International
Indonesian surfer Edi Siswanto rides a Stand-Up Paddle Board (SUP) under the Northern Lights in Unstad. Photo: Olivier MORIN / AFP

In pictures: Surfing above the Arctic Circle in Norway

The 2019 Lofoten Masters surfing competition was held last week at the Bay of Unstad in the northwestern reaches of Norway.

The sea rises under the low, late summer sun, the wave climbs and curls and crashes, a figure emerges in a wetsuit, on a long board, and punches the air.

Anker Olsen Frantzen,18, rides a wave. Photo: Olivier MORIN / AFP


His name is Anker Olsen Frantzen, just 18 years old and a native of the Bay of Unstad where the Lofoten Masters surfing competition is taking place.

Anker is one of 29 surfers (eight female, 21 male) taking part in the 2019 edition of the Masters, the only competition to be held within the Arctic Circle at 68.9 degrees latitude.


Norway's surfer Ine Haugen, winner of the final of the open Lady Contest. Photo: Olivier MORIN / AFP

Lost in a network of fjords, the bay is stunningly beautiful, a haven for seabirds, a hideaway for humans.

Surfers look on at Unstad. Photo: Olivier MORIN / AFP


Its remoteness adds to its appeal. The Moskstraumen - or maelstrom - which forms in the archipelago has inspired writers since the Old Norse poems of ancient times. Edgar Allan Poe and Jules Verne both used it to dramatic effect in their stories "A Descent into the Maelstrom" and "Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea".

Fortunately for today's surfers there is no sign of a whirlpool in Unstad.

A surfer carries his board as he walks to the judges truck. Photo: Olivier Morin/AFP


Fair weather surfers who seek out the sun and big waves of Oahu or Tahiti or Jeffrey's Bay might blink at the conditions, although given the location inside the Arctic Circle they are relatively kind.

The dying embers of an Indian summer push the temperatures up to 17 degrees during the day with the ocean at 10 degrees. The high pressure means the waves are unusually small.

Surfing wetsuits and accessories dry at the end of the day. Photo: Olivier Morin/AFP


Anker's grandfather Thor Frantzen is the godfather of surf in these parts.

Back in 1963, using the cover of The Beach Boys' album "Surfin' Safari", released the previous year, as his guide, Thor built the first surfboard in Lofoten from a combination of fibreglass and newspaper.

Anker Olsen Frantzen poses with his grandfather Thor Frantzen, holding his 1963 self-made surfboard. Photo: Olivier Morin/AFP


That summer of '63, he then set about learning to use it. And he has been surfing ever since.

But he has had to hand over the crown -- last Saturday the Norwegian Ine Haugen took the women's title while Swedish professional Tim Latte was the best of the men.

Swedish surfer Tim Latte, rides a wave during the final of the Open Contest. Photo: Olivier MORIN / AFP


Oh, and grandson Anker won the longboard.

A longboard surfer walks to the water. Photo: Olivier Morin/AFP


READ ALSO: Braving Norway's cold: Surfing above the Arctic Circle

The sea rises under the low, late summer sun, the wave climbs and curls and crashes, a figure emerges in a wetsuit, on a long board, and punches the air.  

See The Local Norway article . . .