Risky Business Part Two: Reaping Rewards in Europe

Alan van Gysen

by on

Updated 1057d ago

Risky Business, Matt Bromley and Guy Mac's upcoming film is all about living life relatively, and searching relatively - comparing the risk vs the reward, and comparing one destination to another. It’s about putting surf and life on the line for the love of what we do, however risky it may seem or turn out to be. Like making the decision to fly to an unfamiliar, freezing cold Iceland in the North Atlantic, or chasing waves through a dismal Irish season, or having everything stolen the day you step off the plane in Portugal.

It can be risky, but ultimately it’s worth every bit of heartache. Risky Business is more than just comparing or analysing the risks; ultimately it’s about reaping the reward regardless of these risks, or rather despite them.

In light of that, I picked South African charger, Matt Bromley’s mind about the latest segment of his upcoming film…

Ireland

MB: I’ve always been drawn to Ireland for its slabs and big waves and I froth hard on missions off the grid. There's nothing better than taking a risk and scoring in a place like Ireland. A lot of the time I end up following bodyboarders around because they're on the same mission - isolated locations, uncrowded lineups and sketchy slabs. I love slabs.

Ireland can give you a month of gail-force onshore or you can find yourself under the fabled cliffs, trading huge barrels with a jolly crew in sublime conditions. The elements are real and they keep the hoard away. Ireland is for men with hairy chests and thick skins, for bru's who like rolling in bogs and getting their hands dirty. It’s all about good vibes, heavy water and a serious amount of rubber.

The grandstand.

The grandstand.

© 2019 - Guy Mac

Unfortunately we got royally punked during the first few weeks of our trip. Horizontal rain and hail fell for days on end. Every morning we wandered down to the fire, clinging to our coffee mugs and praying for a break in the storm. When you're soaked from all that rain, you really appreciate the sun when it comes out. The highlight for me came on Tuesday the 29th of December. The forecast suggested a gap in the weather for the morning but when we pulled back the curtains it was bucketing down and howling onshore.
I raced back to the peak for another, only to be greeted by a seriously nasty piece of water - thick, dark and about eight foot of wall.
Suddenly, as if in response to our disappointment the wind just vanished and I got to paddle out to a semi secret spot all by myself. It was literally between two rain squalls that we got the best footage of our entire Ireland mission. I could see the next storm approaching, so I had to get some quick.

A lesson in how to make the most of a small window.

A lesson in how to make the most of a small window.

© 2019 - Ian Mitchinson

I paddled out straight into a thick drainpipe and got spat out - it felt so good. I raced back to the peak for another, only to be greeted by a seriously nasty piece of water - thick, dark and about eight foot of wall. I put my head down and air dropped into the best barrel of my trip. Thick, loud and dark green. I held on as the barrel warped, bottomed out on the second section and then pulled high into the last section which gassed me out into the channel. Guy Mac's camera was totally drenched when I came in, but we got it on film.

A special word of thanks to Ian Mitchinson and his wife, Celeste who took really great care of Guy and I. The Guinness pies got us through the flat spells. Also thanks to Ollie 'O Flaherty, Barry Mottershead, Dyl Stott and Noah Lane for towing us into some bombs and showing us the Irish way of life.

Iceland

Iceland rewarded with much more than just waves.

Iceland rewarded with much more than just waves.

© 2019 - Guy Mac

Guy and I were staring down the barrel of another week of Irish onshore when we noticed that Iceland had a little break in the dismal winter rut. The night before we had decided to go but right away feared the risk and cancelled, only to do it again four more times. Then it hit us; we’re young, we have no Every few kilometres on any given drive we found ourselves gawking and exclaiming at another wonder.major responsibilities and the adventure and risk/reward is why we were doing this in the first place. It was a once in a lifetime opportunity to see a place we knew absolutely nothing about. All we knew was that it was about to get really cold.

Iceland is a special place, not only because they have the strongest women in the world (think Vikings) but it holds the most beautiful landscapes I've ever seen. Every few kilometres on any given drive we found ourselves gawking and exclaiming at another wonder. Giant waterfalls, natural geysers, pristine glaciers, huge mountains and hot water springs everywhere. At one spring we stripped down to our boardies in the snow and jumping into the hot pool.

Frosty and afloat.

Frosty and afloat.

© 2019 - Guy Mac

I decided to walk around the corner, taking no notice of the big red warning sign to see what other steamy offers were around. A lovely looking 'jacuzzi' beckoned with bubbles for extra effect. This looked perfect for a solo steam overlooking the icy river. As I was about to dive in, I stepped over the rope and onto the edge of the pool and wham! I felt this shock go through my body as I burnt the sole of my foot and jumped back onto the boardwalk. It turned out that the nice 'jacuzzi' was 100 degrees Celsius and was only bubbling because the water was at boiling point. I was so close to hopping in and getting deep-fried.
Guy and I made so many risky calls and most of the time we ended up scoring beyond what we could have imagined.
The riskiest part of a trip like this was making the call to go. We had seriously limited funds and Guy and I had no idea what we were throwing ourselves into. Once you book the ticket, there's no turning back. Guy and I made so many risky calls and most of the time we ended up scoring beyond what we could have imagined. Sometimes a call would go a little south but the cool thing is you learn from every experience. Three days later, after we had completed our Iceland leg, Guy and I were thinking how close we were to not pulling the trigger, and missing out on an experience that we will remember for the rest of our lives.

Iceland was pretty isolated. The people there spoke a really strange sounding language and weren't that open to two rugged surf-rats. A big thanks though to Brooke, a Discovery and National Geographic journalist we met through Tinder who showed us around and shot the second angle for the rest of our trip.

Because you can't go to Iceland without paddling to a berg.

Because you can't go to Iceland without paddling to a berg.

© 2019 - Guy Mac

Portugal

What is there not to love about Portugal? I’ve been good mates with Nic von Rupp for a while now. We both love slabs so we have similar interests in surf destinations. I was super psyched to hang with him for a few weeks and check out the rich Portuguese coastline. It didn't take much more convincing when a week of perfect conditions popped up on the charts.

A slab for sore eyes.

A slab for sore eyes.

© 2019 - Guy Mac

I couldn't believe the quantity of quality surfers in Portugal. Guys like Frederico Marais, Vasco Rebeiro, Nic von Rupp...Unfortunately Guy and I were dealt with a pretty heavy hand within the first few hours of our Portuguese adventure. We drove from the airport straight to Supertubos with all our gear to meet Nic. We surfed and returned to our rental, only to find a busted window and all our bags gone. They took wallets, passports, laptops, camera gear and all our clothes. Guy was in his number ones because he was filming on the beach and all that was left for me was a scraggly pair of Guy's three-quarter camo-boardies which I rocked hard at the police station.

Luckily Nic gave us free reign of his wardrobe later that evening. I had to go all the way home to South Africa to get a new passport and a new USA visa and be back in Ireland to catch our flight to Hawaii two weeks later. It seemed all was lost but in retrospect your worst moment was closest to the start of your best. It all worked out and only fired the passion for an El Nino winter in Hawaii which would prove to be the best season in history for big wave surfing.

Despite the downs in Portugal, there were most certainly some ups for Matt Bromley.

Despite the downs in Portugal, there were most certainly some ups for Matt Bromley.

© 2019 - Luis Bento

A massive thanks to Nic von Rupp. He introduced us to all his friends who were so welcoming and took us in under his wing when our goods were stolen. He had the mayor of Peniche and the Chief of Police on the hunt for the sorry dudes who took our stuff. We owe him big time. I couldn't believe the quantity of quality surfers in Portugal. Guys like Frederico Marais, Vasco Rebeiro, Nic von Rupp, Alex Botelho and Tiago Pires were ripping so hard.

The gracious host, Nic Von Rupp locked in.

The gracious host, Nic Von Rupp locked in.

© 2019 - Luis Bento

Tunnels from afar.

Tunnels from afar.

© 2019 - Guy Mac