A Solid Groundswell

By Toby Millage

A counter culture that is now a flourishing community

Welcome one and all and thanks to Tomorrow for asking me to reignite my writing game and become the contributor to all things surf in our funky little corner of Europe. As soon as I began hot wiring my grey matter I realised how much subject content I have an opportunity to tuck into – I am stoked.

The other day I thought about this huge influx of new families and young couples both foreign and national into the Algarve in recent years. I imagined they thought it´d always been this way. Having grown up here and been involved in the surf industry for almost 30 years, they might be interested to know that we were generally viewed as rag-tag dope-smoking overgrown punks who would eventually grow up and see the light.

When I entered the scene towards the end of the 80s, there was already a generation of Algarvian surfers. A rare breed of trailblazers and super rad rockstars. I have to say it was a pretty glorious time but in most aspects, it was not easy. It was super hard to get to the west coast beaches, no weather charts, no one´s parent surfed or understood it, no surf shops to access any equipment, only random VHS surf movies to check the surf pros or surfing styles. Soon after I ended up in Australia where my mind was blown by the deep surf culture. Everyone owned a surfboard instead of a football. A community with Grandad, Dad, Mum and kids all surfing together. Surf-based family BBQs and big days out at the beach. Huge events. A thriving connection to surf lifesaving. Damn, surfing comps even on national TV. I was totally spellbound.

Fast forward three decades and no one thinks twice about the development of the excellent homegrown surf clubs from one end of the Algarve to the other, nurturing world talent with specialist kids days. Friends and family meetups based around the surf conditions. Weekends away with your family to watch the world´s best at Nazaré or Peniche. Mum and Dad paddling out with their kids. Christmas wishlists of boards, surf skates, deck pads, the next coolest branded hoodie. We are entering a pretty glorious time in the Algarve. A genuinely surf-rich community.

We have arrived at the end of the rainbow where surfing is now part of everyday life and in turn, this depth in surf-minded community has inadvertently brought huge year-round support of local trade on all levels.

Photo credits:
Main: © José and Constância Rocha Simões
Second: © Pedro Correia
Third: © Staffan Rennermalm



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