Unlikely surf spots aren't exactly a brand new concept: Munich's inner-city river surfing, The Great Lakes, you've seen it before. But when Tom Butler dropped us a line from Azerbaijan with tales of 1km long waves in the Caspian Sea, we couldn't help but dive back into the strange world of novelty surf spots. Here's our top five.
Glacier Surfing in AlaskaChances are you've seen Garrett McNamara and Kealii Mamala's attempts glacier surfing in Alaska. These aren't waves created by wind or tide. This is the simple but terrifying event of falling ice creating ridable waves in the shadow of an unstable cliff of ice.
No situation in the ocean even comes close to the fear I faced there.
"I was about 50ft away but it was 300ft high so if you do the math, if it fell flat it would land on me. I kept looking up, looking at the wave, and looking where Kealii was. I did a few turns and as the wave ended, I lost speed and sank up to my neck. All I could think of was if it caved again in the same spot I was DEAD, no way round it. I was franticly waving for Kealii to pick me up, shitting myself. The longest, scariest few seconds I've ever encountered.
"I always work on only processing positive thoughts but I couldn't help thinking if ice landed on me and flattened me to the bottom. I envisioned me at the bottom like a squashed tomato. I thought at that point I wanted to go home,this is not worth it. I got on the phone and it actually brought me to tears because I didn't want to be there any more and I had all these guys counting on me to stay."
The PororocaThe Porocora is an Amazonian tidal bore. From the from the indigenous Tupi language its name translates loosely as The Great Roar and can be ridden for over half an hour. The Basque Country's, Kepa Acero clocked up a fair few air miles venturing deep into the Amazon in the hope of scoring a phenomenal ride at one of the longest waves in the world.
It's so noisy too, trees are falling and birds and animals running away. I was shitting in my pants.
"The wave is scary as it approaches," explains Kepa. "You see this thing coming from far away like a Tsunami. It's so noisy too, trees are falling and birds and animals running away. I was shitting in my pants. It's pretty apocalyptic. Also there is all the stories about the piranhas and I was eating crocodile for lunch, then you have to jump in the water. It's pretty intense."
The Caspian SeaBounded by Kazakhstan to the northeast, to the northwest by Russia, to the west by Azerbaijan and Iran to the south, the Caspian Sea isn't on your surfing bucket list. With thoughts to adding a forecast for the area to magicseaweed, it was rejected with the ideology that it would never be surfed, but British pro surfer Tom Butler, recently punched a longboard sized hole in that theory, albeit novelty shaped.
Waist to shoulder high 1km straight hand-ish rides with one or two cutbacks laid down.
"By accident I flew in on the swell of the year out here in Azerbaijan," says Tom. "The wind was about 50kmph producing this waist to shoulder high 1km straight hand-ish rides with one or two cutbacks laid down."
As the largest enclosed inland body of water on Earth, the Caspian Sea is often regarded as the world's largest lake. Located between Europe and Asia, the sea has a surface area of 371,000 km2, with no outflows, it's in an endorheic basin. Its northern part, the Caspian Depression, is one of the lowest points on the planet with areas dipping as much as 433ft below sea level.
"Baku where we surfed is 28 meters below sea level," continued Tom, "making it the lowest capital city in the world."
The Black SeaWhat do you associate with Turkey? Perhaps you see it as the crossroads of Europe; a historical meeting point of Christianity and Islam. It's unlikely, however, that you identify this country with a surfing culture dating back more than a millennium.
While modern surfing has only existed in Turkey for three to four years, the history of wave-riding in the country actually dates back hundreds, even thousands of years.
“While modern surfing has only existed in Turkey for three to four years, the history of wave-riding in the country actually dates back hundreds, even thousands of years to the days before the Ottoman Empire,” says Tunc Ucyildiz, Turkey's sole ISA representative, who drew our attention to this fascinating community. “Viya is passed on from father to son, originating from the Greeks who inhabited the eastern Black Sea region before the Turks. These people accept themselves as Turks now, but still have their own language with mostly Greek rooted words. Viya is one of these words, meaning “wave” in the Greek dialect."
The Great LakesOn the Canadian - American border sits the Great Lakes, forming the largest group of freshwater lakes on Earth, containing 21% of the world's surface fresh water by volume.