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The Inertia

Is there a genetic code for being a barrel hound or is it a nurtured skill? Nature or nurture? Nature or nurture?

Surely, waves break all over the world but there are some places where individuals regularly surf at a higher level, be it surfing heavier waves, finding their way in and out of barrels, or making their faces look like the bowls of a skate park. Spain’s Basque Country is, for many reasons, a breeding ground for those that know barrels, are comfortable in and around them, and like them heavy. And while the waves there do fit the bill, it’s just as easy to fuel a fascination with the culture that fostered all this — a culture that loves its sports, encourages wiping out, and produces talents like Natxo Gonzalez.

If you want to watch 30 minutes of Mundaka and Puta Roca and other Basque gems, your thirst will be quenched here. But Red Bull’s new documentary Made in Basque Country is a genuinely beautiful portrait of the people that surf its waves. Highlighting Gonzalez as one of the region’s standouts (because he really is), the film follows some of the relationships individuals have with its most recognizable waves while digging a little bit into the lesser-known spots as well. At each stop, each town, Natxo links up with a local who shares their own versions of Basque history. Will you watch this and want to visit Spain’s Basque country as soon as the planet goes back to life as usual? Yes. But maybe just as important, some first-hand accounts of surf history will send you away with an even deeper appreciation for whatever local surf culture you’ve decided to visit.

Many of us have a lot of free time on our hands right about now. It’s a weird feeling, but these are 10 minutes that can be well spent.

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