It’s no surprise to hear that there are Russian surfers. Most of us have met a few on our travels – usually somewhere tropical. What’s less well known is the wealth of surfing terrain that Russia is holding. Priboi, premiering at this year’s London Surf / Film Festival Oct 10th – 13th, sets out to lift the lid on one of surfing’s last undiscovered frontiers. Tickets are available HERE: 

Told through stunning cinematography and over mind blowing distances, this is certainly a surf movie that blows the usual stereotypes out of the water. We caught up with surfer and filmmaker Sergey Rasshivaev to find out more.

“When we started this project the idea was to show the world the people who surf in Russia – and the places they surf,” explains Sergey. “Many people don’t believe it’s possible to surf here. But the waves, the people, it all exists.” In Priboi, Sergey and his filmmaking partner Konstantin Kokorev, take the viewer on a journey across the vastness of the Russian continent – and what they reveal is pretty mind blowing. There are surfable coastlines on the Baltic, Barents, Black and Caspian Seas all the way to the Pacific – from European to Asia – from 6mil suits to boardshorts.

I ask him how people reacted when they turned up to surf at many of these spots. “People were in shock,” he explains. “Even when we come to surf in their town. Some of them tell us it’s impossible. After watching how we do it, everything changes for them. When the people watch our film, they start to believe not only they can surf, but they can do anything that they dream about. That’s was main idea of the film.”

With such a vast landscape, it was no overnight project. “The Surf Siberia project has been about 5 years, while the movie we work about two years.” When you see surfers wading through knee deep slow in a blizzard, or using a skidoo to reach the breaks, that is serious commitment. I ask what the hardest part of the project has been. “If we talk about the trips – the Arctic and Kuril Islands,” Sergey explains. “It was the most dangerous situation there. But the hardest part was not filming and expedition. This project was self-financed and to find support to keep working was a big deal – so thanks everybody who helped us.”

In many parts of the world the surfing bug bites pretty hard when it becomes established. I ask how big the surf communities are in Russia now. “It’s difficult to say really,” he says. “But this summer I counted at one spot in Finland Bay, near to Saint Petersburg, over a 100 people at the same time in the water. So overall I’d say there are a few thousand… but who knows.”

Hosted 10-13 October 2018 at London’s iconic Regent Street Cinema we’re bringing to the UK a handpicked line up representing the pinnacle of contemporary surfing – documentaries to inspire, travelogues to stir up the wanderlust and of course some of the most mind blowing surfing.

Photos: ©taniaelisarieva