Sports Gazette

by sports journalism students at St Mary's University, London

Kepa Acero on his new life in surfing: “When you travel alone, your head thinks differently”

Posted on 13 May 2020 by Maitane Alaña Place

In a region like the Basque Country where surfing is an important sport, Kepa Acero decided he was not a man of competition. “We try to enjoy everything we do”, he says.

Photo by Edu Bartolomé

Kepa Acero is a professional surfer and explorer who tells his stories on video from all around the world. Committed with nature, he tries to make his own contribution while away looking for waves. In the past years, he’s been to Africa or Alaska to recycle old plastic from the shores and beaches. 

Acero started surfing with his brothers in the Basque Country, competing in local events but ten years ago, he realized this world wasn’t for him. He liked the essence of the sport, but he preferred to travel and enjoy the whole experience, not just for the prize.

He admits he has had two turning points, one in 2010, when he travelled alone for the first time and another in 2017.

Photo by Edu Bartolomé

His first trip was to Namibia, which was part of a larger project called “Cinco olas, Cinco continentes” (Five waves, Five continents). “I got hocked to finding my own way around”, the surfer said. 

In this first experience, he started filming his adventures in the African desert as well as his own thoughts. “The next day, the video had over 30,000 views on YouTube. A new way of storytelling had begun”, he explains.

This project took Acero to Indonesia, Australia and Chile. “This project was well-received, so sponsors started believing in me.”

His passion around the world

Acero’s motivation has always been to look for waves around the globe. “It’s a risk you have to take, and at the same time, it’s a pleasure.” Surfers, like the Basque, study Google Earth’s meteorological side, where they can see how the sea is in a certain part of the world.

When asked about their inner strength to carry one, Acero confesses: “We’ll probably be the last romantics on the Earth. Most people from outside this profession don’t usually understand it.” 

But, this passion has also had its downsides for him. Kepa Acero suffered a very serious accident in 2017. As he wrote on his Facebook page, it was as if he was reborn a second time.  

Solo puedo empezar este post agradeciendo a tod@s los que me habéis acompañado en estos días tan duros que me ha tocado…

Posted by Kepa Acero on Friday, 6 January 2017

During his time in hospital, where he laid with two broken vertebrae and one dorsal, and a displaced cervical, he thought about his life. “I made a list of priorities, where risking my life for waves wasn’t at the top anymore.” But, ironically, Acero was surfing again a month and a half later. 

Kepa Acero still packs a bag and embarks on surf journeys, but his solidarity has risen and the power and possibilities he has in the industry has led him to different projects. However, “I should take vaccines into more consideration”, when at the time of the interview he was recovering from Hepatitis B. 

“I wouldn’t know what I would do if I stopped surfing, but definitely something related to it, and which made me happy.”

Kepa Acero’s last film documentary about the Northern tour of the Camino de Santiago was presented in Sopela, Biscay in January. It’s now showing on RTVE, check it out here: https://www.rtve.es/alacarta/videos/caminando-sobre-las-olas/estreno-caminando-olas-kepa-acero/5558776/

 

More surf stories: 

https://sportsgazette.co.uk/leticia-canales-fights-place-olympic-games-surf-included-first-time/

https://sportsgazette.co.uk/natxo-gonzalez-the-first-man-to-get-a-10-in-nazare/