Royal 70 Surf Havana Cuba
A Cuban collective creating opportunities for Cuba's youth with extreme sports, music and art.
“You cannot stop the waves, but you can learn to surf” – Jon Kabat-Zinn This may not be one of the worlds greatest surfboards but it is one of Cuba’s first hand-shaped glass surfboards. Shaped with recycled foam from old freezers/refrigerators with a cheese grater, this board was then finished with glass and resin sourced on Cuba’s black market from boat builders in Havana. A first step for Cuba’s surf culture and future in true Cuban style.
Black Market Collective is the latest initiative from Royal 70 and Havanasurf. More than 50 years of US sanctions on the island of Cuba have forced Cubans to create and survive by a black market system through which basic necessities (limited by sanctions) are traded and purchased. This not only benefits citizens but also the nation’s government. Black Market Collective works in a similar way on an international scale, not bound by US sanctions within or outside Cuba’s borders. It is a network of passionate people with the same goal: to help surfing grow on the island and to get more kids in the water by sourcing and donating much-needed surfing equipment and educational tools. Music by The Cuban Cowboys http://www.cubancowboys.com
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
In the words of surfing’s big-wave legend Koby Abberton: “Brett Warner’s the best surfboard shaper around.” In the words of Royal 70 and the Cuban surfers: “Brett at Warner Surfboards is a f*#king legend.” Why? This Sydney-based surfboard shaper has just donated the 10 boards pictured above to the surfers and kids in Cuba without a second thought, and has also threatened to throw a few more their way. That gets 10 more kids in Cuba into the water surfing and enjoying something so many of us take for granted. Check them out at www.warnersurfboards.com and support an industry legend that is still shaping amazing boards by hand, like all true artists do.
One of Havana’s left-handers being enjoyed by one of Havana’s local surf and skate freaks Humberto… Footage by Standby Collective, La Habana, Cuba
Imagine 30 days in Cuba with no swell and a heat even too hot for the devil… Eduardo Valdes, President of the Cuban Surfriders Association leaves me on the porch of his house in the suburb of Playa to take a phone call. It’s 4.30pm on a boiling hot summer afternoon in Havana and I’ve been stuck here now for nearly a month. The days are unbelievably sweltering, the nights even worse; muggy and sticky beyond belief. You don’t get used to this kind of heat. You only learn to deal with it. Before the trip, Ed warned me not to come to Cuba in summer, they say not even the devil would visit during summer. I never listened, but every minute I spend in this heat I wish I’d heeded his advice. The power has been out all day around the neighbourhood because of the heat. It’s not unusual. Cuba’s electrical grid struggles to supply the people. As I wait for Ed to finish the phone call, a few local surfers gather on his porch, as do some neighbours. Everyone’s talking about the power outage; they are over it. No-one slept last night since there has been no electricity since then. You can’t survive a night here without air-conditioning. Cubans speak fast and I lose any hope of understanding what is creating the bursts of laughter among them. Despite the language barrier, I struggle to imagine leaving this hell I have grown to love with all its […]
Chantelle “Channy” McCoy is a Sydney Northern Beaches surfer, graphic artist and freak, who is about to give her heart and soul to South and Central America. On her travels, Channy will be heading to Cuba to spend some time with Havana’s Cubanitas, a few bottles of Havana Club and a handful of Cohibas. Cuba is visited a lot by both pro and amateur male surfers, so it’s about time Havana’s small community of female surfers are blessed with support from the likes of Channy. Check out what goes on in Channy’s head by checking out her Tumblr at www.http://wheat-barrel.tumblr.com
Only 90 miles separates Cuba from American soil, but immeasurable ideological differences have kept Cuba a relatively untapped surf destination for American surfers. Last December, in the midst of peak Hawaii season, Ian Walsh traveled to a small village on the northeast tip of Cuba. Not knowing what to expect, Walsh discovered an empty cobblestone pointbreak and that the universal appeal of surfing can transcend politics. Not many people can say they have surfed Cuba, or even traveled there for that matter. Can you give us a little background on how this trip came about? The idea for the trip had been floating around for a while. When it started coming together, it began to look like a real possibility that I’d be able to get into the country. I went in December, which is a good month for waves in Cuba, but a time of the year that I am not used to leaving Hawaii. The timing was cutting it close with the Pipe Masters and Triple Crown. Luckily, the Pipe Masters ran within the first few days of the waiting period and I was able to get a flight the day after it ended to Mexico City. From there, I flew to Cuba and drove across the whole country in a couple of days. I ended up at a tiny village where these kids surf and make their own equipment out of refrigerator foam, resin, and fiberglass from the boatyards. They’d also piece together their own surfboards from […]
It’s an amazing feeling when your footsteps are noticed by others and someone chooses to walk beside you. The New York Times story ‘Before the waves, the hurdles’ helped to create some much-needed awareness for the Cuban surfers. One person who was moved by the story in the NY Times and felt compelled to help was San Francisco’s Mike Gibbons. He packed his bags and headed to the island to educate himself first-hand on the struggles facing Havana’s surfing community. He documented his journey on a GoPro. Check it out… Ola Libre – A Waterlust film about surfing in Cuba A film by Mike Gibbons & Patrick Rynne aimed at exploring and supporting the emerging surf culture of Cuba. The non-profit organization Royal 70 (royal70.net) works to create opportunities for Cuba’s youth through extreme sports, music and art. Made possible by Jimmy Lewis Surfboards (JimmyLewis.com), StayCovered surf equipment (staycovered.com) and GoPro cameras (GoPro.com)
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
Gathering a few of Havana’s surfers together and making our way east to Megano beach just out of Havana, we spend a day pushing kids onto waves. Many of these kids hadn’t even swam in the ocean before, let alone attempted to surf. The smiles and laughter from these kids blew our minds and reminded us just how much happiness surfing can bring to the world.
YMGfilms is the creative work of a young Havana skater . Check out this little demo clip. The first 20 seconds are stunning. The clip features one of Havana’s top surfers and skaters Yojani Perez.
Havana surfer Frank Gonzales Guerra prepares to slot into some Havana heaven…
The last year or so has been a massive year for Royal 70. A few issues beyond our control forced us to drop off the radar for a while. Much of this was no thanks to some archaic politics the Cuban surfers deal with on a daily basis, but thanks to some hard work and patience we are back online and ready to get back to work supporting Cuba’s surfers and kids.
In 2008/2009 CIA backed anti-Cuban government groups used surfboards to smuggle satellite equipment into Cuba in an attempt to overthrow the Cuban government. After 50 years of endless terrorism against Cuba and its people, surfboards are now listed as a national security threat because of these actions. Two years later, Royal 70, a non-profit Cuban collective used surfboards to bring smiles to Cuba’s surfers and kids. Our project in theory was simple. We were travelling to Cuba with 18 brand new surfboards in tow with the help of Pan American Surf Association. We would cycle from Havana to Baracoa, taking kids surfing and giving away the boards along the journey, as well as documenting Cuba’s much needed support for their surfers. Three days into our trip we were robbed. Now trapped in Havana due to a lack of funds we took some time to document another one of our goals: Cuba’s environmental and coastal concerns. We retrained our focus on setting up a program to educate the island’s kids on this issue with the help of Joel Harper’s book All The Way To The Ocean. Including music by The Cuban Cowboys, Burning Spear and Joel Harper plus more.