Watch: Made in the Basque Country

Stu Nettle
Swellnet Dispatch

It's a region that was once riven by violence and terrorism. Between 1968 and 2010, Euskadi Ta Askatasuna, or ETA - the armed wing of the Basque separatist movement, killed 829 people, many civilians, in their quest for self-determination.

ETA are now a footnote in the region's history, a long and proud history that's distinct from both it's neighbours: Spain and France.

Surfing is relatively recent to the Basque, the second generation is peaking now, but in the wider region, the Basque Country has a monopoly on good waves and good surfers, and therefore surfing has become another source of pride.

In this long player - 35 minutes! - filmmaker Jon Aspuru drills down into Basque history and surf culture, with an abundance of quality surf footage both new and old.

Recommended viewing.

Note: Red Bull have, somewhat oddly, now split the film into three parts.

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Comments

Mac Snaps's picture
Mac Snaps's picture
Mac Snaps commented Wednesday, 18 Mar 2020 at 12:14pm

Very cool, great footage.

freeride76's picture
freeride76's picture
freeride76 commented Wednesday, 18 Mar 2020 at 12:49pm

I would love to get one of those Mundaka tubes.

ringmaster's picture
ringmaster's picture
ringmaster commented Wednesday, 18 Mar 2020 at 2:36pm

Almost impossible now with the sheer weight of numbers in the water on ANY decent swell not to mention a pretty solid and talented local crew these days.

Was not the case in the early 90's when I lived there for 18 months. Plenty of perfect Winter days when a mid week low tide dawnie would still have less than 10 surfers in the water 2 hours into the day. More than enough barrels to go around!

Would be a waste of time travelling there to score it now.

freeride76's picture
freeride76's picture
freeride76 commented Wednesday, 18 Mar 2020 at 2:49pm

yeah, thats what I heard.

oh well, can't win 'em all.

NickT's picture
NickT's picture
NickT commented Wednesday, 18 Mar 2020 at 8:13pm

That's pretty cool you must have scored some epic sessions. Must be sad to see some of the footage these days when its on

ringmaster's picture
ringmaster's picture
ringmaster commented Wednesday, 18 Mar 2020 at 8:44pm

Not really sad Nick. I feel really lucky to have experienced it when I did. First surfed it in 88' and ended up going back, meeting a local girl (who's now my wife) and living a dream life there for a while. Actually scored a gig as a lifeguard there one year which was a great story in itself. Get back there every few years (wife returns at least every 2) and still have a lot of old friends there as well as an extended family. Craig (Aussie legend who settled there early 80's, opened the surf shop and never left) is a ripper and these days its great to go back and enjoy the vibe out of the water. Haven't surfed it proper for years and don't care. Can actually see us spending more time there as opposed to here as we get older. Awesome people, great culture, great lifestyle.

NDC's picture
NDC's picture
NDC commented Wednesday, 18 Mar 2020 at 10:03pm

Went through there in a van in early 90s

Scored mundaka and menakoz at size - mundaka was crowded even back then but there was enough to go around

If all my travels - the north coast of Spain remains a firm favourite

Had to laugh at the tortilla-de-patatas and kalimoxo (sp) .... very, very good memories

Of all my

Island Bay's picture
Island Bay's picture
Island Bay commented Friday, 20 Mar 2020 at 7:22am

Early 90s for me, too.

Had Mundaka two days in a row. Nothing epic, but 3-4ft, and I paddled out before the tide got really low, so had a bit of space and got waves. I remember the wave going from fat and uncrowded to freight-training and busy in about two hours.

Loved the town, but the town didn't like my German friend - and let him know in no uncertain terms.

NDC's picture
NDC's picture
NDC commented Friday, 20 Mar 2020 at 1:48pm

Yeah ... I saw two old local men fire up at German couple in a cafe

The history is tha the Spanish dictator - Franco - did a deal with hitler round WW2 - he would keep Spain from entering the war on the side of the allies if hitler resolves gisnproblem with basque separatists.

So the German Luftwaffe bombed gernika - 15 mins south of mundaka - levelled it. One of Pablo Picasso’s most famous paintings is a memorising if the carnage - apparently the only thing left standing was the tree in the town square ....
Old men from mundaka in the 90’s would have lost relatives in that bombing - perhaps even witnessed it

Ugly history - not your friends fault - but I guess helps provide some context - maybe you knew all about it anyway and remember the good memories of an amazing wave and culture

Island Bay's picture
Island Bay's picture
Island Bay commented Friday, 20 Mar 2020 at 2:28pm

Yep, I grew up with a massive reproduction of Guernica (Gernika) on the wall at home. I stared at that painting for endless hours, and soon learnt the history of it.

I did a lot of 'goodwill work' travelling with Germans. They all have massive historical baggage, and some aren't exactly diplomatic.

NDC's picture
NDC's picture
NDC commented Friday, 20 Mar 2020 at 9:05pm

Ah well .... we’ve all got our faults eh
Take care IB

Island Bay's picture
Island Bay's picture
Island Bay commented Saturday, 21 Mar 2020 at 4:23am

I say that as a Dane. We are generally very direct in our manner, and to Poms and Kiwis it's seen as rudeness, when mostly it isn't. E.g., an email asking a colleague to do something would be 10 words in DK; here in NZ, it takes 50, and the point still doesn't come across :-)

Some of my German buddies were very confrontational in their manner, and clueless to that fact, which made for some interesting times.

NDC's picture
NDC's picture
NDC commented Saturday, 21 Mar 2020 at 7:15am

Hmm! Didn’t know directness was a stereotypical Danish feature - regardless of national traits I have to say it’s a quality I wish there was more of ... so much confusion down, time wasted in our efforts to be ‘polite’ ... 

NickT's picture
NickT's picture
NickT commented Sunday, 22 Mar 2020 at 2:38pm

All the Mundaka fans may have seen this clip on Youtube but if you haven't its pretty epic, a collection of wavers from all the best swells over about 5 years

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mRPGoDr5LSs&t=179s

Fatso's picture
Fatso's picture
Fatso commented Wednesday, 18 Mar 2020 at 1:11pm

"ETA are now a footnote in the region's history"

Geeze, should you being visiting the region I'd hope you aint too recognizable Stu!!!!

Awesome region, waves, people and culture

stunet's picture
stunet's picture
stunet commented Wednesday, 18 Mar 2020 at 6:30pm

Watcha torkin' about, Fatso?

No offence intended. There's been a peace fire for ten years and ETA is now totally disbanded.

Fatso's picture
Fatso's picture
Fatso commented Thursday, 19 Mar 2020 at 12:07pm

Haha...just my memories of Basque country back in the day Stu. Awesome place but some very serious people around. No doubt completely changed these days, but little doubt the Basque people would still prefer autonomy. In any case, I'm going to get back there one day

stunet's picture
stunet's picture
stunet commented Thursday, 19 Mar 2020 at 12:48pm

Not so long ago I had a big run in with a Basque surfer in a country foreign to both of us. Very under the radar. The crux of it was that I'd just arrived to the place, there were very few surfers around so I was laying low. We ended up having a big blue in the surf, which I thought was because I had the temerity to show up at the place, but through all the screaming and shouting and water splashing and shit, I heard old mate say to me in his thick Basque accent: "You turn up here and no say hello?!"

I wasn't in the shit for showing up at this out-of-the-way place, I was in the shit for not fronting up and saying g'day.

Long story short, we made peace, laughed about it, and he showed me some of his secret spots.

So thumbs up to the Basque blokes, especially my mate who I won't name here, nor the place we were at.

A lot more went on, and one day I'll write about it, maybe after that bit of coast has been exposed.

stephen.allen's picture
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stephen.allen commented Wednesday, 18 Mar 2020 at 1:37pm

Beautiful film. Young surf photographers and film makers take note.

freeride76's picture
freeride76's picture
freeride76 commented Wednesday, 18 Mar 2020 at 2:54pm

coke and red wine, Jesus.

braudulio's picture
braudulio's picture
braudulio commented Wednesday, 18 Mar 2020 at 3:12pm

Kalimotxo - breakfast of champions!

‘IF YOU UNDERSTAND, things are just as they are;
if you do not understand, THINGS ARE JUST AS THEY ARE.’

sy Llama's picture
sy Llama's picture
sy Llama commented Wednesday, 18 Mar 2020 at 3:11pm

Beautiful waves, beautiful people, utmost respect for fellow surfers,not one geezer looking to fuck up anyone's wave. Just watched the clip of snapper(Tuesday) Chalk and cheese eh,watched it live just a minute ago,fucking joke eh

Abcd

Island Bay's picture
Island Bay's picture
Island Bay commented Wednesday, 18 Mar 2020 at 3:33pm

God, it's good to see a culture where people actually express themselves.

Roka Puta is incredible. A fair few steps above my level, but would love to give it a go on a 6-8ft day.

Great great film. Zorionak, Jon!

udo's picture
udo's picture
udo commented Wednesday, 18 Mar 2020 at 5:17pm

Roka Putahell of a wave.....DS territory hey I.B ?

Three guys one barrel - Vimeo

Island Bay's picture
Island Bay's picture
Island Bay commented Wednesday, 18 Mar 2020 at 5:24pm

Definitely DS territory.

Those proper big days look scary, mainly because of that devil boil, but heck it's a beauty.
How's the barrel from the guy on the 6'10 twinnie? (Inigo Idigoras)

I'd be freaking if I were the one farthest back!

udo's picture
udo's picture
udo commented Wednesday, 18 Mar 2020 at 5:29pm

Remember this one ?
Taming the Beast - Vimeo
A proper big day.

Island Bay's picture
Island Bay's picture
Island Bay commented Wednesday, 18 Mar 2020 at 5:36pm

Damn, that looks good!

(Apart from that boil and sometimes evil inside section I have surfed waves like that on Madeira, so it's not like it's some unfathomable realm. There's just something menacing about the place.)

Logical's picture
Logical's picture
Logical commented Wednesday, 18 Mar 2020 at 4:50pm

He said "Australians Showed us the way"
Yep a Unionised work force where Unions secured a Year 10 qualified worker a $114,000 year salary bolting seats into a Commodore on a production line.

Hence "smart Australia" does not even have face masks at this virus time. And is the only OECD country that does not make a car. And after Paul Keating and Bob Hawke set up the secretive Foreign investment Review Board, just about everything we owned is now owned by foreign companies and no one has a right to know.

GOD HELP SPAIN IF THE FOLLOW AUSTRALIA.

Ronson's picture
Ronson's picture
Ronson commented Wednesday, 18 Mar 2020 at 6:51pm

Sounds (il)logical. I do agree we are not smart. We are complacent morons, at least politically. Not sure you can say that about Hawke and Keating.

Filthyboy's picture
Filthyboy's picture
Filthyboy commented Wednesday, 18 Mar 2020 at 9:37pm

That first big tow in wipe out was siiiick!!! Yeeew!!!

elizabeth reed's picture
elizabeth reed's picture
elizabeth reed commented Thursday, 19 Mar 2020 at 7:17am

Me and my mate were there in '78. No surfers, the ones that were, were just getting their sea legs. Used to drink with the ETA top dogs and dodge rubber bullets in Zarautz most weekends when the Spanish cops came to town. It seemed like it was instead of footy. Camped at Mundaka for 6 weeks over 2 seasons and saw maybe 20 other surfers the whole time. It was a wild time - the country was letting its hair down, dancing I the streets after Franco had just ended his 36yr. reign of tyranny.

Elizabeth reed

Geenie's picture
Geenie's picture
Geenie commented Thursday, 19 Mar 2020 at 8:18am

Great story, are you a winemaker by any chance?

elizabeth reed's picture
elizabeth reed's picture
elizabeth reed commented Thursday, 19 Mar 2020 at 10:39am

nope but in hindsight would have been a wise fiscal decision

Elizabeth reed

Spuddups's picture
Spuddups's picture
Spuddups commented Friday, 20 Mar 2020 at 6:07am

That must have been an unforgettable experience. Thanks for sharing.

snakeman's picture
snakeman's picture
snakeman commented Thursday, 19 Mar 2020 at 4:19pm

coke and red wine, what ratio??

Island Bay's picture
Island Bay's picture
Island Bay commented Thursday, 19 Mar 2020 at 5:49pm

Equal parts.

I recommend one part wine and zero part coke, though...

zenagain's picture
zenagain's picture
zenagain commented Friday, 20 Mar 2020 at 9:46am

Has something happened to the vid?

btw, great comments from those lucky enough to experience it pre-crowd madness.

Watashi wa metabo oyagi desu.

stunet's picture
stunet's picture
stunet commented Friday, 20 Mar 2020 at 9:56am

Yep. Check back in 10 or 15, Zen.

radiationrules's picture
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radiationrules commented Friday, 20 Mar 2020 at 6:44pm

what an awesome film; reminded me to appreciate the unique culture of the basque people too, as well as the natural landscape and surfing. I too was lucky to have 2+ months in Mundaka, the northern winter of '86 - never more than 10 guys out - the most memorable day many, very scary waves, went un-ridden.

Jamyardy's picture
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Jamyardy commented Saturday, 21 Mar 2020 at 1:12pm

That was a refreshing watch.
But jeez only 2 surfs at RP in 4 years, and waiting 5 years for the slab to break properly.

coxypk's picture
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coxypk commented Monday, 23 Mar 2020 at 8:12pm

I spent 6 weeks at Mundaka in a van camping at the graveyard above the break back in 87
Not too many locals surfing back then, but quite a few other tourists, we all had plenty of great waves
What an epic place it was back then