Bixente Lizarazu shared a surf trip with Michel Bourez… in Iceland. The 1998 world champion tells us what happened.
“What’s your take on this five-day surf trip to Iceland?
At first I was super excited because I had been to Iceland before, but never with the idea of surfing. So she was all set for this atypical and unusual experience. However, I thought we were going to suffer from the cold of the ocean when in fact it was bearable largely because we had the right equipment. What is above all very nice is to rediscover that feeling of surfing like in the past, with places just for us, which nowadays is very rare.
The arctic journey of Michel Bourez and Bixente Lizarazu
Precisely, surfing as a couple, with no one around, how does that change?
Multiply the pleasure. Today, even if you meet a hundred people in the water and perfect waves, you are frustrated. Which was not the case in Iceland. It is the pleasure of surfing that I had 20 years ago. Finding that again is a great pleasure even if the conditions are more hostile. This country is extraordinary, nature is present everywhere and it is she who decides and sets the limits. The decoration is impressive, with black sand beaches, lava like on the Moon, sessions with views of the glaciers, the mountains, which is completely crazy and extraordinary. And then just the road is a show.
Surfing with shoes, gloves, balaclava and in cold water, does this change much of the usual practices?
It’s quite funny because, in the Basque Country, I get pissed off at this time of year when you have to put on all this kit, even if it’s weird to put on all of it. But doing that here in Iceland is a ritual. You tolerate it better that way. The balaclava, when I am in the Basque Country, I have the impression that it is embarrassing for the balance while here I swim. If you put your head under water, you take a big hit. (laughs).
Finding yourself in the water and sharing this journey with a professional surfer like Michel Bourez, how does it feel?
We have already surfed in the warm waters of Polynesia, here we have done it in the cold waters of Iceland and it was very cool there. We already knew each other and got along very well. We share our sports experiences, our little physical preparation recipes and also surfing. It was also funny to say “Hey, there could be an orca or a whale”… We discussed this for a long time before we went surfing. I had a bit of a fantasy of seeing the fin of a killer whale in the high seas. Michael not especially (laughs).
Has this trip made you want to explore other surf spots out of sight?
Yes, we want to push the cork a little further. We would like to do it again on a more itinerant trip to North or East Iceland. Have the flexibility of a van equipped to lie down and get up wherever you want. Keep warm too because the weather in Iceland is unpredictable, to say the least. I, who am passionate about different sports, would like to make a trip here by bicycle choosing a specific place. As I am a diver, I would like to go to this famous fault (east of Reykjavik) where the water, which comes directly from the glacier, is so transparent that you have a visibility of a hundred meters. There are a thousand adventures to live here. Plus, the food is great, the people are lovely, the show is everywhere, it’s powerful.
Can the Icelandic context be compared to that, at the other extreme, of French Polynesia?
There are many similarities because, in these two extremes, it is truly nature that sets the rules. In a very marine version, French Polynesia is the most beautiful for me when you love the sea, the fauna and flora are so rich. Iceland is the colder version with the added bonus of glaciers, volcanoes, lava and snow. Not to mention skiing while hiking on a glacier overlooking the ocean, it must be daunting. Its two ends go very well together. It’s a great combination. »