Growing up in the rugged throws of the Basque Country can offer up all kinds of opportunity with those unique local reefs providing fine leisure time, if you know where to go. And there's more to the Basque than prime reefs, Mundaka and Zarautz and pintxos. It too is a cultural throwback to times long-gone which has transformed into a kind of new-age level of connected community, while somehow remaining both tight knit and welcoming to the travelling surfer.
The characters who have emerged out of Spain's north coast are well known; Kepa Acero, arguably the father of modern surf travel, Natxo Gonzalez, hugely establishing himself as a warrior in just about any conditions, Aritz Aranburu – perhaps one of the best surfers on the planet and a tube hound at that.
A name that may have crossed your path is Garazi Sanchez, a Basque surfer who epitomises that travel and search philosophy. Sure, Garazi may be grinding the QS at the moment, but her passion lays with exploring paths untrodden. We checked in with Garazi after she dropped this neat little cut from her travels over the past few months. Dig in.
Tell us a bit about yourself, where did you grow up and when did you learn to surf?
I am Garazi (which means Grace in basque) a basque surfer who loves the ocean and travelling. I started competing in surfing because I really wanted to know the world and now, along the way, I am trying to do my best to perform in comps, grinding the WQS and working to qualify for Tokyo 2020. I grew up in Getxo, where the skate and surf scene was new in my childhood, I loved everything about it and here I am now, travelling all around the world looking for waves.
How’s the surf scene in Spain right now? Do you still spend much time there?
Actually, the surf scene has gotten much bigger lately. So many people surfing and so many kids. I love seeing all kinds of people sharing their passion, the bad thing is there is less waves for each of us [laughs].
I don't spend lot of time at home, I am trying the QS and we spend eight months a year jumping around continents. But, it is my favourite place on the world; the food, the culture, the cities and all that nature is so close... I guess I really do love it...home.
For people who want to travel to Spain to surf, where’d you recommend to start out? The Basque has those amazing reef setups that you don't find in other places across Europe...
I am in love with Basque Country and I have to say that if you come in summer, all the north coast has plenty of beaches with so many empty waves and amazing food. Autumn? Well, you already know Mundaka, but there are plenty of reefs, not as good as Mundaka, but really fun. Galicia, Asturias and Basque country for summer, and autumn is the best season to travel.
If it’s waves and culture, San Sebastian’s great if you’ve access to a vehicle and in the evening, pintxos and txakoli! But what about further south?
South Spain is a dream when the swell gives you waves. Cadiz has amazing waves; beachies and a dreamy righthander. The good thing in Spain is that even though you're in the same country, it can feel like an entirely new place the further you travel. So many totally different cultures. I mentioned autumn but the winter is so special too. Chopitos, music on the streets and waves.
Tell us a bit about this short clip, where was it shot?
This clip is of me training this year (Oz, Zarautz, Sopelana...) and the lifestyle is in Formentera, which would be my favourite place...if you could surf.
I wanted to make something that felt different for me, the music is latín language, the lifestyle is the Mediterranean and the surf is shot in black and white. I wanted to show that we can be feminine and surf with power at the same time. I don’t know if I achieved it, but had so much fun on the way.
Surf, adventure and lots of different boards. That's it!
And what do you make of the Euro surf scene as a whole?
I think Europe has lot of talented surfers, our surf history is shorter than America or Australia but I think we are growing and stepping up.
Sometimes surfing does not get as much attention because we have so much football, tennis and athletes that make a lot of noise, you know? I love meeting surfers from northern Europe, you see their passion and their adventurous spirit. I think we have so many passionate people within this sport.
Do you think there’s still untapped kegs lying in wait for the adventurous?
For sure! I think north Europe has plenty of places with beautiful set ups, but it's cold [laughs]. Mediterranean also has lots of places with the right swell that make you think you're in a beer ad, and on a never ending summer. That's where I'm travelling to next, I guess when my competitive career loosens up.
On that note, have you any trips lined up?
Yes! It has been a long year and I want to go to Costa Rica. To surf fun waves, eat fruit and walk from my bed to the beach for two weeks. No driving, no stress about where are the best waves and ride all my different boards; twins, quads, you name it. Surf, adventure and lots of different boards. That's it!