At first glance, where would you have placed these images? Some better known-Euro beachie? A playful day out of the eastern seaboard? Though the headline of this piece is a dead giveaway, would you have guessed this is Poland? And from just last week too.
We've long known of the fickle waves that drum the Baltic coastline. But it has been a few years since Polska looked a little something like this. Not the power nor size of a thundering US east coast day (let's not get carried away), or the grace and world class kegs of the likes of Hossegor, but to the casual observer, the similarities are there; classic autumnal colours breaking close to shore, hardy crew clad head-to-toe in rubber, fun looking mini-tubes. And the Polish surfer, this is pretty much as good as it gets.
Spot guide: Poland
As for this story, a huge swell rifled from the north east and into the frigid Baltic Sea on Thursday, slamming those dormant sand bars across Poland's 328-mile long coastline.
The country's first national champion, Kuba Kuzia along with Krzysiek Sikora, teamed up with lensman Krzysztof Jędrzejak for a two-day strike mission as the storm settled in.
“We only get one of these days a year or so in the Baltic," said Krzysztof. “Hurricane wind from the north east was blowing for the whole day before. Surfers were looking for the shelter. We gave up, hoping that the next morning is going to be epic. The next day, the buoy showed 3.5 metre waves at 11 seconds.
“All we were looking for was to score the biggest, cleanest and most powerful waves we could find on our coast that day. We darted from place to place, which is risky. The Baltic is well-known for its extremely short periods of good surf, so changing location could ruin the mission.”
After walking a few kilometres at first light, the gents scored. “We almost lost an hour looking for the right peak at sunrise, which was not closing out. Finally we found it. Kuba and Krzysiek decided to get into lineup. I stayed on the shore with my camera hoping that this was the right decision. Through the lens I saw barrels. Shooting from the beach I couldn’t wait to join the boys in the water.”
“The waves early morning were perfect - it was barreling and quite big,” adds Kuda. “At first light it was even bigger, you could stand tall in the barrels but the peaks were shifting and sometimes it was closing out, making it really scary.
“So we decided to wait a bit and make a strategy . After about an hour, it was still hard to paddle out the waves were powerful but it was more friendly. At the end I got some barrels and perfect. It's unbelievable how good the waves are in Poland.”