When the future King of Denmark made his annual visit to the Faroe Islands at the end of August, he was treated, upon his request, to a surfing display put on for him by David and Katrin, the archipelago’s sole pair of resident surfers.
Throughout the last 30 years, wave riding has spread to all four corners of the globe. No matter how fickle, war-town, wave starved or freezing the region, in everywhere from Siberia, to the dense jungle of Papua New Guinea, scores of locals have grabbed hold of whatever craft they can find and paddled towards waves on the horizon.
Everywhere that is, except for the Faroe Islands. Despite its seventeen inhabited land masses, 694 miles of coastline, 50 thousand strong population and legitimately pumping waves, the island boasts just two solitary local surfers.
This is not due to lack of contact. Over the last decade the islands have received a steady procession of travelling surfers, with a string of films and magazine articles produced in their wake. However, until recently, the local surf community has shown little sign of growing.
Now, changing attitudes, increased publicity and the opening of the country’s first surf hire shop look likely to finally set the wheels of change in motion. And if the rest of the world is anything to go by, they may be about to spin at lightning pace.
Accordingly, we decided now was the time to visit and meet the members of this fledgling surf community, while searching for a few waves ourselves. We booked flights, and invited along Mark ‘Egor’ Harris, a man as well versed as any in searching for waves on the desperately fickle isles of the North Atlantic. We’d heard that access to much of the coastline was almost impossible in the kind of rental car we could afford, so we accepted a kind offer from our friends at Bentley to lend us their new Bentayga V8, assuring us safe and stylish passage through even the islands most seemingly insurmountable terrain.
As you approach the Faroes from the sky, the tops of the vast mountains and sea stacks are the first things that signal there is land below. They rise up, carving dark geometric shapes out of the sprawling blanket of cloud which hangs low over the land.
As you fly in closer, breaking through the dense brume, the flushed green terrain comes into focus. Then, tiny clusters of multi coloured houses appear, huddled together in huge glacial valleys. Above them, rivers snake their way down vast mountain sides, flowing pointedly till they reach the lands jagged edge, where they cascade into the deep blue hues of the North Atlantic.
After a mystical but unyielding first day spent driving the coastline and pointing at potential, we headed into town with wetsuits still dry. These are notoriously fickle lands after all, and to score by chance would have been an insult to their hard won reputation.
We’d arranged to meet Katrin and David in their favourite local bar. The minute we crossed the threshold, we spotted them, glowing orange under warm lights; looking every bit the unlikely pioneers we had travelled so far to find…
Cover photo: Elli Thor