We recently caught up with Edoardo from Chill in Ericeira Surf House, a really cool surf camp located in Ericeira, Portugal.
Where do you hail from and what brought you to Ericeira?
I’m original from Turin in Italy. It’s near the Alps where and so naturally I started out snowboarding in the Winter Olympic site of Bardonecchia.
Then thanks to some friends I had my first experience surfing when I was 14 years old in the Varazze in the Mediterranean. It’s the most well known Italian surf spot in the north west region.
As the wave consistency in the Med is pretty fickle (specially in the summer) it was an obvious decision to try convince my family and/or friends to travel and spend summer vacations in surf destinations such as Hossegor, Capbreton or Basque Country so that I could surf as much as possible.
September 2009, just before I would start my Business Administration course in the University of Turin, I had the luck to have a few weeks free due to a lecturers strike. I decided the free time to go to surfing Ericeira as I’d heard good things about it from friends.
I immediately fell in love with the place, the amazing variety of waves of the area and the local people. The surf camp where I stayed was right at the beach of Ribeira d’Ilhas and is the place where I met most of my local best friends, my future girlfriend, and business partner in the Chill In Ericeira Surf House, Daniela Machado.
After my first visit I couldn’t stay away from Ericeira and I would come back at any break I would have from uni. After doing my ISA surf certification I managed to spend my summer break as a surf teacher in the same camp where I stayed in 2009, deepening my knowledge of the local community and surf spots.
Finally after finishing my studies in 2012 I decided to move to Ericeira and try to open my own business. Together with my girlfriend Daniela and our friend/business-partner Joana Rocha (a portuguese and international female pro-surfer) we opened Chill In Ericeira Surfhouse in May 2013.
How long have you been surfing for?
I started surfing when I was 14 years old and now I’m 31 so it makes 17 years. Most of my surfing was done in Italy and so I was constrained when it came to competitive surfing. I would say my “real” surfing only started when I was 19 and could travel and spend more time surfing and putting more sessions under my belt.
What makes surfing in Ericeira so special?
It’s the variety, quality and the density of surf spots that you have in such a short stretch of coast. I think you can almost compare it to the 7 Mile Miracle of Hawaii’s North Shore.
The 8km of coastline in Ericeira has at least 11 worldclass surf spots, ranging from fun beach breaks, mellow pointbreaks, performance pointbreaks, punchy reef breaks and kamikaze slabs.
There’s an option for everyone! Every year in the off season I travel somewhere in the world to surf and I must say it’s rare when I find a surf destination that can rival Ericeira. There are really few places that I would consider to have better surf conditions.
How have things been in Ericeira since the pandemic hit?
Things have been pretty hard. Last season only started in the end of June making it 3-4 months shorter than normal. In the peak months we worked almost at full capacity but from October onward bookings slowed down again due to the new wave of the pandemic. We probably had about half of the guests we have on a normal season.
Nevertheless it has been really tough to comply with all the new rules and still offer a fun and high-quality service. Unfortunately the coming season doesn’t look much better with flights reduced/cancelled and lots of travel restrictions.
We were also lucky that Portugal was generally seen as a safe destination so lots of tourists decided to come even with the ongoing pandemic. The season was definitely less fun with no possibility to party and no bars open in town after 2300. We made the most of the situation and kept the stoke alive with surfing.
Where are most of your guests from?
We have a good mix of nationalities but the top 5 are Germans, Italians, Dutch, Swiss and Austrian.
What services does your surf camp offer?
Our main service of course are group surf lessons. We also offer individual or small groups surf coaching with Joana Rocha (ex pro surfer and female national Portuguese surf champ), SUP lessons, yoga and bike excursions. From this season we will also offer downhill biking and rock climbing.
Part of our services includes daily night life guiding to take our guests out on the town to explore the best eateries and (in pre-covid times) have a few drinks in the local bars and party at the local clubs. Once a week we also offer out delicious barbecue at the surf house.
What’s the best wave you’ve ever surfed?
I have to say that when the conditions are good the waves at Coxos are up to the level of the best waves in the world! In particular I can remember a deep barrel I had there on a big day.
I arrived a bit late and the tide was already going up (that is not ideal for Coxos) but it also means most of the crowd had left, we were just 4 or 5 people in the water and this waves approaches a friend of mine sitting deeper tries to catch it but pulls back so in a last minute decision I decide to go, in the back of my mind I was almost thinking that it was better not to go.
It was a really steep drop and I barely made it. I managed to set the line and see the wave walling up – it was either going to be a big barrel or a huge close out. Luckily it was the best barrel I can remember. People from the beach where also amazed I could make it out and my friend couldn’t believe I stuck the drop.
Longboard or shortboard?
I go with shortboard 99% of the time, but the more time passes the more I understand that to have the most fun it’s really important to choose the best board for the conditions you will surf.
It makes no sense to stress and waste energies to try surf 2 foot waves with a shortboard when you can have a lot more fun and catch more waves with a longboard.
What are your thoughts on surfing as an Olympic sport?
I’m not the biggest fan of surfing in the Olympics. It doesn’t make sense that the “supposed” best surfer of all is decided in a one spot competition and with many of the best surfers not being part of the competition as each country can only have 2 surfers.
Even more if the competition is held in a wave pool as this makes it far less interesting. The contest in the wave pool was by far the least fun to watch of the whole world tour.