- Interview: Christian McLeod
Mysteries In The Furious Fifties
According to the rare-earth hypothesis, there are a strict set of conditions that allow life on earth to succeed. Imagine our planet were to be moved only a few inches from its current path. The factors that keep us alive would be changed enough to transform the planet into a blank orbiting rock. But even within the bounds of our atmosphere life is sensitive and vulnerable. Such is the case in the severe latitudes of the poles. It’s why not a lot of people live on the islands off the coast of Antarctica.
On one such island it’s not only deadly cold, but it’s also illegal to make a landing without papers. Say you are interested in going there, and you’ve filed all the correct forms, and you’re approved to make a landing, and you’ve registered with the captain of the ice-busting “Polar Bird” , and you’ve paid your way, even then you would only be granted a few days’ access.
You’ll need to spend each night on the boat because there are no man-made objects on the island. Everything you bring to land must be collected and brought back off the island. These are some of the reasons why no one has ever come to surf here, and why it could be a long time until anyone does. Veiled behind these obstacles hides an island so mysterious and so furious that it would gray even the most colorful arctic surf fantasies.
The island, which is about the size of Martha’s Vineyard combined with Nantucket Island, has 17 known sandy and reefy point breaks. The proposed names for these breaks, starting from the northern tip of the island and going clockwise, are: Cosmic Lefts, The Cove, The Station, The Sledge, Prometheus, Quasar Reef, Numbs, Ninnies, Noobs, The Spit, He-Man, Doom Reef, Leviathan Left, The Terminal, Frosties, Pod, and Gandalf.
While I’m not sure if armchair naming of breaks is allowed — someone told me that I have to be the first to surf it to name it — I feel like having these names establishes the breaks in our minds and brings them out of the abstract, which they rightly deserve. There are a few waves that look to be some of the biggest waves on the planet, and one of the lefts is longer than G-land.
There may be a profundity of waves in a small area, but it doesn’t change the reality of how unfriendly this place is. It is rare to see anyone here. When humans visit this hostile rock, its like the meeting of a lava flow with glacial ice. The two are very different, and when they come into contact with one another, the stronger always wins.