Royal 70 Surf Havana Cuba
A Cuban collective creating opportunities for Cuba's youth with extreme sports, music and art.
This article originally appeared in Huck 15 – The Maya Gabeira Issue from summer 2009. As relations thaw between Cuba and the US, and talk of lifting the blockade is in the air, Huck is thinking about how the blockade has affected young people and how their lives will change if it’s lifted. In this archive piece from summer 2009, we headed to Cuba to uncover the island’s underground surf scene. Cuban surfers are among the most dedicated in the world, risking imprisonment to find materials and relying on donations from foreigners to get boards and leashes. Never mind the blockade. Psssst, psssst…” Eduardo Valdés, head of the Asociación de Surfistas de Cuba, looks uncharacteristically shifty as he peers through a wire fence, trying to attract the attention of a worker at Cuba’s national plastic factory. It’s here that the island’s chairs, tables and packaging are produced and employees, like in every industry in Cuba, supplement their meagre wages by selling the materials of their trade on the black market. Pretending to take a cigarette break, a man sidles up to the fence three metres to the left of Eduardo. Looking in opposite directions, a rapid-fire exchange takes place. “What you want?” “Three bottles of resin.” “45 CUC.” “No way, man. 30.” “40.” “35.” “Wait for me outside the bar around the corner. Give me thirty minutes. I need the money now.” Forty tense minutes later and the worker appears clutching a flimsy plastic bag containing three cylindrical […]
Havana’s ocean drive sea wall welcomes thousands of people every day, particularly during the summer months. Young people also bathe in this area of Cuba’s northern coast, even though it is technically illegal. As many Cubans and foreigners gather along this coastal strip, especially the area between the US Interests Section and Old Havana’s Prado street, the water tends to be littered with garbage that are thrown onto the reef and sea (most intensely during Havana’s summer carnivals). In response to this, the members of the Guardabosques environmental project, a group that is part of the Observatorio Critico network, and other friends have carried out clean-up campaigns in the area near Prado street. The first clean-up took place in 2010, the second in 2012 and we are planning another for August, 2014. During each of our two previous sanitation campaigns, we have pulled out more than ten sacks of garbage, bottles, paper, plastic bags, cans, broken glass, bits of driftwood and all manner of waste materials from the water. People always give us a strange look – we look “suspicious” to them – but, when they approach us and we have a chance to talk, after we explain to them why we do what we do, some help us, others praise and congratulate us and others tell us we’re crazy and that what we do is pointless. Generally speaking, we do manage to draw people’s attention to the need to avoid throwing garbage into the sea, of looking after beauty […]
These amazing guys are supporting Cuba’s surfers and kids. Check out what they are doing in the US to help. Hasta Cuba! An event raising money to provide surf gear to further Royal 70 in their mission to empower Cuban youth through surfing. Beer and Cuban Food from 6-7:30 pm Screening of Surfing with the Enemy at 7:30 pm Tickets can be purchased Samson Student Center 12-2 all week for $10, or at the door! All gear to be delivered during MIIS Cuba trip in March! For more information on Royal 70: www.royal70.net Check out the event at https://www.facebook.com/events/365992010210225/?notif_t=plan_user_invited
Royal 70 and Cuba’s small surfing family, over the years, have been blessed with some amazing support. This has included writer, musician and teacher Joel Harper and his book All the way to the Ocean. All the way to the Ocean came to life after Joel had an epiphany while riding home on his bicycle one day. He noticed the effect pollution in the storm drains was having in his community. He realised he needed to do something meaningful with his talents to help change the way people interacted with their environment. Joel’s vision became a reality with his popular children’s book and social anthem, All the Way to the Ocean in 2006. Today, Joel is working with his partners at Mediatavern to take his idea to the next level, and tell his story in an even more powerful way. Animation. Check out this snippet from the amazing track by Joel and leading Rastafarian/reggae artist Burning Spear featured in the upcoming movie based on Joel’s book. www.allthewaytotheocean.com The Time is Now – Burning Spear & Joel Harper Purchase The Time is Now here | iTunes
Something that is very important to us at Royal 70 is the education of Cuba’s surfers and kids on protecting their ocean environment. Having spent a lot of time on Havana’s beaches and waterways, we decided to work with local surfers to achieve this goal. For this on-going project, the children’s book, All The Way to the Ocean, is helping us to convey important messages about environmental conservation, with the permission and support of its author, Joel Harper. All the Way to the Ocean is an amazing book that sets out to teach kids about the damage caused to our oceans and environment through the rubbish that enters stormwater drains. Written by musician/author/surfer Joel Harper and sweetly illustrated by Marg Spusta, the story is about two young skater friends, Issac and James, who become aware of the effect we have on our planet’s fragile eco-system when one of the boys innocently tosses away a candy wrapper. While this book is a delight to look at, thanks to Spusta’s illustrations, it also reminds us to be more responsible when it comes to protecting the planet for future generations. It’s educational reading for kids and a solemn reminder for adults that the protection of our oceans and environment is an important lesson for us all to heed. A portion of the funds from the sale of the book will also go towards helping the work of the Surfrider Foundation. You can check out and buy the book at www.allthewaytotheocean.com