It was right after the first winter storm of the season hit Gijon: A couple of guys were out there surfing the infamous break of El Mongol, a sometimes wedgy, sometimes clean but always very demanding in-city point break on the eastern end of Gijon’s vast bay. Among the surfers was Dani, owner of Skool Surf, with some of the Gijon local crew. But there was also an unknown face (probably only partly visible because of his impressive beard) out there with the locals: Ryan. Facing the difficult conditions with ease he was stylishly shredding the big surf of El Mongol. We had a hard time filming the boys out there: wind, rainy and misty weather doesn’t make for many clean shots.
Gijon fully on after the first winter swell coming through
After a while the break – like it always does – became pretty rocky and shallower with every minute. Time to go out boys! But not an easy task – it’s an exit the El Mongol style you know? Backwash, rocks in your way to the save paseo and a lot of moving water. Some of the locals did not seem very comfy after getting smashed to the rocky walls of the Paseo Maritimo. Was there a scared face we were looking into? Everybody made it and came safely out of this hell of a spot exit. But were was Ryan? He was the last man standing in the water leaving the soup last. With a smile on his face. “Isn’t it scary to exit the wave?” we asked Ryan. “No, not really”, says an obviously happy blonde man with a strange accent but perfect English. “You just have to stay calm in the deeper water and wait for your moment”. Aha. Easy. Okay. “Where are you from and why are you here?” was our next silly question automatically coined because of rising curiosity. “I am a surfer from South Africa. I am on a road trip along the coast”. That was the beginning of a friendship. We stayed in front of our 6th crew member.
Ryan @ Rodiles – A Fun Wave’s Afternoon
Ryan Lee, originally from South Africa, spent the last couple of years working as a sailor and first mate on big luxury boats in the Mediterranean. He was just visiting a colleague in Santander and got caught by the European Surf Road Trip Virus accidentally. But when we met him he was actually pretty sick of traveling. Travelling alone and sleeping every night in a tiny van. “Sometimes the van feels like a coffin”. He was about to stop his trip along the coast (he wanted to make it all the way down to Portugal) getting an earlier flight back to Africa. A few days later we met Ryan again. This time rocking Rodiles (you know the story, a magical place). But still with the same mood of bringing his trip to an abrupt end.
Chillout Session, Beautiful Beach of Xago
We had to change his mind. We did change his mind: “Hey Ryan, how about joining us for a couple of days?” Ryan joined us. He joined us for the next 3 weeks. Together we kept exploring the coasts of Galicia and Portugal meeting more extraordinary people like Clive, the Master of Puppets, Peter and Andrea from Camino Surf in Galicia or the guys from the Driftwood Collective.
An extraordinary trip and it’s happy end – Ryan in the barrels of Supertubos – Last stop before flight back to South Africa
Thank you Ryan for being our travel companion, surf teacher and friend!