While some people still seek swells in the best known place such Australia, Indonesia or big-waves paradise Hawaii, others has a need for adrenaline. They want to feel alive, and it isn’t in a crowded line-up in the middle of a warm sea, surrounded by palm trees and piña colada that it will happen. They are tired of people. They are tired of being like all the rest. But not only that, this is only details. Their main idea now, is that they need to go out and learn again the joy of surfing. Enjoying a whole day by themselves, truly connected to the sea. Smelling the air, still fresh out of pollution. Seeing the wilderness that hasn’t been destroyed, yet. Pushing themselves out of their comfort zone to bring back the true essence of surfing - the fear of jumping out, but the joy of doing it.
As winter was slowly getting his way back into our life, I suddenly realize that I was still seeking Russia, especially after seeing the adventures of Cyrus Sutton in Kamchatka. It was adventurous, but oh, so dreamy! Then, I remembered an interview I totally forgot to share with you with an incredible man that can easily be considered as one of the surf pioneers in Russia, Sergey Rasshivaev. How did I? I am not quite sure, but I kind of feel that now is the perfect moment to share it with you, especially after re-watching a film he featured in earlier this year, Surf in Siberia.
Sergey is a pro-surfer in Russia as well as the CEO of Surf Holidays, a travel company he founded. He and his wife are then travelling around the globe, seeking good places to bring people in such schools and surf spots. “We offer people from Russia to come to these places, so everyone is happy”, says Sergey. “The schools get customers and our community gets a nice experience. The clients using our service does not overpay as we get a commission from the schools”. Their main goal remains clear, and it is the joy that drove him into this universe, helping people to connect while growing the Russian Surf’s community.
A question constantly comes back into my mind, though. Russia isn’t a typical country to travel to, especially while searching for gold, so how did someone like Sergey get involved in this sport and practice this back home on a professional level? “Almost all the first generation of Russian surfers started surfing abroad”, explained Sergey face to my interrogation. For him, the beginning of this thrill was on a trip to Portugal, where he discovered the joy of riding a wave. One warm spot wasn’t enough, though, so he moved away from home for a while to live in the Dominican Republic, which is one of his favourite places to bring people at as “there’s no people there and it is a beautiful place”. Armed of a thick 5/4 wetsuits and ready to jump in the cold 14 degrees water, we wonder what was pushing him to come back in the cold.
“It is because we have access to 13 seas, three oceans and tons of lakes, so as soon as we understand what is surfing and how waves works, we start thinking about home”, taught me Sergey while proving that the opportunities in Russia are endless.
Being a pro-surfer isn’t something typical for Russia, and being one of the few that gets money out of it, we are curious to know how it all started. Always seeking the best of himself, “I started to train a lot and take part in Russian competition as soon as I became a surfer”. “Sometimes I won, sometimes I lost and the idea of becoming a pro wasn’t looking so bright”, says Sergey. To become a pro in a country that isn’t used to have one is something scary, especially when you haven’t grown with that culture and that knowledge of the sea, but giving up wasn’t an option. “I went to Australia's Hurley High Performance Centre and met Gary Cruickshank, which was really inspiring. He gave me the wings and said - you can do it and you should”. A small talk with Gary was the motivation he needed and he was now back in force in the game. Two years later, we were able to call him a pro-surfer. This is blowing our mind, proving that motivation is everything, isn’t?
The surf culture in Russia has potential to constantly grow bigger nowadays, with all the wanderer trying to ban the stereotypes of surfers and in research of new breaks to fall in love with. “We are starting from zero surf culture, so it is constantly growing up and will become bigger, yes”, ended Sergey with.
Well, I don’t know about you, but even though Canada is one part of the world where cold water surfing is part of our life, catching up a plane to go out and discover Russia through local experts such Sergey sounds like a pretty tempting idea to me.
Just to get you pumped a little bit more, here is the short film he has been featured in, Surf in Siberia. This film is by Kokorev Konstantin and feature Sergey as well as his mate, Nikolay Rahmatov, through Murmansk Region. Only a few have tried these surf places and it was a quite challenging experience, shooting for about a year, but the results are amazing. Give us some cold, we’re ready for the call of the wild!