Small on swell, but high on stoke. The true spirit of surfing couldn’t be suppressed.
There are so many things that make Unstad beautiful: the verdant green of the mountains, which bookend the salt and pepper flecked sand of the beach; the faint bleat of sheep as you doze off in your old timber cabin at Unstad Arctic Surf HQ; the limitless stoke of the people who take part in the pilgrimage to Unstad for the Lofoten Masters.
Such stoke was in steady supply during the entirety of this 10-year anniversary of the event, with organizers flicking the switch on for competition to start in waves that were small, yet steadily building on Friday evening.
The forecast was (and still is) looking great for Monday, but it was Friday and Saturday that needed to show more promise. All that was on offer in the fading Friday evening light was 1 foot icy peelers on the left-hand point and perfect winds to groom them.
5 heats were surfed on this first evening of the Lofoten Masters, and as was expected, Shannon Ainslie was a standout. The backhand hack attack that this South African powerhouse in know the world over was on display. The crowd was going wild with each gouge of the wave’s face. Ainslie was relentless to say the least.
Fading light stopped competition at around 8pm, not before all three of the Brockman brothers could put in powerful performances. There was a big Australian contingent here this year, and rumor was that there would be a Lofoten Master champion amongst them…
With the evening’s curtain pulled on competition, it was to the early hours of Saturday morning that competition would resume.
The waves had not increased in size, but that didn’t stop enthusiastic competitors from having a great time in the icy brine. With high tide expected at 3pm in the afternoon, it was decided to get the competition completed (and the after party started) as quickly as possible.
Shannon Ainslie, Gil Ferreira, Edi Siswanto and Luke Saranah were all in fine form in Round 3 heats. While Anker Frantzen, Joacim Nyhaugen, Mattias Hörnquist and Sturla Fagerhaug also posted high heat score totals. The waves were increasingly powerless as the day progressed, but some powerful turns, 360 hacks and small ally-oops were witnessed.
The women’s heats were dominated by Unn Aigner Haukenes, Camilla Pedersen, Ingrid Velken Kverneland and Maria Petersson, who all posted strong heat score totals in the challenging conditions. Petersson continued her good form into the semi-finals, winning her position in the final easily, while Camilla Pedersen also dominated her semi to take the win.
Semi-finals for the Men’s saw Edi Siswanto and Shannon Ainslie clear standouts in their semi-final in terms of surfing, but the truly amazing thing about this heat was the disruption from a small pod of Killer Whales that visited the competitors. A mixture of amazement and fear swept through the competition site once it was realised that Orcas had ventured so close to the riders. In the end, all was good and well, with everyone present feeling rather special to have witnessed such an encounter. Luke Saranah and Gil Ferreira stayed ahead in a closer contest in Semi-Final 2, with only seaweed to disrupt their movements through the waves…
The women’s final was an even closer match up, which was riddled with controversy due to an interference call on both the strongest performers from the earlier rounds, Maria Petersson and Camilla Pedersen. But even with half of her second best score to work with, Maria Petersson was able to finish ahead of the pack and take the win, with Ingrid Velken Kverneland 2nd, Ida Lien Vindvik 3rd, and Camilla Pedersen in 4th.
The Men’s Final was a see-sawing battle between the riders, with the lead changing several times throughout. In the end, it was Edi Siswanto who stayed far enough the pack, with the new local (he works at Unstad Arctic Surf) greeted by cheers from his colleagues and friends after the win ahead of Shannon Ainslie, Saranah and Ferreira, who all showed great form throughout the event.
This year’s event didn’t have the larger, more powerful waves of the year previous, but it did have fantastic weather, and waves that everyone, of all levels of surfing ability, enjoy. The organisers once again out did themselves with the good times that were on offer, and the scenery was its usual, stoically beautiful self.
If you haven’t made the pilgrimage to Unstad for the Lofoten Masters yet, then you best start planning for next year!
Joshua Burguete-Kirkman / NSM
All Photos AFP Photo / Olivier Morin