Finland may be a long way from Hawaii but the surf’s up in this Nordic country. And it is a little bit Kaurismäki. Just like the acclaimed filmmaking brothers Aki and Mika, Finnish surfing is wild and eccentric.
You might, for instance, spot a Finn riding the wake of an Estonian-bound ferry. Or surfing through a tempest. But Finnish surfing isn’t just a crazy sport. There are serious aficionados here. It is, however, for the intrepid. This is cold water surfing and there are no bikinis. Only wetsuits. Finland’s obsession with surfing began in the 80s. Back then it was windsurfing. Inspired by legends like Robby Naish in Hawaii and Jurgen Hönscheid on the North Sea in Germany, a group of local kids in the country’s south started to dream of jumping the waves.
Coast and Archipelago
Coastal Finland with its stunningly beautiful archipelago offers a variety of fascinating destinations that are easy to reach.
When Robby Naish came to Hanko for the 1982 world windsurfing championships and ran into the water with his board, flying straight over a giant buoy, there was no turning back. The locals began doing tricks that were unheard of in Finland. And started making their own boards. The love affair was sealed.
Hanko as a surfing destination
At a latitude of 59 degrees north, Hanko is surrounded on three sides by open water and lots of good beaches. The wind blows often here. For these reasons, it became an early surfing mecca. On a good south-easterly day there might be twenty or thirty surf wagons at Tullstrand Beach. Out there in the Finnish waves, the boys and girls getting caught up in the “washing machine” were transported to Maui.
People said you could never surf in Finland. That the waves weren’t good enough. Pioneers like Jukka Hentu and Tapio Kuittinen proved them wrong and now a younger generation share their passion for the sport. Today, kite surfing is more popular than old-school windsurfing. On a windy day in Hanko the sky is a brilliant sight to behold. Dozens of brightly coloured kites skirt the wind and waves. It’s a beautiful dance and is definitely worth the trip to Hanko, whether to watch or participate!
Surfing season in Finland starts as soon as the ice melts and continues until the ice comes back. As simple as that.
However, if you can’t wait until the spring, why not try various kinds of snow kiting?