Between Hollywood films, max-capacity contests, Instagram sex symbols, and Nazare live-streams, surfing has become an integral part of our modern pop culture. But this was not always the case. Less than half a century ago, surfers were social outcasts, rugged individualists—cowboys of the sea, if you will. And despite the mass commercialism of wave riding over the past 50 years, small remnants of our outlaw roots still remain.
Argentina’s Gauchos Del Mar, are two of those throwbacks. I met Julian and Joaquin Azulay two years ago in Huntington Beach—about as far away from home as it was possible for them to be, both literally and figuratively. The Azulays were touring with their new film, and had stopped through the OC to meet with sponsors and lay the groundwork for their next project.
They also spent a day screening their most recent film for a mutual friend who teaches biology in Long Beach, giving up an afternoon of their time talking with the class about their adventures and the various flora and fauna they have encountered on their backcountry missions to surfing’s last explored regions. It was just another day in the lives of the Gauchos Del Mar—a little hobnobbing, a little philanthropy, and a lot of stoke. But things were not always this way for Argentina’s most famous surfers.
Ten years ago, the Azulays were an unknown pair of brothers from South America’s least-appreciated surf zone. Overshadowed by neighbouring Chile and Brazil, Argentina doesn’t exactly inspire wet dreams in the average surfer. But it is often the lesser-known and less-fortuitous coastlines that inspire the greatest exploration. After all, necessity is the mother of innovation—and with some of the world’s wildest and most beautiful natural regions in their backyards, the Azulays decided that they might as well get busy doing something new.
Patagonia has been compared to the US’s Yosemite Valley 100 years ago, except with a coastline, and infinitely less hospitable. Shared by Chile and Argentina, the Patagonia region holds some of the best rock climbing, mountaineering, and skiing in the southern hemisphere, but the Azulays were convinced there was surf there as well. Armed with a couple of boards and a GoPro, they took off into the wilds and documented their adventure—and their rough, rootsy film ended up resonating with thousands of people at film festivals around the world. When they embarked on their second major adventure a couple of years later, they did so with proper film equipment and major sponsors. And just like that, the Gauchos Del Mar were suddenly full-time professional adventurers.
The Azulays’ most recent foray into surfing’s wildest arena follows a 50-day+ walking tour of Tierra Del Fuego, the storm-battered island region at the southern tip of South America. Aside from Antarctica, this is quite literally the bottom of the world—and probably one of the least explored surf zones in existence.
The Azulays had food caches dropped by helicopter along their proposed hiking route, then disappeared into the wilderness for nearly two months, carrying little more than tents, wetsuits, and one board each. While wandering South America’s last frontier, they braved bitter cold, raging winds, and unexpected injuries—and discovered a draining lefthand point break that had never been surfed. They also documented their adventure in a beautiful film entitled Peninsula Mitre: La Tierra Olivada, which has been doing the film festival circuit for the past year.
But a year on the festival circuit is not what Julian and Joaquin were cut out for. Like most cowboys, the Gauchos Del Mar are far more comfortable on the road than in the city, and it wasn’t long before they started to feel the itch. While you enjoy the cinematic fruits of their last adventure above, they are already gearing up for their next—a one-year road trip around the coast of Africa. What they will find is anyone’s guess, but judging from their past wanderings, it will undoubtedly appeal to the forgotten cowboy in us all.
Find the trailer and full film, Peninsula Mitre, HERE.