Saving Thorli

Saving Iceland’s Most Consistent Wave


Thorli, on the outskirts of Porlakshofn, has been seen many many times now across the world. It’s a go to spot for travelling pros, and in a cold windswept place like Iceland, offers an easy paddle out, to quality waves, which is also often sheltered from prevailing winds. It has allowed a burgeoning surf community to improve quickly, and is one of the few places on the island that is surfed a lot. It’s only around an hour from Reykjavik, twenty minutes from Selfos, and open to a lot of swell. It’s fair to say it is a wave that has allowed surfing in Iceland to grow.


Unfortunately it is also right next to one of Iceland’s most important ports, and it is the expansion of this port, which threatens its existence. The reasons for the expansions is to allow goods to arrive in Iceland, cutting 24 hours sailing time round to Reykjavik, plus with a few side bonuses of cruise ships etc. It’s as sound a reason as reasons go, and one which economically dwarfs any impact surfing has. That said, surfing is always important whether for recreation, mental health or for being in touch for the environment, and rather than seeking an outright end to development, surfers are looking to persuade developers to extend existing harbour walls with as little impact on the wave as possible.


The plans are not finalised, and we have seen three versions of them, one obliterates the wave, one will probably cause some pretty rubbish cross waves at higher tides, and one looks like it will have only very limited impact on the wave, I think it is fair to say the development will go ahead regardless, the economics of the situation is such, but we need to raise a voice globally to signify the breaks importance, thus if as many of us can sign this petition -élagið-ölfus-björgum-besta-brimbrettasvæði-%C3%ADslands-let-s-save-the-best-surf-spot-in-iceland - it will help incredibly. 


As surfers we have stopped other developments, Bundoran in the 1990’s and early naughties was under threat from a marina, and it was a combo surfers and environmentalists that got the one stopped, likewise down at Porthleven, so we have a voice.


But surfing in Iceland is small compared to Cornwall and Ireland, and so they need our help. 


From a personal standpoint, I turned up at Porlakshofn for the first time in 2004 with Ian Battrick and Toby Atkins, and we surfed alone there and in Vik for four weeks that summer, and I’ve returned many times. So it is an important place.