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Wavescape - Surfing in South Africa

Tue, 6 March 2018

Here's a random revelation. Freezing Finland has many secret surf spots, and Spike likes alliteration. Let's go surf the Hawaii-like Baltic Sea with former snowboard pro Lauri Heiskari.


You wouldn't think Finland is a top surfing destination. It isn't. Surrounded by Norway and Sweden, Finland has no open ocean. However, they get windwaves from the Baltic sea, a small inland sea. They need serious storms to bring big waves, and they're not Nazare or Mavericks big but the kind that at best give you incentive to paddle out in horrid conditions.


BALTIC LIP BASH: In the right conditions (howling onshores) it ... er ... cooks. Photo supplied

The right storms come between autumn and spring (though don't forget in winter the Baltic Sea can be frozen over). It's 5-4 wetsuits, hoodies, gloves and booties all the way.

Lauri Heiskari, an ex-professional snowboarder and one of the founding members of the DC snowboarding team, started surfing in California. Later, after moving back to Finland, his friends convinced him he could surf in his home country as well.

“In Finland, you’re actually looking for the exact opposite conditions to what surfers are looking for. It’s quite addictive when you do get waves, and you realize you’re surfing in a place where you thought surfing didn’t even exist,” he says.


CHOCOLATE BOX: A romantic stroll into the balmy waters of the Baltic Sea. Photo supplied

Like everywhere, the best surfing spots are kept secret. Still, when a storm approaches, stoked wave lovers pack their cars in the dark of the night. Most of them fell in love with the sport abroad, and medicate their withdrawal symptoms in the freezing waters of their local spot. Usually after several hour’s drive, they meet up in those rare spots on the Baltic in the south where the right surf arrives. The best you can hope for is 3-5' bumps that peak as the wind drops off.

Still, many times the surfers are left disappointed, even when a storm hits the shore. “So many things have to go your way. You have get really lucky to catch the storm at the right time.” Heiskari says, and continues, “It’s not like anybody wants to be there just swimming around. You really want to find even something worth going back for, because you never know when you get to surf again.”

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