Editor’s note: It’s well documented what a national treasure photographer Quinn Matthews is. And while his Europe tour of duty wasn’t without it’s hiccups and we thought we lost him, or he’d lost it, or both, he did manage to come back with some gold. The gallery and story below by Quinn are proof that he did actually get things done in between being an overzealous adolescent in Europe, with no parental supervision. —Travis
Europe’s over. The circus left a week or two ago and it’s probably pumping for all the locals. Hawaii’s next, but before that everyone’s got a little break to recompose. As I’ve said before, Europe was really cold and rainy. Hawaii should be really warm and sunny. I’m excited.
This post is about Europe though so I’ve got to talk about Europe. The morning after the final day in Portugal was supposed to be really good so some people were excited to surf. Most people weren’t going to be up early though as there was a few parties that night. I was supposed to shoot with Julian at first light though. And I had heat stroke. So I decided to drink water and be the driver, even though I don’t drive stick. The night was fun, everyone was drunk like cavemen, and I was sober. It was fun for them, and I had fun watching and tricking them. Then at 3 in the morning I decided we were leaving and rounded up my gang. Then I learned to drive stick, all by myself since everyone fell asleep and couldn’t be woken up. I didn’t stall once the whole way, beginners luck probably. 15 minutes later we were home and asleep.
Then two and a half hours later, I was awake and getting my housing ready to swim in some big, currently, heavy beachbreak. But before I left I got the report it was no good so the plan was canceled. John John was up though and excited to go surf some rivermouth so I jumped on board with him and we left from his house as the sun was rising.
Me and one of his filmers, Erik Knutson set up on one side of the river, and John drove 30 minutes around to the other side with Blake Kueny and PK. The waves were just as expected: big, heavy, strong current, and the bank was far out the back. John’s first wave was crazy with two long sections. The light was really good and the angle from across the river looked pretty cool. Then Kelly showed up on our side of the river, slipped on his suit and paddled across the wide river, racing into the ocean, pretty easily… Next thing I know a fog bank hits and you can barely make out the wave from our side of the river. Desperate for a good photo from Portugal (I’d gotten a few alright ones but nothing I was really proud of) I ran my leather shoes back to the car. Then ran across the deep sand to the edge of the river, inspired by Kelly.
It was too deep to wade across, and the pull was pretty strong and went all the way out the back. Not wanting to be sucked out with the tide into 10 foot storm surf with jeans and a t-shirt on, and a 30 pound Pelican case packed with all of my cameras and lenses, I walked 100 yards up the river and jumped in. The river was pushing me down much faster than I was swimming across, so I had to swim up stream at a slight angle towards the other side to have any chance at making it to the other side. It took about 10 minutes of swiming in my heavy clothes, since my legs were so tired from the deep sand, and I only had one arm since I was holding the Pelican case. But I finally reached the other side with about 20 yards of sand to spare before the open ocean.
It took me another 5 minutes to set-up again. John John caught a wave a minute later, snapped his leash and got washed in. So we left 10 minutes after I got to the other side. John wanted to go surf another wave so we were on the road again. With me soaking wet in the backseat.
Aloha Europe. I’m ready for Hawaii. —Quinn Matthews