Monday, September 15, 2014

Big Wave Challenge: Alena Ehrenbold

These last days I've been documenting a new project with Swiss surfer Alena Ehrenbold. An amazing natural sports woman actually living in Switzerland all year long. She surfs whenever she can and her job as an economist teacher allows her to go away. This is not her first time filming, as she already got involved in the project "I wanna surf". A documentary showing the situation of Swiss surfers and their struggle to do what they love most: Surfing.

The Swiss television contacted Alena with a new project about big wave surfing, were the legendary basque surfer Ibon Amaitrain will be her trainer for this amazing challenge.

For the moment there's no big wave surfing at the Basque Country. In fact there's no surf at all, as we're having a late summer along with a very flat ocean.

This September session was all about how Ibon's gonna train Alena, and checking out the spot where the big challenge will be held probably in November.

I can't wait to see Alena catching her first wave. I think I have in front of me the next Keala Kennelly and I'm so happy to document all this with my camera! I feel so grateful and truly excited for her.

You can see more pics about the project in my Facebook fan page.

Please, stay tuned for the November session and have a great week!!

Alena and Ibon first met in Zarautz beach. From the very first moment Alena and Ibon met, we could tell a great connection has been set. It also helps Alena speaks a few languages including Spanish..
Ibon start with the very basics. Breathing techniques.
Is important to feel your stomach while you breath.
You can see Alena is all stoked to be trained by Ibon. In fact she never received any surf training before. Pretty amazing for a Swiss surfer that actually lives in Switzerland all year long.

Breath in...

Alena listens very carefully to Ibon's paddling technique.
While filming the rest of the production crew lies in the beach surrounded by nudists... !!! Here Theresa of the Swiss TV, Artzai and Imanol Yeregi, a big wave charger also training full time with Ibon.
Imanol was doing great getting some bombs at the big swell we had last winter here in the Basque Country. He doesn't like tow-in, he prefers to paddle all his waves. Way to go chamaco!
Time to go get in the water and practice paddling, breathing and diving exercises.

Posing for the camera

No calmed sea made a skilled sailor. That's why she'll have to train very hard back in Switzerland. That will be the biggest challenge of this project

While they train, some people are fishing and enjoying the flat conditions. Actually for the movie will be great to see the big difference of weather and waves conditions from September to November when she gets her first big wave ride.

Speed paddling

Alena is always so smiley! All the crew really enjoyed her presence.

Now is about running. One lap with air, one lap with no air. A few repetitions.

First laps are easy to do... While they run we enjoy the great sunset at Zarautz beach

Alena's very strong, but last laps without air are difficult. She couldn't last to the end of the exercise

Alright, time for some core exercises to help to build the strength

Some plank repetitions in a beautiful sunset at the beach.

Ibon explains all the plank and abdos routine for Alena

Alena has to work lifting weight too. Ibon's so glad to hear she knows the technique as she was a big athlete. She used to compete at the athletics discipline before she fell in love with surfing! 
After this, is all good for day one. Tomorrow will be all about surf technique and working the tow-in with a jet-ski.

Day two seems to be a great day. Ibon starts his training with some skating. Another first for Alena. She never got into a skateboard before!

Ibon points out the importance of skating to practice all the surfing moves needed in the water.

Great control for a first time!

Splendid light for filming

Bottom turn, then.. UP!

Bar exercises for balance, core strength and coordination 

Artazi, part of the basque production crew outside Pukas store in Zarautz. Artzai met Alena last year in Hawaii and suggested she should be trained by Ibon for this project. Apart of the project, he also manages some great surfers like Aritz Aranburu, the only Basque- Spanish surfer at the WCT of Surf.

This is Aritz's Aranburu VW van. He was so nice to let us use it for this project while he's in California competing at the Hurley Pro. This "California" model is a dream! Thanks Aritz!

In the road to the big wave spot Alena explain us her adventures. She also had the opportunity to have a van like this offered by VW, but as she's living full time in Switzerland there was no point of having it.
That's why me and Theresa of the Swiss TV are trying to convince her to move around this area!

This is "Roka Puta". Ibon explains Alena how the wave breaks and what she has to do when the jet-ski drops her off the right point. This is a right hander, perfect for Alena regular surf.

So, Alena, where you had your biggest ride so far? Nicaragua she said, even though she surfed Pipeline last year. I can't wait to see her surf in Roka Puta

Ibon has a great smile too!
Theresa making a photo of me photographing her
Big waves discussion while Mikel films everything. Mikel is a brilliant camera man and also a great long boarder from Zarautz doing any kind of filming projects, mostly for the surf scene.

Theresa makes a little interview of Alena's impression before she gets her first jet-ski ride

Is time to jump into the jet-ski. We are in Getaria's port setting everything up

I'm in love with this yellow van!! Getaria's port is so beautiful today

Great colors for photos!

Life from inside the van looks good too

Van life is the best

Ok, time to practice that tow-in!
The views are fantastic and Alena catches the technique very fast. Another first for her!

Drop off in the spot
And now, let go! She's doing great, we're all impressed!

Practicing the rescue hand to hand
After a few turns is time for some final interviews with the impressions of the September session

We're at Aritz Aranburu's house filming the last interviews. Here Ibon's being asked about Alena's performance. He's stoked to have such an advanced student, but points out the importance of training hard back in Switzerland. Also the conditions in November will be very different, Alena has to prove then what she's made of

Mikel explains to a nervous Ibon, the structure of the interview and what are the points to highlight of Alena's training.

While that, Artzai shows Theresa and Aitor some new project he's doing with Aritz Aranburu for Canal +. Stay tuned in this beautiful project!

Alena's waiting for her interview

Alena explains her impressions of Ibon's first days of training and the big wave challenge

One thing is certain. Alena can't hide her happiness receiving training for the first time. She's not scared of big waves, so half of the job is done. Let's see how she does in November. I think we're in the presence of the next European big wave girl charger!! You go girl!!