Royal 70 Surf Havana Cuba
A Cuban collective creating opportunities for Cuba's youth with extreme sports, music and art.
Like the Revolution…Some things never die. “I will always remember the drive from the airport to Havana. The cars passing by, the people dancing in the streets, the Che billboards, and all this in the sunset light” – Ozzie Wright (Sipping Jetstreams) On leaving Cuba, Ozzie left his board with the Cuban surfers. Many years have passed and the board still lives on in Havana. Now stored in Cuba’s national aquarium it is used by local kids who do not have boards of their own to surf.
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 […]
Surfing to Baracoa is a beautiful little film that features Royal 70’s Cuban family and Havana’s surfing community. Featuring Arnan Perez Lanigua, Cuba’s first surfer to compete internationally, and US big-wave surfer Ian Walsh, it takes a look into the lives and struggles facing Cuba’s surfers.
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.
Havana surfer Frank Gonzales Guerra prepares to slot into some Havana heaven…
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.