Story compliments of ESPN Europe had 563 million international tourist arrivals in 2013. Antarctica, on the other hand, had about 150,000 visitors, although only 35,000 were technically tourists, as the bulk were researchers and scientists. The World Tourism Organization, which monitors these comings and goings, barely recognizes Antarctica -- it's not even present on its tourism-growth infographic.
Just 100 years ago, explorers were aborting their expeditions -- or, worse, becoming permanently detained in the vast frozenness that is the bottom of the world. In December 2013, the Akademik Shokalskiy, a Russian research ship, became bound up in sea ice, and the 74 people aboard had to be rescued. All things considered, 150,000 visitors in a year is quite an astonishing number.
But surfers in Antarctica? Until last year, the only surf trip to Antarctica was in 2000, when then-Surfer magazine editor Steve Hawk and photographer Art Brewer put a small exploratory crew together (including brothers Chris and Keith Malloy, whose younger brother Dan would soon venture on an expedition of his own). While they did stumble upon a few waves, the surf was relatively uncooperative, and the idea of the bottom of the world being the next surf Valhalla was more or less abandoned.
Chilean big-wave surfer Ramon Navarro had tracked massive waves in Chile for eight years before proposing an Antarctica trip to Red Bull. "We really wanted to do something great that nobody had done before," he said. "With those guys [Red Bull], you can say, 'I want to go surf Antarctica,' and they like those kinds of crazy ideas."
With the Red Bull team, 34-year-old Navarro spent two years researching and orchestrating the mission to tap into a fresh source of supersized waves. He also enlisted surfer/filmmaker Dan Malloy, 35, to come along for the adventure. "This was my first trip with him. It was really fun. He loves to surf, loves challenges and he had no problem with the cold water."
CLICK HERE FOR MORE FROM ESPN