Surfing Under Northern Lights

For Tim Latte, competing on the international surfing circuit was always a means to an end. Being in competition, he never had the time to explore and enjoy the various locations he was at. Nowadays, he’s replaced trophies for true passion. We caught the Nordic icon taming the beastly black waves of Lofoten – an exotic landmark for modern surfing and outdoor life. 

Magical. That’s probably the term to describe most people’s first impression of Lofoten, a Norwegian archipelago district located close to the Arctic Circle and the North Pole. Its wild scenery, consisting of majestic snow peaked mountains, untouched land and the ever present Baltic Sea, is like something out of a fairytale. Every year, thousands of thrill seeking nature lovers from across the globe find their way to this well-preserved outpost of raw beauty. One of them is Tim Latte, renowned wave shredder and adventurer by heart.  

The first time I came here was in 2009. Back then, everything was low-key and there was only one surf camp. Today, it’s a whole different story, but in my opinion the progress is all positive,” Tim explains.  

The changes he’s referring to include everything from the addition of captivating hotels and cozy bars to the local university, where people come to study terrestrial ecology and natural management.

I think the residents up here have done a fantastic job of putting Lofoten on the map. The community is just awesome. Climbers, croppers, students, adventurers and animal lovers all come together as one big vibrant family. It’s such a fun and inclusive environment to be in.”

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Seeking new paths

Although local accommodation offerings may have improved over the years, Tim isn’t exactly the luxury hotel type. Visiting Lofoten, he much rather gets his five-star view from a tent on the beach, overlooking his beloved ocean.

I always drive here. My van is packed with boards, tents, sleeping bags, hiking gear and clothes for all weathers. As a surfer, you need to be able to adapt to the environment and relocate easily if you want to catch the best waves. I never feel like it’s crowded here, perhaps because I have the benefit of choosing when I want to surf and not.

That hasn’t always been the case for Tim Latte. During his competitive career, he felt limited on the surfing circuit. Travelling from one competition to the next was his entire life, and he couldn’t find the opportunity to see or explore any of the places he visited.

I missed out on the whole cultural experience of all these fantastic locations. I love surfing, but I never loved competing and knew I needed to make a change. Working with outdoor events and campaigns, where I’m focusing on inspiring others instead of filling my ego with results, has been the path forward for me.

Chasing unicorns in snow storms

Tim Latte’s lifestyle is the epitome of freedom, about as far from a nine-to-five existence as you can possibly come. Sometimes though, his idea of “living the dream” could easily come off as a nightmare. Especially in a remote location such as Lofoten, where nature often strikes hard and merciless – all to this self-proclaimed weather nerd’s great amusement.

The further you come from the equator, the colder and harder it gets. At Lofoten, you can walk out in the sunshine and ten minutes later you’re in the middle of a snow storm. Also, the nature here isn’t accessible, so you may have to hike to the spot. When you surf, you’re in a wetsuit and all covered up, apart from your face. Forget a shoe or lose a glove and you’re done, basically. It’s all wild and unpredictable here, nothing like Australia or Hawaii. Lofoten is like chasing unicorns – no guarantees but very exciting.

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Giving back to nature

Responsibility is an important part of Tim’s lifestyle and deeply rooted in the surf community at large. The respect for nature is never compromised.

Surfers have a ‘bring what you brought’ culture, meaning you never leave anything behind on the beach. We are all here to enjoy nature, and like to keep it as it is.”

Having traveled all over the world and visited his fair share of beaches, Tim is well-aware of the bigger issues at hand.

I think outdoor people in general have a good understanding of these things, how to best take care of our planet. The commercial fishing industry is the real threat. You see clear signs of habitat damage here at Lofoten and across the globe.”

Keeping it real

Tim’s passion for preserving nature is also reflected in his business choices. To sustain his lifestyle, he is dependent on sponsors and collaborators. The offers are many, but he doesn’t work with just anyone.

The more corporate, the shadier, in my opinion. Many companies talk about responsibility to greenwash their products, and you can just feel it’s all bullshit. If it’s a clothing company, they might have one or two responsible collections on display, but their overall line is still the direct opposite. Responsibility shouldn’t be a marketing gimmick, but an industry standard.

Going into a collaboration, Tim always checks with his trusted peers and gets a sense of the company’s history and direction ahead. The employees and the company culture are also very important.

The people involved make all the difference, and to start working with KnowledgeCotton Apparel was a no-brainer. They have a true approach to nature and have been talking about responsible solutions since way before it was trendy. They are also very transparent in their processes, which is something other brands need to take after. The fashion industry in general is much too slow, we shouldn’t even have to address these issues.”

Embracing the Arctic

The mesmerizing surroundings of Lofoten offer a rare sanctuary, the perfect getaway from a busy city life. And surfing is just part of the reason Tim, and people from as far-away places as Indonesia, keep coming here.  

Lofoten is really cool and special. Just by being here, you feel very close to nature. When you stay for a month or even longer, it becomes an everyday thing that just makes you feel great and wholesome. This place really treats you with the full outdoor experience, no matter what you’re into. As for me, I get surfing by day and the Northern Lights by night. Who could ask for more?” Tim concludes and suits up for another ride.  

A storm is coming and it’s another perfect day in Paradise up north.