No surfer explores more of West Africa’s rugged, unpredictable and downright dangerous coastline than Kepa Acero. From Morocco to South Africa, and nearly all countries in-between, Acero has been there. “Picking up my backpack and going to Africa was just a personal challenge,” Acero told us in an interview back in 2017 Opens a New Window. . “I was scared at the time. Catching that plane was like jumping into space. But today, seven years have passed and I have not stopped. What pushed me was a strong internal call. Facing those fears to fulfill a dream was the best decision I ever made.”
Armed with Google Earth and a strong understanding of global swell models, Acero takes chance after chance on setups he’s found thanks to satellites. Sometimes those hunches result in the waves of his life. Other times, like on this wild trip to an off-limits beach in India Opens a New Window. , he gets totally and wildly skunked.
But no matter. “I always go looking for a fascinating human experience,” Acero continues. “When I had the romantic idea to look for waves around the world alone, what I really wanted was an experience that transcended my understanding of other cultures and human relations.”
Recently Acero returned to Africa on a hunch. Once again, he’d found a setup that promised, potentially, the waves of his life. This time, however, he also had a more important mission in mind: to provide a small community with as many surfboards as possible, in the hopes they get the same chance to fall in love with surfing as he. And thus, “It’s Not Only About Waves” (the film you see above) was born.
“Many times on my trips, I find myself teaching people how to surf, and I see how they get hooked,” Acero says in his latest film. “At the same time, I feel sorry because they can’t continue; there’s no chance they’re gonna get any surfboards.
“I was in this one area of Africa one time, and it was completely flat while I was there,” Acero continues. “But I really wanted to come back. After studying [Google Maps] I thought we could find one of the best waves on the planet there. I was dreaming of catching perfect tubes without anyone in the world there. We came up with the idea of traveling back to this place, where we could potentially find one of the best waves in the world. And at the same time, we could take surfing to the local community.”
“We campaigned on social media so that people could donate surfboards,” he says. “We collected all of them and then sent them to Africa. This way, we’re not only taking something from this place and people, but also leaving something that gives us so much.”