A Living Surf History of Spain


Curators Jaime and Felip – 100 years of surfing in northern Spain

It was in the Museo Marítimo in Bilbao one week ago. Jaime Izquierdo and Felip Verger, the two all-things-surfing-entrepreneurs from Golfo Atlántico at the entrance door waiting for us. We came a little late. Construction in Bilbao and out of date GPS maps do not like each other. At the entrance door to the right: a poster with a promising key visual and the headline: 1912 – 2012 Exhibition A Century of Surf. The pic on the poster was one of the most iconic surf pics taken in Spain: it showed the magical left of Mundaka back in the 1980s.

Tres60 – a magazine and its colorful history

Jaime and Felip are the curators of the most comprehensive exhibition about surfing history in Spain. From the very first beginnings in the early 1960s to the latest developments of the Basque Wavegarden project the exposition shows a vivid culture growing over the last five decades.

A story starting at different places at the same time

“One remarkable fact about the birth of surfing in Spain is that it did start more or less simultaneously at different spots in different regions. At the beginning the pioneers didn’t know each other, they did their own thing no matter if it was planking or the surf with poorly done homemade plywood boards”, Felip sums up the very start for us. Foam for proper boards and shaping know-how were a scarcity back then. Wetsuits? If there was something you could call a wetsuit then it was a thick diving suit.

The wall of surf history

A board with no name

One of the absolutely first Spanish surfers is meant to be Jesús Fiochi whose story struck us with curiosity: Buying a Barland surfboard in Bayonne/France back in 1962 he came back to Cantabria rubbing of the logo telling everybody he ordered it in Australia. Surfing Sardinero Playa in Santander, one of the first beaches to be surfed in Spain, the “loco” gained a lot of attraction and people wanted to know more about that strange glider in the water. One of those people was Juan Giriber, our charming protagonist of our first OldYoungSea teaser. But this is another story to be told in a few months…

Besides tons of fantastic archive pics, stories from witnesses and facts about the evolution of surf and surfboards and also the whole competition thing there was another intriguing and sticky part in the exhibition: Jaime was collecting and recovering original surf footage from the 1960s until now over a period of many months. It is the ordinary people’s videos they put together into a ramble through the best waves of the early surfer’s live.

The primo spots of northern Spain

Why 1912?

You might have regognized that the exhibition announces 1912 – 2012  Exhibition a Century of Surf. But above we were just talking about the 1960s to be the pioneering years. So how come? If you dig deep in surfing’s history book you might come across a Señor Ignacio Arana, consul of Spain in Hawaii, who is said to have taken back home a surf board and the book “The Surfriders of Hawaii” that marked the very first surfing experience.

The book on surfing the Spanish consul on Hawaii brought to Spain

The first wetsuit?

Strolling around in the exhibition for a few hours, we figured that Jaime and Felip did a great job. If you have the chance you should rather visit the museum!