The Cleanest Line

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    Kiteboarding for a Cause

    By Jessica Salcido

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    For the past few years, a small group of kiters here at Patagonia have participated in Kiteboarding 4 Cancer, a spectacularly beautiful kite race in Hood River, Oregon designed to raise money for the survivor-focused nonprofit, Athletes 4 Cancer.

    Cancer has impacted all of our lives—we’ve loved and cared for friends, family, co-workers and acquaintances battling the disease. We know about the treatments, the medications, the prognoses. For survivors, however, life after cancer looks quite a bit different from the lives they put on hold. When treatment concludes survivors must bravely discover their new “normal” in a world where others can’t possibly relate to their unique situations. Often, with little traditional medical support, they must navigate an entirely new physical and emotional landscape, complete with physical challenges, changes in appearance and a lingering uncertainty about the future.

    That’s where Athletes 4 Cancer (A4C) steps in. This nonprofit is dedicated to sending cancer survivors to outdoor adventure camps. More than just another cancer support group, Athletes 4 Cancer’s Camp Koru utilizes the transformational power of nature and the spirit of determination required by outdoor sports to restore and rebuild lives after cancer.

    Above: Aerial view of the colorful chaos. Hood River, Oregon. Photo: Richard Hallman

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    Ten Tuamotus Days – Empowering the sisterhood

    By Liz Clark

    Last year I got to meet fellow Patagonia ambassadors Kimi Werner and Léa Brassy for the first time. Patagonia kindly arranged for all of us to meet upon the waters of some remote atolls in French Polynesia that have come to be my beloved backyard and playground. From all that I knew about them, I expected we’d have an enjoyable time but I never imagined that we would connect in such a way that, by the end of our time together, it felt like I had gained two sisters.

    All three of us enjoy very similar things—wilderness, wildlife, waves, conscious eating, etc.—but I feel like it was our open minds and hearts that made this time together so genuine and so special. Whether we were diving, sharing waves, giggling under the stars at night, wandering on the motu looking for coconuts or just watching the seabirds circle and dive, it was like they saw exactly what I saw: divinity, freedom, peace, respect. Being with Kimi and Léa in nature felt like being completely understood.

    Above:  the four-video series documenting Liz, Léa and Kimi’s time together in French Polynesia. Videos: Patagonia

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    The Rescue Box

    By Tom Doidge-Harrison

    Photo credit Tom Doidge Harrison 

    In its deep summer slumber, it is hard to gauge the latent fury this place can serve up to the unsuspecting. There are, however, clues to the power of this landscape that can both give and take in equal measure. The weathered faces of naked shale give evidence to deadly drops of tonnage. The natural order of the rounded boulders, hewn from the limestone shelf that extends at sea level, hints at unseen forces liberally applying Newton’s first law of motion to provide a natural floor, devoid of scale from most vantage points. But much of this runs in the background, as eyes are drawn to the beauty of the place itself.

    The Cliffs of Moher are one of Ireland’s most cherished landmarks and for good reason. Numerous miles of stacked sea cliffs, gloriously abundant with bird life, are arranged such that each bluff and headland is curiously framed by the next. The beauty, as most surfers are well aware, extends out to sea a few hundred meters where deep lengthy lines of North Atlantic grunt are pulled into form atop a perfect anomaly of faults and features in the bedrock. Aileen’s is a wonder in a wonderous corner of the world’s original ‘island.’

    Above: The dangerously beautiful Cliffs of Moher, Ireland. Photo: Tom Doidge-Harrison 

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    For the Love of Honey

    By Hank Gaskell

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    His hands were unlike other farmers. Not calloused, hard, cracked and stiff, but broad, flexible and quick. He seemed not to mind the thick white suit we were both wearing or the suffocating screen helmet. I felt like I was going to melt away.

    The deeply forested Waiho‘i Valley on Maui has countless wild bee hives that are vital to the flowering ecosystem. Avocado, mango, guava, ohia, rainbow eucalyptus and wild ginger thrive in fertile soil that’s fragmented by dark lava veins. The Kapia stream ribbons down through it all towards the ocean. At the base of the valley, nestled in a dead mango stump, a hive plagued a local fisherman and his family.

    The gnarled location of the hive forced my friend Kenny to be more attuned and work more smoothly than usual—he had been doing this for twenty years. When the bees attacked he remained calm and focused. With surgeon-like precision he worked the hive, angling the box and gently adjusting the combs to fit snugly. His movements were clever and patient yet eager. The white suit clung to my sweaty skin, making it easier for the bees to sting me, but I watched intently. I was hooked.

    Above: My girlfriend Malia and I inspect a frame from one of our hives to see if it’s ready to harvest. Hana, Hawai‘i. Photo: Anna Riedel

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    The Chase: a tiny film

    By RC Cone

    Honestly, we went to Iceland to catch big fish. It was that simple. We wanted to bask in the late Arctic sun while bringing dreamy meter-long Atlantic salmon to hand. We wanted to drink whiskey afterwards, go to bed and do it again every day we could. What surprised us wasn’t our ability to check that mission off the list it was the insignificance that those goals held compared to what we actually discovered. The Chase: a tiny film is an ode to the friendships and experiences that were shared while chasing our passions.

    Above: The Chase: a tiny film. Video: Tributaries Digital Cinema

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    Mundaka: Surf but don’t touch

    By Tony Butt

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    When the first surfers turned up at Mundaka around the late 1960s and set their eyes upon those perfect lefthanders, they had no reason to think the waves wouldn’t be there forever. Almost half a century later, we now know that Mundaka is a very special wave, perhaps unique in the world; not just because of its perfection, power or length, but because of the miraculous circumstances that made it the way it is. Sure, there are waves just as long and hollow as Mundaka, but the vast majority break on immovable rock or coral platforms. Mundaka, on the other hand, relies on a rivermouth sandbar.

    In the early days, the overriding concern was how the surfers themselves could make the best of the wave. How could they improve board design and riding techniques to get in and out of those freight-train barrels as easily as possible? They had no idea that the principal concern would eventually turn from dominating the wave to protecting it.

    This article isn’t just about Mundaka, although Mundaka is the central theme running through it. It is also about estuarine systems, chaos, Nature and us.

    Above: The Mundaka sandbar behaving itself, winter 2014-15. Spain. Photo: Javi Muñoz

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    The Fisherman’s Son – My vision for Punta de Lobos

    By Ramón Navarro

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    When I was growing up I wanted to help my dad, and be exactly like him: a fisherman. Then a couple of guys blew into town with surfboards and wetsuits and I said, "Wow, this is amazing," and then I wanted to learn to surf more than anything in the world.

    So I learned to surf and started to travel the world, but I figured out pretty fast that the best place to surf was right at home. We have big waves, small waves and the traditional fishing culture I love. Nothing could be better.

    While traveling, I saw many similar coasts around the world that had been polluted or were scarred forever by out-of-control developers. I saw places that were pristine before, but had already been ruined. I realized the coast that I loved so much was also under threat—from pulp mills, sewage pipelines, dams and senseless development.

    Above: Ramón and his dad, Alejandro, organize their gear. Photo: Jeff Johnson

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    Amelia the Tropicat: A Swell Companion [Updated]

    By Liz Clark, captain of Swell

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    I’ve had a few pets on Swell over the last nine years—most of them made their way aboard on their own. I don’t mind the geckos that often show up in a banana stock. They hide, so I rarely get to see them, but they are harmless and make cute coughing noises in the evening. I’ve hosted a wide variety of ants—from teeny fuzzy black ones to enormous shiny red ones. A roving wasp colony lives in my spinnaker pole from time to time, but we tend to give each other our space. Once a cricket turned up out of nowhere. I never saw him, but I adored his evening serenades until the day they were no more. While I was away on a trip to California, a newlywed rat couple from the boatyard where Swell was hauled moved aboard and raised four handsome rat babies who explored, chewed and pooped inside Swell from bow to stern. Their story had a rather gruesome ending … same song for the prolific cockroach family that sailed with me to Kiribati.

    Above: Liz Clark and her cat, Amelia, head back to Swell (outfitted with a kitty ladder in case water-loathing Amelia falls in the drink). Photo: Jody MacDonald

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    Simply Southern Chile

    By Hank Gaskell

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    After my second trip to Southern Chile this past July, I have absolutely fallen in love with its simple way of life. More and more nowadays, it seems there is so much going on that it’s impossible to get ahead. Chile doesn’t know or care about that. Life there is content to just continue rolling at a steady pace, no one is ahead and no one is behind. Everyone is family. Our crew did a good job stepping back from our busy day-to-day lives to emulate the Chilean way. For two weeks, our “family” consisted of Otto Flores, Eala Stewart, Ramon Navarro, photographer Dylan Gordon, videographer Rodrigo Farias and my girlfriend Malia. Huge thank you to all; what a group of top-notch humans!

    Above: This is Eala and I negotiating a sketchy water entrance off the point in Buchupureo. Photo: Dylan Gordon

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    Inner(lost) Limits of Pure Fun – Never-before-seen footage from George Greenough

    By Devon Howard

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    There are only a few people that have truly played a pivotal role in the advancement of surfboard design, people whose contribution was so impactful that it changed surfing in massive ways forever. George Greenough would make any surf buff’s list as one of the greats, but for me I’m comfortable saying he’s flat-out the greatest innovator of all time.

    Since his youthful days of growing up around Santa Barbara in the ‘50s and early ‘60s, George has been a tinkerer on any sort of equipment. Whether it was go-karts or surfboards or boats or water housings for his cameras, he was always fascinated with improving their performance. He is the ultimate DIY guy, including his infamous self-shaped bowl cut. Motivated by making things better, and not for a quick buck, he was (and still is) intrinsically driven to search for and build any sort of design advantage or improvement that would lead to a better ride or capturing a unique image.

    His most notable contributions to surfing were twofold, but each one is utterly connected to the other.

    Above: Screen grab from George Greenough - Deep Tube Riding, lost 16mm waveriding footage from the late ‘60s. Watch the video after the jump.

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