Unexpected Spain

Article / Photo Gallery by Grant Monahan

The best things in life are unexpected, and tend to pull you away from previous plans.  I was enjoying a Guinness with Costa Rica on my mind, bags packed and ready for a 9:30 a.m. flight.  Then Will Skudin walked in…

“Grant, you want to come to Spain?  Shoot photos?”


Twenty-four hours later I was 35,000 feet above the Atlantic Ocean with the Basque Country fueling my dreams.

The coast of Europe has always been on my mind, but I had just never committed.  Now I was going with a good friend, who was competing in the Big Wave World Tour event, The Punta Galea Challenge.  Believe it or not but the swell forecast was even bigger than my dreamy expectations of Pinchos, senoritas, and perfect point breaks.

The conditions during the Punta Galea challenge, however, were far from my dreamy expectations.  Imagine the worst ESA contest you ever surfed, onshore, nowhere to line up, with a nasty current.  Now imagine doing that in 30-40 foot faces…  It was a war, man verse the all-powerful ocean.  Will surfed with authority, setting the bar early for how deep to sit, showing he had no plans of holding back. During the semi-final Will needed a 7.6 with only seconds to go.  He caught an inside buzzer beater and surfed it flawlessly, unfortunately the wave was not large enough to earn the 7.6.  Will was scored a 6.3 missing the final by just over a point.

Remember how I told you the best things in life are unexpected?  Well we forgot to set an alarm for dawn patrol the next morning.  We thought we missed the day of the year until we got on the phone with Ramon Navarro, who clued us in to a wave they were going to an hour up the coast.  As we pulled up my heart sank, we were staring at a perfect right, and the waves were 15 feet tall and 15 feet wide, grinding down a rocky point.  Epic waves, and an even more epic crew.  Will, Ramon Navarro, Grant “twiggy” Baker, Natxo Gonzalez and the rest of the local Spanish chargers were surfing it like it was a head high beach break; putting 9 foot plus boards in barrels you could drive a bus through.  What contest?  This was the true event of the trip.

I have never been to a surfing community with people so kind and welcoming.  The local people truly love surfing, even if they don’t surf.  People sat on the point all day watching the sessions, cheering for every set.  I had the pleasure of sharing a beautiful little right point with two local surfers that couldn’t be more stoked to give me a wave.  I would like to thank the entire Basque Country for all the good times, epic waves, delicious pinchos, and incredible welcoming people, rich with pride and culture.  I will be back, maybe for good…