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fotona-openerguilleapandoWhat do longboarders from Málaga, California, Asturias, Tahiti, Devon and the Canary Islands have in common? That come the first weekend of August many of them will meet –along with hundreds others- in Salinas (Asturias, north coast of Spain) for another Festival de Salinas de Longboard.

Celebrating its eighth anniversary this past August, the Vans Longboard Festival de Salinas 2009 has clearly become much more than a longboarding contest: it is, now more than ever, a gathering of the longboarding clans.

It all started eight summers ago when a small group of longboarders from Salinas (near Avilés, one of the beaches with a longest surfing tradition in northern Spain) decided to organize a longboard gathering/competition among friends. They wanted their little meeting to somehow mark the start of the summer vacations, so they decided that it should always be held on the very first weekend in August, when 98% of the Spanish population starts its well-deserved summer break. That first festival was an extremely informal event, not subjected to the rules of any international or national surfing body (and still is… mainly) and with a lovely tradition that has grown exponentially over the years: La Fotona. La Fotona (the big photo) is a group photo of all the surfers who make the journey to Salinas, posing along the beach, one next to each other and standing proudly in front of their weapon (log) of choice. Lately, and because of the huge numbers of attendees, a front row has had to be improvised otherwise not even the widest lenses can capture everyone.

fotona-bodyguilleapando

Guille‘s version of La Fotona 2009. For more pictures of Salinas by Guille check HERE.

Salinas has everything to offer: a longboard contest that runs along the rules of any other contest (mix of traditional and modern longboarding), a couple of expression sessions, several board tests, some entertainment for the children (many longboarders bring their whole families in tow), crazy music nights with life bands until the wee hours of the morning (after all this is Spain), a couple of barbeques (Hawaiian shirt recommended), a couple of surf flicks normally screened either on the beach or by the pine forest, a night surf session, a huge grass camping area and a village with sponsors tents.

Many a big surfing name has visited Salinas over the years: Beau Young, Alex Knost, Mitch Abshire, Joel Tudor, Tom Wegener… and that’s only from overseas, as many a top longboarder from France, UK, Portugal and Spain visit regularly. You want to surf by yourself on your first holiday weekend? Don’t come to Salinas. Point in case: this year up to 399 longboarders signed themselves in… on top of which you should add lots of girlfriends, wives, husbands, boyfriends and children. And in spite of the somewhat funky sandbanks -and a day of strong winds and rain- they surfed lots (some in heats, most not), they drank beer (lots) and they danced to the sounds of The Fakeband and the Kings of Makaha (Smile couldn’t play due to bad weather). On top of that they checked the visiting pros and their styles, they met their heroes (Tudor, Knost…), they learnt how to shape an alaia courtesy of Tom Wegener, they watched some movies (The Present, Picaresque…) and hung out with each other. It is so addictive that –every year- some of the usual suspects drive over ten hours just to be there that weekend… before driving back those same hours on Sunday night in order to be at work on Monday morning; they are part of that 2% of the Spanish population that doesn’t start their summer holidays on August the 1st.

So now you know: what started as a little gathering of friends has become the biggest longboard event in Europe. Maybe not for the prize money nor the points and the rankings, but for the stoke it transmits to all the attendees. And be warned: it gets highly addictive.

To watch some fo the best photos of the 2009 Festival de Salinas visit the gallery of local photographer Guille A. Pando HERE.

Niegà

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