Small Waves, Great Mood, little Competition


A Regional Surf League

Attending a regional surf contest doesn’t feel like being at some big tournament – it’s more like going to a barbecue without barbecue. It’s a relaxed atmosphere: the guys participating hang out, chat, now and then they warm up and run towards the waves. It is competition, but you know: They cheer when the other guy takes a good wave.

Playa Nemiña, where the competition was held out. It’s a quiet area somewhere at Costa da Muerte at the western tip of Spain.

Those guys who organized the competition at Nemiña – easily one of the most beautiful beaches in Spain, and maybe one of the most remote ones too – proved to be either lucky basterds or skilled predictors. We arrived on Saturday and waves were a mess. “Condiciones revueltas” – chaotic conditions.

In the morning of Sunday, the day of the competition, swells arrived and grew bigger and cleaner. Perfect small longboard and stand up paddle waves…

In comparison to locals who know the beaches around, we as travellers are bloody amateurs – we would have never assumed that beach was on that day.

And the day after the competition waves were gone as fast as they had appeared. As if they were ordered for that particular day.

Jose Rodriguez (2nd from right) among buddies. Though he looks Spanish, talks Spanish, serves as the president of the Federación Gallega de Surf, he is actually a Swiss guy who followed his passion for waves and moved to Spain some years ago. The Federación is the heart of the “official” Galician surf culture, organizes competitions, beach cleanings and coordinates all matter surf in Galicia.

That guy’s daughter participated in the regional women’s longboard category. “We come directly from a wedding from yesterday night. We didn’t sleep, drove here and now she’s in the water… Honestly, I don’t think she will win!” and laughs, while recording his daughter.

“Amigos y familia” substituted for the usual crowd of photographers usually found at bigger events some place else. If one shot makes the waves look bigger and the moves more radical, the job is done…

“Will you win today?” – “Naw, I’m surfing pretty bad… But waves are good and so are the others. I’m just here ’cause that’s where I meet my surf buddies from all over the place!”

Another competitor. Originally from Mexico that dude lives now in Galicia, enjoying its waves. He had style, mucho style. About the folks there he said: “The skills of the Galician surf scene are tremendous, the competition is good. There is a lot of potential untapped yet, I think.”

What brought him all the way from Mexico to Galicia is surf. “The nice thing about Galicia is its geographical position. See, you can have good waves at pretty much every swell or wind direction. The weather and the water is cold, but cope with it and Galicia is the place to be… ”

We saw tons of style on stand up paddle and longboards. “Style and skill is getting better every year – Galicia has some nice potential still sleeping.” said one of the participants. Agreed.


For Gabriel on the other hand, that beach is part of his everyday life. We met him after the competition, when he just surfed one of the nice waves that came in late in the evening. “I am from here, grew up here and for me Nemiña is the best wave in the world. I mean really “in the world”. I have been travelling to Portugal, France, many places – that one is special.”

He didn’t participate in the competition – like many others locals who live in the area. Surfing is fun when there is a competition, but for Gabriel “it’s a way to enjoy nature and the ocean. Surfing is something very personal – I don’t need judges and that stuff for it.”