Poland to Portugal: How We Saved Our Surf Trip

Tom Vaughan

by on

Updated 29d ago

Surf trips, or rather successful surf trips, can often be determined by the results of split-second decisions. Like choosing to delay a flight home over a forecast that finally promises the redemption of firing waves, offshore winds and bright blue skies following a week of wicked westerlies, seeking shelter.

This was the case for a Polish surf contingent with one goal in mind — score pumping Portugal pits at the end of Autumn. Accompanying two of Poland’s finest surfers, Kuba Kuzia and Max Michalewski, was talented lensman Krzysztof Jędrzejak, who you might know better as Baltic Surf Scapes. Here, he talks us through the trios' adventure and how one decision managed to save the entire trip.

View Live: Supertubos

We've all been here. Just complete appreciation for what is happening in front of us. In this instance — Kuba witnessing Miguel Blanco on a beauty.

We've all been here. Just complete appreciation for what is happening in front of us. In this instance — Kuba witnessing Miguel Blanco on a beauty.

© 2023 - Krzysztof Jędrzejak

Words by Krzysztof Jędrzejak

The idea for the trip was born at the end of August during the Polish Championships, Max got the win and Kuba was second.

The destination was obvious — Portugal. Max lives in Portugal and Kuba travels there ten times a year. For me, 2018 was the last time I visited this beautiful country.

I’ve already seen thru my lens; XL Nazare, pumping Supertubos and the WSL event but this time I was hoping to shoot the best Polish surfers on some of the best waves possible.

You can't visit Portugal in winter without a quick stop here when it's on.

You can't visit Portugal in winter without a quick stop here when it's on.

© 2023 - Krzysztof Jędrzejak

We booked the flight for half of November and planned to stay in Portugal for ten days.

A few days before arriving, Max text us to say he injured his feet at Supertubos so badly that he couldn’t even stand on it. On top of that, the forecast for the whole our stay looked terrible.

Max Michalewski would still shred as hard as this with both feet injured, probably.

Max Michalewski would still shred as hard as this with both feet injured, probably.

© 2023 - Krzysztof Jędrzejak

“I injured my foot doing a layback just two weeks before Krzysztof and Kuba arrived,” said Max.

“It was very unfortunate as we were planning to explore different waves on the coast and hopefully get some nice photos. Even though my foot was far away from 100%, I was still able to have few hours in the water with them later on which was very cool.”

After arriving, there was plenty of swell but the strong westerly winds destroyed everything. For a week, Kuba and I were searching for shelter to surf some cleaner waves.

Kuba bonding with good woofer Dudu.

Kuba bonding with good woofer Dudu. "Dudu was our neighbour’s dog, the old man who was living opposite to our surf house in Baleal," says Krzysztof. "He's awesome, such a nice little cuddler."

© 2023 - Krzysztof Jędrzejak

It was windy and raining everyday. I didn’t even grab my camera for all that time. It looked like the dream of our Polish team scoring waves in Portugal had disappeared.

While Max was still recovering, Kuba and I decided to journey 120km north of Peniche in the hopes of finally scoring decent waves.
 
That decision was pretty much breaking point.

© 2023 - Krzysztof Jędrzejak

It doesn't always have to be overhead and reeling to have a good surf, sometimes all we (and Kuba) need is a couple feet of good clean fun.

It doesn't always have to be overhead and reeling to have a good surf, sometimes all we (and Kuba) need is a couple feet of good clean fun.

© 2023 - Krzysztof Jędrzejak

Luckily, we managed to find a nice working right hander next to a jetty. That was the first time where Kuba really scored and I got some decent shots.
 
After that, we checked the forecast and we couldn’t believe that exactly on the day of our flight back to Poland, the second biggest Atlantic swell of the season was supposed to hit the coast of Portugal.

Decision was made in a few seconds as there was also lots of offshore and sunny days ahead. We rebooked the flight and stayed for one more week. And then it all started.

"This is Kuba's 25 years old Peugeot 106. He bought it a few years ago for 500 EUR," says Krzysztof. "He took a long drive from Baleal to compete at the Galicia Pro Portugal in the middle of the summer and he almost overheated in the car."

© 2023 - Krzysztof Jędrzejak

***

The swell was massive. We firstly drove to Nazare to watch it in all its glory. Finally I could hear my shutter working at top speed again.

While watching Nazare we realised that a few days before, we saw a tiny little peeler on the other side of the pier and thought it might work when Nazare gets XL and other exposed spots were too big and too wild to get in.

It's hard to believe that when Nazare looks like this, you can find waves just around the corner like in the image below...

It's hard to believe that when Nazare looks like this, you can find waves just around the corner like in the image below...

© 2023 - Krzysztof Jędrzejak

Where to go when Nazare is XL? Turns out there's a few options for the smaller wave variety.

Where to go when Nazare is XL? Turns out there's a few options for the smaller wave variety.

© 2023 - Krzysztof Jędrzejak

We gave it a chance and drove north again. It was the only chance to get wet that day. That was a good call. We surfed these one-to-two foot peeler straight to the shore. There was so much fun and that definitely was kind of our “weird waves” experience.
 
We knew that the best was yet to come and the whole Portuguese coast was about to shine.

Max wasn’t 100% but ready enough to be back at Supers. For me, it was a great experience to watch the boys scoring and sharing peaks with some of the best in Portugal like Miguel Blanco and Guilherme Ribeiro. That’s what I was dreaming about.

Related content: Portugal's Wild Wednesday

Guilherme Ribeiro, completely dialled in with this backlit beauty.

Guilherme Ribeiro, completely dialled in with this backlit beauty.

© 2023 - Krzysztof Jędrzejak

Ericeira's Miguel Blanco is a regular sight at Portugal's best waves. He's also an enviromental activist and all round good guy.

Ericeira's Miguel Blanco is a regular sight at Portugal's best waves. He's also an enviromental activist and all round good guy.

© 2023 - Krzysztof Jędrzejak

With the surf trip back on track, the boys took a break to kick back watch some of the World Cup.
 
Poland were playing against Mexico in Quatar so we were watching it at Max’s place.

At half time we went for a quick spontaneous spot check at the banks of Belgas. It was fair size, super clean and the right-hander looked sick. Max and Kuba had the lineup to themselves.

"I jumped in with my camera at Belgas," said Krzysztof "It’s an open beachbreak so I had to face quite strong current. Still, waves were super clean and we had it with only the three of us and It was the most beautiful sunset of that trip."

© 2023 - Krzysztof Jędrzejak

"For me, shooting film from the water is the greatest escape from the digital world where everything is supposed to be perfect. Analog equipment has its limits but it gives me more freedom with less expectations. It's just pure fun and I love it."

© 2023 - Krzysztof Jędrzejak

After a quick shoot from the cliff I decided to join them in the water with my 35mm film underwater camera. That was the moment when I thought — this is how I imagined this trip should be like.
 
Big ups to Max for a quick recovery, he just called me to say that it’s pretty serious with his feet and he might need a surgery. Wish you a speedy recovery brother and see you soon in the water.

Thank you Portugal, and thanks Max and Kuba for a great time.

Western Europe has been firing recently. Keep an eye on the cams, here:
| Supertubos | Nazare | Mundaka | Fistral | Croyde | Anchor Point |

Max setting his line at solid Supertubos.

Max setting his line at solid Supertubos.

© 2023 - Krzysztof Jędrzejak

Portuguese perfection!

Portuguese perfection!

© 2023 - Krzysztof Jędrzejak

A proper Polish peak. Max heading right and Kuba going left, makes things easier when one of you is regular and the other goofy.

A proper Polish peak. Max heading right and Kuba going left, makes things easier when one of you is regular and the other goofy.

© 2023 - Krzysztof Jędrzejak

Portugal grower.

Portugal grower. "Much bigger than it looks," said Krzysztof. Looks plenty big enough to us...

© 2023 - Krzysztof Jędrzejak

Delaying the flight home, decision well made.

Delaying the flight home, decision well made.

© 2023 - Krzysztof Jędrzejak