Andrew Cotton on a boat on the Scandinavian coast

Blog - Edge of the Arctic - A Scandinavian Strike Mission with Andrew Cotton

Edge of the Arctic - A Scandinavian Strike Mission with Andrew Cotton

8 minute read

Big wave season has officially ended for another year. But just when you think the fun is over until October, we’ve got the lowdown on an epic adventure involving a decade-long dream in the making.

Earlier this spring, one of the legends of the sport and dryrobe® Ambassador Andrew Cotton set out on a last-minute strike mission with friends Freddie Meadows, Nic von Rupp, Magnus Nordmo, and filmmaker Morgan Maassen.

Three guys sat on a boat smiling

The location? Voyaging the Scandinavian coast of the Arctic Circle. Surrounded by the most astounding snow-covered landscapes, the adventure was fuelled by Freddie’s dream to ride the biggest wave in Scandinavia.

Thawed out from the coldest conditions he’s experienced to date, we were excited to speak to Cotty about this unbelievable trip and the big waves the crew was searching for.

Snowy mountains by the sea

What was the trip and how did it come about?
I went there to score this wave that one of my friends, Freddie Meadows, has been talking about for a couple of years, but he never really managed to put it together. It’s a big wave spot in the Artic Circle which is remote, really hard to get to, and quite a tricky place.

I just said I’d go and support him however I could. So we had a little window and a swell popped up and we made a last-minute dash to score the wave - which we did. And Freddie got the biggest wave ever surfed in that area for sure.

Andrew Cotton wearing a dryrobe on a boat talking into a radio

Then we carried on exploring and it was two weeks of being really cold and having an amazing adventure looking at places we just thought had potential for waves.

There are so many islands and there are so many bits of rock along that coastline, it’s just insane. It was just a real sense of adventure exploring unchartered waves.

But this is something that Freddie has been doing for the last 10 years, and it was my first time to get that opportunity. We found some amazing waves, but there’s definitely more out there to be discovered.

People on a boat in Scandinavia with surfboards on the deck

Do you think you’d go back again?
Yeah definitely. Freddie named it RÁN and he’s been scoping that wave for 10 or so years and he’s only just last month managed to surf it. But I’m sure that, number one, the wave gets bigger, and number two, there are other waves out there for sure.

A surfer in a winter wetsuit and hood climbing off a boat into the sea carrying a surfboard

I’d love to go back. If there’s anywhere that’s dryrobe® territory it’s definitely out there! It was so cold. I was using the dryrobe® daily - I was using it all the time, not just for surfing but for everything - it became my standard coat.

You had to be strategic and organised to be warm but the surf was just nuts… It was really fun and I really enjoyed it.

A surfer sat in the sea watching a huge wave break in the distance

How cold was it out there?
I think the water is 2 degrees? But it’s the air temperature that was nuts - so getting in and out of wetsuits, just trying to keep your hands and your feet warm.

We were in the middle of nowhere, so it wasn’t like on boats and jet skis, we lost all the comforts, like a warm car, we were really out on a limb. But it felt good to suffer a little bit. I think sometimes everything becomes so easy, and it sort of took me back to the first few years hanging out in Ireland, and it was all new and long missions in the middle of nowhere and it was freezing cold. It was sort of an extreme version of that.

A surfer riding a big wave in Scandinavia

Before you went did you think it was going to be that challenging in terms of the cold?
Before we went, when Freddie was talking to me about it he spoke a lot about what he’s been doing in that area and I sort of didn’t understand how cold it was.

And I was just thinking, ‘Aw I’ll just take my stuff that I’m using in Portugal.’ Like a 5mm wetsuit and 2mm gloves.

And then luckily we spoke about it and then it started sinking in and actually, my partner Justine said ‘Do you realise how cold it is?’ And I didn’t really know, and she’s a skier and a snowboarder. She picked up a weather chart of one of the ski places and she was like, ‘It’s minus 17!’

A surfer riding a big wave in the Arctic Circle

And I was like ‘F**k! Woah.’ And then I had to order some proper thick gloves, some extra thick boots, and a different wetsuit. Then it got a little bit real - like, it was going to be hardcore.

So I had to prepare a little bit. I think it was the coldest water place I’ve ever surfed, but it was doable. Yeah, you’re not having multiple surfs a day but the adventure side of that outweighs all of that. So the hours you’re actually surfing are less, but it was such an adventure I think that just magnifies it.

A surfer in a dryrobe warming up on a boat after surfing

How did you search for the waves?
It’s like searching any waves. A lot of it is done on Google Maps and then looking at sea charts and the typography of the seabed. So, just by looking at Google Maps, you’re going to have an idea about where there could be waves.

Then you look at places where you know there are waves and look at how they look on Google Maps and typography charts and then you sort of mix and match things from different places.

A surfer stood next to a jet ski

There’s a lot of searching and a lot of time spent travelling compared to actually surfing but that’s how those trips are. I think, especially with what I do, we all go on things like strike missions, so you only go somewhere if you know it’s going to be good but that means you’re reacting quickly and always rushing to the next spot. So it was a really nice step back and a different vibe of a trip. There was no urgency, it was literally searching, discovering, and just hoping.

A person stood in a snowy landscape wearing a dryobe with a car in the foreground

What was it like spending time with Freddie and the gang?
I’ve known Freddie for a few years and he’s really laid back. He’s a cool guy and has a different surf vibe than a lot of the people I spend time with, which is good. And I know Nic, so me and Nic are often on the same schedule, like last-minute flights to places and strike missions and then darting off to somewhere else. So me and Nic are very much on that fast pace of surfing so it was really good to step back and into Freddie’s flow.

Snowy landscape with mountains

How does it feel when you get the green light to go on these kind of missions?
It depends on what it is. Sometimes I can be nervous. But it is exciting, you’re mission is to surf the best and biggest waves and score crazy barrels and that’s been the dream to do that and react quickly to be in the right place at the right time. And I’m super lucky to have these opportunities.

Snowy landscape with mountains from the view of a car window with a person in the front seat

Any standout moments and highlights?
I think one of Freddie’s waves at RÁN was probably the highlight I think. The wave was quite a tricky wave and I think Freddie surfed it once or twice before and never really properly scored it so I think every wave was a learning curve.

Then it just switched on for half an hour and then Freddie got a couple of good waves and one wave was definitely a standout for the trip.

Three people walking in the snow

After that just being in the ocean and surfing with the craziest backdrops of snow and mountains. Knowing how remote you were, there was no one about for miles. Surfing, seeing these waves break, and thinking, ‘Maybe no one has ever surfed here’, and if someone has it’s not many people, maybe just one or two people! And just not knowing.

A big blue wave breaking

There are not very many places now where you surf that you can really say that, usually either loads of people are already out or you might get it empty for a little bit.

And knowing that it’s just us and that’s it, that was really exciting.

A man stood in a dryrobe next to a man in a wetsuit on a boat

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A man in a dryrobe looking out of a window on a boat at a snowy landscape

Cotty wears the Black Camo Black dryrobe® Advance