Hugo Pinheiro and Mike Stewart embark on an Iceland slab hunt

December 11, 2019 | Bodyboarding
Hugo Pinheiro: surfing a slab somewhere in Iceland | Photo: Magnusson/Red Bull

Hugo Pinheiro decided to swap his hometown sunshine for the cold and inhospitable waters of Iceland.

The Portuguese bodyboarder embarked on a trip in search of the perfect unconquered Nordic wave.

The Costa da Caparica native honed his surf skills in Portugal before cementing his place in the big leagues with back-to-back European titles in 2003 and 2004.

Pinheiro's thirst for big adventures started in 2015 when he became the first to ride Mar da Calha, a wave that breaks where the Atlantic Ocean meets the Tejo River, in Lisbon.

Iceland: who said Nordic nations don't deliver perfect waves? | Photo: Magnusson/Red Bull

The Portuguese rider, who competed on the World Tour until 2016, set out on his latest adventure to surf a never surfed before wave in one of the wildest places in the world.

Not a country known for its surfing, Iceland is usually in the middle of North Atlantic storms and thus houses hard, freezing waves yet to be tackled by surfers.

The daredevil set his sights on finding a slab - a wave that repels most people but attracts individuals that see opportunity in fear and the unknown.

"How many times do we venture outside of our comfort zone? The cold is undoubtedly my uncomfortable place," explained Pinheiro.

Hugo Pinheiro: chasing a cold water beauty in Iceland | Photo: Nunes/Red Bull

"There is no way we can travel into this part of the world without preparation, and without the right equipment."

"Here, Nature is not forgiving, and the human body simply can't stand it. I went in search of never-surfed-before waves and brought one of the most amazing moments of my life."

Salt from Pipe Mixed in Iceland Surf

Pinheiro, 38, set off to conquer one with local thrill-seeking surfer Heidar Logi and nine-time bodyboarding world champion Mike Stewart.

"After being in Fiji for two weeks, I flew back to Hawaii in time to enter the Pipeline bodysurfing event. With short notice, I was told the trip was on," explained Stewart.

Mike Stewart: from the warm waters of Pipeline to the frozen slabs of Iceland | Photo: Nunes/Red Bull

"Straight from the comp, I went to the airport. Some hours later, I landed in Iceland and got straight into the surf. I am pretty sure this would have been the first time salt from Pipe was mixed in Iceland surf."

"There is a saying in Iceland if you don't like the weather wait five minutes. It's amazing how true this saying is."

"On my last day, I surfed in snow, rain, sun, wind, glass, offshore, and onshore. And this all happened a number of times during a few hour session."

"Weather and swells move very fast here and are exceedingly hard to predict. As good as the charts could be, we pulled the trigger. We did score some really fun surf thanks to Heidar Logi - but no massive death slabs," concluded Stewart.

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