JUNE 4, 2018
At this latitude, it’s still dark when we wake up at 7:00 a.m. to prep for the day. The light begins to break over the mountains as we head east towards the Fitzroy farm, the owners of which we’ve managed to talk into giving us their gate keys to surf a wave that lies on their property.
At the farm, the Fitzroys give us detailed directions to a beach with decent swell exposure frequented by penguins. As we approach the beach, we realize the wind is blowing perfectly offshore and the mood in the car becomes electric. We’ve traveled an ungodly distance to be here, on this beach, with nothing but storm-addled water between us and Antarctica. Seeing the spray sheer off of perfect A-frames confirms our hopes that it will all be worth it.
On a sand dune perch above the beach, we inch into our 5-millimeter-thick suits while watching idyllic peaks peel up and down the beach. Coffin is out first, whipping his new Channel Islands fish with precision. O’leary and I paddle out soon after. Before I even catch a wave, a penguin comes swimming through the lineup toward us. Inside, a colony of about 20 more waddle around the beach in synchronized fashion.
After the session, we start making plans to head to a neighboring island rife with wave potential. Weiland had been in contact with a farmer named Chris Poole who owned the island. At the pub the previous night, we’d asked the locals about Poole. “Chris Poole? He doesn’t even have a boat!” chirped one man. Apparently Poole was a bit of an outsider, even by the standards of those living in one of the most obscure corners of the world.
The island that Poole bought holds 8 miles of exposed coastline and about 4,600 sheep. He’s never brought guests to the island outside of family, especially not a group of surfers from California. When we asked him in advance of our arrival what kind of compensation he wanted in exchange for allowing us on his island, he responded, “Bring a couple slabs [24 packs] of Budweiser and a drum of oil and we’re all set. Fuel for the fire and fuel for the men.”