Mick Fanning’s latest discovery of a fast, hollow right hand pointbreak set the net on fire. While it looks an awful lot like Ben Bourgeois’ Caribbean dream, Mick and those he was with are keeping their mouths shut. All we know is that he’s in trunks, it’s a sandbottom point and he looks really, really happy.
So, the wave got me wondering…where is left to explore? Where do we think the most potential lies to stumble on our own unsurfed, perfect break?
Even into the ’90’s, perfect waves were being discovered all the time. The boat brigades in Indo and the Mentawais got heavy towards the latter half of the decade, but there was still room to move further into the unknown if you had the time and money. In fact, the Marshall Waves Experience website, which profiles Martin Daly’s MV Indies Trader vessel, notes the boat made one hundred new wave discoveries between 1998 and 2005 alone. One Hundred!
On the flip side of the comfort meter in the ’80’s and 90’s, the magazines–Surfer, in particular–sent intrepid surf explorers to the frigid regions of Antartica, Alaska, Russia and Norway to see what they could find. They were given helicopters, snowmobiles, monster snow trucks, snow shoes and heated 7 mil wetsuits and told to jump into empty line-ups with unknown currents, territorial sea lions, orcas and the occasional great white, in the name of discovery. A few gems were uncovered, but overall, the juice was nowhere worth the squeeze, as it was in the tropical new frontier Daly was scouring.
And then there was Skeleton Bay on the edge of the Namibia desert. It’s perhaps the longest, hollowest left in the world, in the most inhospitable place possible, and was uncovered by an average surfer using Google Maps. No backpacks, boat trips, walks through the jungle, snowmobiles or seaplanes. All it took was a computer.
So, where is the next great wave that’s presently peeling off with lonely perfection? No doubt, Indonesia, Sumatra, the Phillipines, etc hold a trove of waves with possibilities still around some corners. But with dozens of fleets and surf camps posted up on the fringes of island jungles, the discoveries will most likely enjoy a crowd in short order. Places where the desert slams headlong into the ocean like it does in Namibia are intriguing. Baja and Western Australia have certainly showed the possbilities. Discovery has been slow in these areas because of the arduous travel and need to cart in every single thing necessary to survive. As a result, the depths of exploration are typically kept to within strikable miles. But maybe there are other Skeleton Bays out there.
My money though is on the colder climates. People just don’t want to deal with all the neoprene, so crowds will almost never be a factor. Also, the weather is volatile at best. The old saying for these areas is true, “if you don’t like the weather, wait five minutes”. It’s hard to get stormy, cold places good when conditions can change minute to minute. And because of the global positioning to the extreme north or south, the tides are a huge factor. Nova Scotia, for example, has 35-40 foot tidal swings within a 6 hour period. Breaks either get swamped with the high tide or decimated with the low. I’ve had dream sessions vanish with the rising tide and missed epic waves by an hour because too much water flooded the reef. The cold places will always be hard to get good. But you can play the conditions if you’re dialed in. You can often survive off the land if need be. And so little of the cold climates have been explored that the potential is still there. Cold places aren’t easy, but looking back over my travels, most of my best sessions in empty waves were when the ocean temps were below fifty.
So, what do you think? Without showing your hand on some undiscovered gem you’ve got under wraps, where do you think the most potential lies for virgin surf spots? And if you draw a map, I’ll buy the beers.