GALLERY: Poland's 'Once a Year Swell' Delivers Flawless Baltic Barrels

Jason Lock

by on

Updated 18d ago

There are few things that get us more excited than hearing of waves in unexpected places.

Welcome to Poland! We've waxed lyrical about Polska before, which you can read about here. But it is rare that images of perfect Polish barrels light up our inbox. You see, on Friday, the Baltic coastline was graced with a short-lived swell pulse that translated into the best session in a few years for those in the know.

Spot guide: Poland

Our swell chart on Thursday evening for a, rather active, Baltic Sea. To the north would be Finland and a mid-sized pulse was travelling southerly towards Poland. See our Baltic swell chart, HERE.

Our swell chart on Thursday evening for a, rather active, Baltic Sea. To the north would be Finland and a mid-sized pulse was travelling southerly towards Poland. See our Baltic swell chart, HERE.

Now, much like everything in surfing, subjectivity is key. These aren't the big, stand proud, warm water kegs you're used to seeing. But that doesn't matter, because for Poland, this is as good as it gets.

Fast, fun tubes on a remote peninsula, the 4am strike mission to get there, the thrill of the chase and lucking into one of the best sessions of your life - is exactly how this story ended up panning out. And, hell, if your local beachie was looking like this (with one person out, we might add) you wouldn't be able to throw a wetsuit on quick enough, right?

This is a playful (but powerful, we're told) sized arena, that is mostly more 'wild river' than potential surf gold rush. It sits on a thin, NE facing peninsula some 400kms from the capital city of Warsaw. On point with the lens for this session Krzysztof Jedrzejak, training the lens at Poland's newly-minted national surf champion Kuba Kuzia.

Fun folds on the Baltic.

Fun folds on the Baltic.

© 2019 - Krzysztof Jedrzejak

“Owww man, that was one of the best sessions of my life,” says Kuba. “Waves were like a solid 4-5ft, perfect little barrels with a lot of energy, I couldn't believe it was the Baltic. It was just...an epic day in the ocean, barrels all morning, all the time, with spit. Unbelievable.”

“The tube session was on fire,” adds Krzysztof. “A long distance swell (for the Baltic!) from below Finland hit our coast. That's the best options for spots around here on the Hel Peninsula. We were there from first light and the wind was light offshore. After three hours, the wind turned to cross shore, turning this spot into a wild river again. Kuba was ripping. He is probably the only one able to catch those fast and steep waves. It was the best day of the year so far.” Kuba was ripping. He is probably the only one able to catch those fast and steep waves. It was the best day of the year so far

“To be honest, we were totally surprised,” he says, when I ask about what it was like to stumble across some barrels on the coast. “The forecast showed some cross shore wind, which turns that spot into a river and there's not really any chance for barrels. But we gave it a try anyway. I was up at 4am and after a quick breakfast, made my way there. I was the first and the only one on the spot.

“I knew that the swell was solid and everything really depended on the wind. I was shocked when I saw light offshore and two metre walls, spitting water out of the barrels.

A few hours later, this was a wild river.

A few hours later, this was a wild river.

© 2019 - Krzysztof Jedrzejak

“Then Kuba joined me and we decided to get in. We know it wasn't going to last forever. Last time we saw conditions like this was exactly a year ago but it was closing out more so there weren't many clean rides. This time is was perfect for the Baltic. No rips, hollow and powerful waves.”

Poland's been an almost novelty hit for surfing over the years. The Baltic is fickle, swells are short-lived, usually coupled with strong winds – meaning the coast is more suited for kitesurfers than anything else. Surfable waves are like hen's teeth, to get barrels, that's a masterful stroke of luck.

Despite that, the surf scene is building in Poland. During the summer, a crowded beachie will see at least 30 people in the lineup, all of varying degrees of ability – but all carry a tonne of pure stoke.

“Quite a lot of people ask 'are there even any waves?'' laughs Kuba, when I asked about the scene a while back. “Well, yeah. But what you might not realise is many surf breaks along the coast occasionally get epic. However, you never know when the swell's going to come.

“Its hard to believe how dynamically the Polish surf scene has changed since growing up. 10-years-ago, there were maybe a handful of 'freaks' who dedicated themselves to surfing. Now, surfing's so popular especially along the coast. There's surf competitions, surf schools, surf bars...

“To really understand the love of the Baltic, you need to come to Poland and experience it yourself.”

Kuba, deep and gunning for the exit.

Kuba, deep and gunning for the exit.

© 2019 - Krzysztof Jedrzejak

Ah yes, without paying proper attention or not tightening it off, sometimes a leash string will stretch and saw your board like a cheese wire. A victim but worthy for the cause.

Ah yes, without paying proper attention or not tightening it off, sometimes a leash string will stretch and saw your board like a cheese wire. A victim but worthy for the cause.

© 2019 - Krzysztof Jedrzejak