From Russia to Alaska
Kamchatka is a beautiful and wild place on this planet - Photo: Gavrilova
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Every surfer loves to travel — to head to tropical islands, surf in bikini all day and catch the most perfect waves, but this particular trip was going to be much different. I was invited to be a part of the most extreme experience of my life as a surfer when me and three Brazilian surfers went to Kamchatka, a peninsula at the eastern end of Russia. We boarded a seventy-two foot sailboat to explore for unknown waves on the south end of the peninsula. The good thing about being on a sailboat is the ability to reach places that many people on earth would never discover and we found a few fun waves along the way.
All smiles after our first surf session in Kamchatka, Russia - Photo: Stephan Figueiredo
A beautiful day in Kamchatka surfing fun, freezing waves on my longboard - Photo: Gavrilova
The purpose of the trip was to surf waves never surfed or any type of wave we found along the way. We had all kinds of boards — we just needed to find the waves.
Since catching the first wave of my life in Brazil, it never crossed my mind to live an experience like this surf trip. The first day of surfing in Russia we were met with a 40 knot wind, extremely cold weather, and less than ideal waves. We did not know if we would find something better along the way so we went surfing. Each duck dive felt like my brain would freeze. Surfing in freezing places like this require you to have the right equipment and fitness levels. I surfed with a 6.5mm suit, gloves, boots. With such a thick wetsuit, I remember not being able to surf well, but when I came out of the sea I looked around and felt thrilled and happy. I knew that this was a trip to tell my future grandchildren about, and that the experience would make me grow as a person.
We always stopped at idyllic bays and inhospitable places, and found orca whales, sea lions and bears along the way. We happened upon many abandoned cities that were built during the cold war and experienced a great deal of nature with majestic views of snow-capped mountains as a constant backdrop. After exploring the Kamchatka region of Russia, we continued our trip, crossing to the Aleutian Islands in Alaska. This began the most dreaded moment of this expedition, crossing to Alaska through the raging Bering Sea. After passing through a frightening storm, we reached the Aleutian Islands after nine days without seeing land. The long days were spent working on the sailboat, doing shifts, feeling sea sick, eating canned food and all of this without a bath.
The crossing was extremely difficult, but the view of this beautiful bay made it all worth it - Photo: Stephan Figueiredo
Arriving at the Aleutians we were welcomed by a very different nature from Russia. The mountains no longer had much snow, but we rarely saw the sun. It was great to see land after so many days on the high seas and it felt like a revival! I felt very seasick on the sailboat, so whenever I had the opportunity to go to land, I went walking to explore the place. The first bay we sailed into after the crossing, I climbed very high on the mountain. Looking around from that high vantage point, I realized the discomfort of the journey was well worth it. The price to get to unexplored places is often difficult and the only way we were able to experience this was to face the swells of the sea and the storms that accompanied them along the way.
The Aleutian Islands showed us many places with perfect wave potential. We ran into many storms during the trip which found us anchored and protected in various bays. Although we were not able to surf the best waves, whenever we happened upon a spot along the way, we stopped and surfed. The enjoyment from all these unique moments and experiences makes me always want to be in search of new challenges and motivates me to live my life in search of something new.
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