, entitled ‘Influences’. “It was the international edition of Sagres Surf Culture. This year, with the collaboration of the Municipality of Vila do Bispo we had conditions for this to happen”, said João Rei.

João Rei, founder and director of the Sagres Surf Cultura annual event (®PauloMarcelino)

João Rei, founder and director of the Sagres Surf Cultura annual event (®PauloMarcelino)

All international invited lecturers are surfers and influential figures in specific areas of activity: Briton Chris Hines, environmental activist and founder of the movement Surfers Against Sewage; Ecuadorian Wolfgang Bloch, an artist known for the chromatic placidity of its marine-inspired paintings; US / Australian Rusty Miller, a surf living legend; the American contemporary artist Sandow Birk, Brazilian journalist Júlio Adler, the multifaceted artist Andrew Kidman, north-american director, musician, writer and ‘shaper’; and the organizer of the Surfilm Festibal, Basque Sancho Rodriguez.

Days of sharing amongst freethinkers, culminating in a casual conversation at the hotel’s garden, on sunday late morning. Competition in surfing is secondary and that was a key common element at the Garden Talks. “In the UK we have a championship to choose the worst surfer. It is good to celebrate normality”, said Chris Hines.

Chris Hines, Andrew Kidman e Wolfgang Bloch (®PauloMarcelino)

Chris Hines, Andrew Kidman e Wolfgang Bloch (®PauloMarcelino)

One of the conversation brought up themes was artificial waves, now in vogue because of Kelly Slater initiative. “I’m not interested in surfing chlorine. It bothers me to be on a tube for 50 seconds. Perfection is elusive and that’s why I go to the beach every day“, commented Sancho Rodriguez. “Frustration and unpredictability are two important features in the surf”, added Júlio Adler. “The genie is out of the bottle and it will happen. But the waves parks run on fossil fuels. If they are not ecologically sustainable, no surfer must go there”, said Chris Hines.

The Ecologist proved quite interventionist in defending the ecological ‘foam’ for surfboards. The raw material has not entered the market because the boards end up being yellow. ‘Shaper’ Álvaro Costa, from Polen Surfboards, was in attendance and emphasized that the ecological ‘foam’ also causes fluctuation and vibration problems in the boards.

Casual talk between lecturers and public at the Memmo Balleira Hotel garden (®PauloMarcelino)

Casual talk between lecturers and public at the Memmo Balleira Hotel garden (®PauloMarcelino)

“The boom of Surf in Europe produced many ‘wanna be'”, said Álvaro Costa, highlighting the problem of the recreational surfer looking for surfboards influenced by performance surfing for competition. The industry lives on that influence and the ‘green foam’ is more expensive. “True, but I have clients who seek it”, countered the ‘shaper’ from the Algarve Uwe Kluba, who was also in attendance.

Andrew Kidman is also ‘shaper’ and has an opinion on the industry. “I make boards and I feel offended by the mass production of boards because they are of poor quality. When I shape my surfboards, I build them to last a lifetime”, said the American. More conciliatory and on top of his 73 years of age, Rusty Miller concluded: “Less than 10 percent of all the surfers are in competition. We can tolerate the high performance sensibility and eliminate those defects at the free surfing level”.

The Garden Talk is the closure for every Sagres Surf Culture editions (®PauloMarcelino)

The Garden Talk is the closure for every Sagres Surf Culture editions (®PauloMarcelino)

But, after all, what is surf? Again, the wise words of Rusty Miller, his broad historical experience, gave a response that allows us to think. “I was 13, living in Sacramento, California, and I would go and see Phill Edwards making his own surfboards. He told me that surfing is not sport; it is an art form. We were in 1961 and he also said that surfing was becoming to much commercial”. Phil Edwards is considered one of the best surfers of all time, the first to complete a wave at Pipeline and at the time had a brilliant career in competition … but it was making his own sufboards and saw more art then competition in the waves.

About the crowds in the line ups all agreed that the biggest problem is not too many surfers, but lack of education in the water. For those who still defend a certain ‘localism’ legitimizing the right of the competent surfer to the best wave, Andrew Kidman countered: “To see a beginner on his feet trying to maintain balance on a big wave, or in a tube, is a great joy to watch. It may be the wave of his life”.

Rusty Miller, "72 and half" years old, 62 surfing years, a living world surf legend (®PauloMarcelino)

Rusty Miller, “72 and half” years old, 62 surfing years, a living world surf legend (®PauloMarcelino)

At the end of the Garden Talk, the Swell-Algarve questioned Rusty Miller on his advice to the young and for those who are now starting to surf. “To the 30 years old surfers I say that they have more half a century of surfing ahead, if they take care of their body and mind. To the younger now starting to surf I ask to be gentle on the water, to share waves, follow the example of surfers with good reputation and celebrate the waves of the others”. Words from a surfer with 63 years of waves. ‘Respect’.

 

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