Sharing a family-fed passion for surfing and exploring nature, Argentine brothers Julian and Joaquin Azulay—aka the “Gauchos del Mar”—have created a life of adventure and art through a series of inspiring films meant to instill both a desire to get outdoors and a sense of responsibility for the state of the natural world.
In 2016, along with a friend and a cameraman, the pair journeyed around Peninsula Mitre, easternmost end of the island of Tierra del Fuego at the southern end of South America, in search of untouched waves. During the surfing experience of a lifetime, the men trekked 53 days across tricky terrain, over mountains, and through forests, camping in caves and swimming across rivers. On each of their backs were 35-plus
kilograms—including the boards they used to surf at every opportunity.
Through conversations with a handful of isolated ranchers and miners, they gained an appreciation for the beauty of these 790,000 acres of virgin wilderness and dedicated themselves to their conservation.
The landscape made an impression on the men and the waves were worth the walk, but there was more: “We went in search of waves and found a cause,” they say in the resulting movie. Through conversations with a handful of isolated ranchers and miners, they gained an appreciation for the beauty of these 790,000 acres of virgin wilderness and dedicated themselves to their conservation. We caught up with Joaquin in June of this year. —Miller Wilbourn
How did you guys become the Gauchos del Mar?
Back in 2010, Julian and I were driving from Los Angeles to Argentina along the Pacific coastline, surfing along the way. In Baja, California we met a really cool American couple—Mateo and Britney. They were living in the middle of the desert, surfing every day. We became good friends, and were telling them about our surf trip and how we wanted to make a blog and needed a name for it. After a few days, Mateo suggested “Gauchos del Mar.” He said, “You’re Argentinian, you’re riding all day, and you’re drinking maté every time.” Ha! We love the name.
What inspired the Peninsula Mitre film project?
Peninsula Mitre was our third big expedition and it was a process to get there. After that first big trip we realized we knew nothing about our own country—Argentina has 3,500 kilometres of coastline with huge potential for surfing and big potential for new stories. Peninsula Mitre is amazing—mountains, rivers, cliffs, empty beaches—so we wanted to go. Then we met Sergio, who hiked there alone ten years before. We asked him if he wanted to go with us, but he thought that with surfboards it would be impossible. After a year, however, we convinced him. Our motivation was to make an unprecedented expedition to document a completely unknown area in Argentina. And to surf some waves—which we did.
You found great waves, but came away with a cause.
Peninsula Mitre may be one of the last big, wild places in the world. No road, no access, no one living there. An amazingly beautiful, wide open, wild landscape. And once you’ve been to such an untouched place for so long, you want to keep it like that, you know? Surfing is an excuse to get out and adventure, but our films and expeditions aren’t just about that. You realize there’s so much more to do—and to do for other people. We like surfing, but Peninsula Mitre could be enjoyed forever, by everyone. So, our recommendation is for people to get to know the place and get involved in its conservation. Acting together, we’re stronger and maybe that will influence the government to conserve it, too.
From the 2017/18 Mountain Life Annual, available to purchase here.
Mountain Life Annual is a once-a-year, one-of-a-kind ode to nature-minded folk who seek an honest, intimate connection with planet Earth. Going beyond the typical bravado of outdoor pursuits, “The Annual”—as many call it—is a visual and journalistic celebration highlighting the cultural, political and environmental contexts behind most great adventures. Valuing inspiration over aspiration, The Annual promotes personal connection and deeper resonance in an expanded understanding of the environments we love—and those we wish to protect. Hopefully you’ll be as delighted as we are with our fifth edition: Mountain Life Annual 2017-2018.