Usually we would be out there... Photo: Sandra Stubenvoll - Baleal Surf Camp
It is now the third consecutive year with the World Cup Tour in Peniche and, for the third consecutive year, conditions have been good to epic. That’s the pro’s talking not me.
I heard that it was the very first time a WCT event was completed within two and a half days strait and even rarer I guess, with barrels left and right from start to end.
When the news spread about the 2009 Search event we were all excited with the prospect of seeing the top surfers in the world surfing on our backyards. We know the surf we have here, but the world did not. Now the world knows and despite the cliché: things will hardly be the same.
Personally and being a person within the surfing business it would be ridiculous to claim this event is not good for the present and future of this area. But I would be a liar if I were to say that as a local surfer this makes me particularly happy. After three years, the point proven beyond any doubt is that Peniche is indeed one of the most consistent surf locations in Europe, with the extra of having world class waves to go along with swell exposure second to none in Portugal.
This is the sponsors, brands and contestants dream scenario and at the same times the local’s nightmare... Firstly 3 days in a row with perfect Supertubos, not accessible. Secondly; the crowds will grow more and more and that’s just it. What used to be a quit low key atmosphere during most of the best surf season will become increasingly more impacted with the surfers both national and foreign. Good for business perhaps, not so good for vibe in the water, but you can’t have it all, right?
The typical selfishness of the local surfer is a normal and reasonably easy to understand phenomena. You can’t build waves as you build a skate park or a ski pist. What nature has to offer is all there is and, on top of that, surf spots won’t work as often as we would like, so localism is a natural part of the sport itself.
Here in Peniche localism is a very mild version of what you can find in other places in Portugal not to mention the world. However and more and more frequently, this mellow attitude and forgiveness to wrong doing in the lineups is misunderstood for inexistence of locals at all. This is visible firstly with the surfer tourists that paddle strait out to the outside of the lineup, this we can even understand as the folks have so much surf culture as we have recycling habits. But now, and second to the point above, we start to see Portuguese surfers from elsewhere coming over to our peaks, paddle strait outside and start barking at everyone in the lineup, trying to pass as locals the impostors!
This is one of the not so pleasant consequences of the WCT success. The area is becoming a magnet for reasonable surfers who think they will get more than their fair share of waves if they try to make an impression of what a local behaves like around here. The problem is that they don’t know who the locals are and how we behave. But we all know who is who in the water and the “wanna be” locals will have to learn too. Because if they don’t learn how to behave around here things are going to get nasty for everybody, and nobody here really wants that.
Text: Marcos Bairros