Kepa Acero… Greatest Surf Adventurer Alive?

It helped that apart from the incredible waves and Kepa’s great surfing, he is a real character and the clips could barely contain his infectious positivity and the joy he finds in really living and examining a place and its people.


Back home in the Basque country, Kepa’s fire for adventure was lit. He quickly set about targeting the remotest, inhospitable areas on earth, that might have world class waves. With backing from new likeminded sponsors like Patagonia, VSTR and Reef and using Facebook and Google Earth he embarked on a series of expeditions that have taken in Alaska, Peru, Chile, Patagonia, India, Indonesia, Angola, and Antarctica to name just a few. He has discovered countless waves, some of them world class, made many friends and put himself in some positions that few could imagine, let alone survive.


In Alaska for example, out on the frontiers after three weeks alone he was forced to knock on doors and fake being lost, just to talk to people. On the island of Kodiak, he flagged down a car that had a surfboard on top. The car had a Chilean bear hunter stroke surfer and two Alaskan fisherman. After a few days surfing together, Kepa explained his Google Earth theories for waves and the fishermen agreed to use their boat to sail the 15 hours to search. For five days it was idyllic, surfing new waves, then roasting deer and salmon by fires at night. Until one afternoon a big low tide left the boat dry docked on sand. Kepa and his Chilean friend decided to walk to help.


Kepa being lighter, walked ahead, only to discover his friend was sinking, the wet sand being quicksand. With no rope and no where to affix it even if he had, he was sure his friend was going to die in front of his very eyes as as he sunk to his neck. Eventually after a few hours, his friend just managed to struggle free, and after a few days they managed to get the boat back in the water. “That is one of the times when you question the whole experience,” he says. “And I knew that after sharing such a heavy, near death experience that we would either be friends for life, or we would walk away and never see each other again. Eighteen months down the track I’m in daily contact with that man.”


Of course it is the extra hardships that bring extra rewards. In Angola for example Kepa went through some extremely harsh condition to find new waves. “After 40 years of war you have to be very careful there. Driving in a car with cameras and computers you are a target and I understand that. That was the only place I had to act like vagabond, even acting drunk so not to arouse suspicion. And I’d always have to go the village and ask permission from the head of tribe to go surfing. I’d show then my surfboards, and all the villages would come and were so curious as they’d never seen one. I’d then walk up the point and catch a wave and they would scream and yell, like God walking on water. I felt like a hero or Kelly Slater,” he laughs. “I took a few of the kids surfing, and they are so sporty and stood up and surfed straight away. It was unbelievable, they had this stoke, they just wanted to surf. And I think they will find a way. You know it’s not a cultural thing, we all have the sensation and when I saw the faces of those kids it reminded me what surfing can do, and that all the hardships are worth it.”


Other times Kepa, through exploration would find the most incredible waves, and surf them all to himself. “I was Indo, in one of the really remote chains. I met this feral Australian guy who had been living out there for months exploring. We surfed some great waves for about four days and then one night he went out and got really, really drunk. Towards the end of the night he ended up telling me about this wave he had found that was incredible. At first light, while he was still snoring, I snuck out really quietly, hopped on my motorbike and went and found it. I then had five days surfing maybe one of the best waves in Indo on my own. I managed to teach a local villager how to use my camera, and you know it was hard to believe. You’d see the sets coming, like three perfect waves and think maybe I’m about to get the best wave of my life in ten seconds. It was weird not sharing that experience, but I think its important to show people those waves still exist, that they are there if you go look.”


And the stories keep coming, from finding a perfect left at, literally, the bottom of the world, to scoring some of the best waves of his life, on his own, at a grinding righthand pointbreak in India of all places. There’s times stuck in the African desert with three flat tyres, each tyre taking a six hour round trip to fix. There’s empty Peruvian bombs, and a life stealing wifi and uploading inspirational travel stories of a life of adventure as new friendships are forged and new waves discovered.


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