JUNE 4, 2018

Surfer - - Contents -

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.”

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