The Art of Watching Waves - Part I
By Axel Örn Jansson
Obsessions are found everywhere around us – some days I stare for countless hours on my phone – mostly scrolling and clicking through mindless and meaningless entertainment – draining my head of serotonin – by reacting like a salivating dog – to a tasty treat – when receiving notifications. Why stare at a screen all day when you could be staring at the sea, I’m asking – searching for waves? Yeah fair enough – staring at waves won’t make you any money – it’s not going to get you any social points with friends or family – and you could definitely be spending your time fixing your car, doing the laundry, playing video games, baking cakes and watching Netflix. But, I’d like to convince you that it’s still worth considering wave watching as a pastime.
This article is dedicated to the obsessive search for waves and when found – staring at them relentlessly. Not like you would stare at a romantic partner – no, rather like you would stare at a person you have been stalking (though be advised, we do not condone that). You have been gathering every possible information you could find about the person in advance and then you see them in the park - in the perfect evening lighting – you see them in their most beautiful dress – dancing in the wind – and you just can’t stop thinking of them. It’s a form of lust – at first – then – obsession.
I just got my coffee at the gas station leading up to a surf spot. Been driving for a while, craving coffee, but saving myself for the moment. It’s essential to have a large cup when staring – that has become my ritual at least. Arriving at the spot – I get my wax out and smell coconut - think of palm trees and warm sand. Outside though – the wind is howling in a language I haven’t deciphered and the weather changes every time I blink. Coffee – obsessively drinking, while looking at the white and wet offshore crown of the waves that are arriving at the point break. Winds, currents, tides and swell. It’s a dance, where the final act is surfing.
One moment you are watching the waves by yourself – the next you might see a van pulling up beside you – bottles of beer and clouds of smoke pouring out of the side door – and a silhouette running past you – like a bee, attracted to pollen – buzzing from flower to flower putting in the work – like the industrialist toward the unmined and unmonetized natural resources – like the apple falling to the ground – a force of nature, stronger than any common sense.
It is also easy to get enough of all the nature perversion and romanticized rhetoric when in essence it can all be a masquerade, an often cheap mask, to put some meaning into the force of escapism that begets some surfers.
There is one place in Iceland where, when that occasional swell hits, people arrive from near and far – south – north and west to stare at the waves. Like the Sunday market, people gather to socialize, show off their boards or campervans, newly upgraded interiors, DIY projects and what not. A zoo of mostly endangered animals trying to fit into a different kind of society, one where their eccentric nature and idiosyncrasies are valued and not suppressed. And of course it also draws with it the expanding phenomena of crowded line-ups – lizards and monkeys alike. While the mood out of the water is relaxed and mostly joyful – in the water it can turn into chaos – where the code of the road, the general surf etiquette is being challenged.
´´With this online magazine we want to add to a thriving surf, ski and snowboard culture in Iceland while respecting the etiquettes. We want to share stories, photos and local knowledge that can help this culture flourish even more – respectfully and sustainably.
It’s about finding the spots on your own – not just finding them on the internet – figuring out the waves dynamics and showing nature the respect it deserves.´´