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WHAT HAVE YOU BEEN DOING LATELY?

For most of July there have been no waves at all in Biscay. It’s been flatter than we’ve seen for a few years so I’ve used the time doing surf lessons to save a bit of money. The rest of the time I’ve been training and just enjoying the summer and the good weather with friends. Happy days.

YOU LIKE TO SWIM RIGHT?

Actually, I'm not a good swimmer but I swim often. When I go to the pool I probably do 30 minutes or something. I’ve been doing

a bit of that Apnea stuff too. This summer I did a swim from Getaria to zarautz, there were like 1,500 people doing it and it was quite a challenge for me. It took me 57 minutes to do the 2800m. An hour swimming in the sea is gnarly!

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MANY PEOPLE THINK THE BAY OF BISCAY COAST IS THE ONLY ONE IN SPAIN WITH WAVES... YOU’VE BEEN ALL OVER LATELY.

Yeah we’ve been exploring every corner. This past winter we surfed so much in the Mediterranean, a few trips to Barcelona, Castellon once, to the Balearics (Ibiza and Formentera) and also to Cadiz in the south. The truth is that a lot of the time it’s kinda guess work and comes down to luck, be we got super lucky and surfed good waves. Forecasts are never 100%, so sometimes you have to cross your fingers, hope you have good karma haha. The Mediterranean coast has great spots but it’s really limited by short swell wave periods. But I honestly think, apart from Mundaka, the Med coast has better waves than northern Spain, in terms of spots. Most of the coverage I had this past year has been from surfing in the Mediterranean.

IS NOT SURFING EVENTS MORE FULFILLING? YOU NEVER ‘LOSE’... I don’t think a freesurfer should necessarily be any happier than a contest surfer because either way, you’re surfing for a living, what could be better? Sure, they lose heats, but when you travel you miss swells sometimes, so it’s all just about perspective. I don’t think being a comp surfer makes you bummed though, there’s always a positive to take from any situation.

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ARE YOU COMFORTABLE WITH PROMOTING YOURSELF OR YOUR IMAGE? IS IT WEIRD TRYING TO PROMOTE YOUR NAME WITHOUT COMING OVER AS A BIT OF A... DICK?

Haha nah it’s OK. I think it’s all about the way you are and how comfortable you are with yourself. I just try to be me and get my name and my surfing out when I can but just naturally, as I am. You don’t need to be a clown or pretend to be some character, just be yourself and be grateful for doing what you do.

WHAT IS DAILY LIFE AROUND ZARAUTZ FOR YOU AND OTHER PRO SURFERS? ARE YOU CELEBRITIES?

Aritz is pretty famous at least...haha! It’s easy to get a table at a restaurant if you’re with him! I’ve never been asked for an autograph in zarautz yet, haha. People stop Aritz in the street and ask for photos with him, usually people from other places though, not folk from here. But in general, everyone is equal around here... we’re egalitarians!

WHAT ARE THE POPULAR MISCONCEPTIONS ABOUT THE BASQUE COUNTRY OR ZARAUTZ?

They’re all true! Hahaha! The weather is shitty, it’s difficult to get to know a Basque, but the food is very good! Haha.

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WAS THE WAVE AT WAIMEA A FEW YEARS AGO A BIG TURNING POINT... A LIFE- CHANGING WAVE?

It was my first time ever in Hawaii, I was 18, and the biggest board I had was a 7'6" and I thought it would be enough. So I jumped in with my 7'6" before really looking at it properly. I guess some people looked at me like, what’s this idiot doing? Because whereas a 7’6" would seem like a big board in Europe over there at Waimea it’s tiny. Anyway, for me it was a little boost, I guess it got my name out and a few people saw the photo from it. It was a turning point for sure.

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Photo: Gonzalez

HOW DOES A SURFER TRAIN PREPARE FOR WAIMEA IN THE BASQUE COUNTRY OR IN EUROPE?

In the Basque Country there are some big wave spots like Meñakoz, Roka Puta and La Galea, but none of them compare to Waimea or big waves in Hawaii, not even close. They’re all stepping stones though, it’s all good practice to get a feel for swells, for boards. Ireland has got incredible waves though, as gnarly as anywhere. I want to get up there this winter for a good swell if I can, I’ve wanted to surf Aileen’s for ages.