Sweden and wave riding: two things that aren’t linked together very often. But now meet Freddie Meadows, the first swedish surfer who, after years of doing it professionally around the world, wants to inspire us to discover waves and how to dress well.
Freddie Meadows grew up in Åhus and London, places that aren’t really associated with waves. Perhaps that’s what led him to discover something as un-Swedish as surfing. At the age of 13 he started wave riding and soon became consumed by a fascination with a sport that had no rules and the close connection to nature surfing brought with it.
“The feeling that hit me right away was that you come into contact with nature in an incredible way – more than with any other sport,” he says. “Waves can travel huge distances across our oceans – at times, 5,000km – and then you get the chance to be part of the final chapter of a wave’s journey before it disappears forever. That energy does not exist in any other sport.”
After many years on tour and many competitions – among other highs, he scored a fifth place in the European Championships for under 18s in 2006 – Meadows is currently on a sabbatical from the contest world. Instead, he is at home in Sweden in search of a little magic in the Baltic Sea. And he is always ready to jump in his car to drive to where the waves are. “Sometimes I only have two hours to get my stuff together before I have to go. As each opportunity comes so rarely, the feeling of missing something can be pretty hard to deal with. All I think about is how to time it as best as I can.”
Over the years, Meadows noticed that, in order to win, it was necessary to go against the morals and respect that is so deeply connected to surfing. So, instead of touring, he followed his dream to find world- class waves in Sweden. And, in October 2014, he found them. “I went on my first trip in the woods, in the wilderness. And there, by the furthest part of the coast, I found a sort of balance. It was as if it were fate. I saw the best waves I had ever seen in Sweden – so big, heavy and perfect. It was exactly what I was looking for. I named the best one Valhalla.”
He thinks that Sweden’s surfing culture is exciting because of what can be found in places where you’ve never seen waves before. Surfing in Sweden is better than people think. “We have a fairly large community here,” Meadows says. “But because of our circumstances, we end up always in the same places. But Valhalla meant that I discovered something I had never seen before in Swedish waters, which makes it so exciting.”
When pushed to talk more about why he semi-retired from competitive surfing, he mentions feeling a strength within him. “I thought, ‘Let’s ignore all of the things that I have lived for, and instead focus on new projects.’ It was natural, because I love being creative. Film and photography have always held a deep interest for me. So I decided to do what I’ve kind of wanted to do my whole life – surf the magical waves here in Sweden, and then document it all with the right people. It’s when I’m on these adventures that I am at my happiest. I hope that what we produce can inspire people the way I’ve been inspired.”
Even though he now surfs 100 days a year, compared with the 300 days he used to just a few years ago, he is happier than ever today. “I feel so content when I’m in my car, heading to a place with the hope that there may be good conditions for surfing. I get so excited every time I go back to places that I know already – it’s like seeing an old friend. I hope I have inspired people to not only surf, but also to go out and discover. Go out and look for waves yourself. Anything is possible. That’s the best thing about surfing – the adventure.”
And the future?
“I hope and believe that I will keep going with all these exciting projects for the next three to four years. Then, perhaps, I’ll start competing again. Who knows?”
What is your preferable style when you’re not wearing a wetsuit?
“I like dressing comfortable and casual but at the same time being well dressed.
Words by Fredrik Wallin
Photography by Oskar Gyllenswärd
Surf Photography by Fredrik Skogkvist & Calum Creasey
Film by Damaspirit
Styling by Maria Barsoum
Special thanks to Velour By Nostalgi
3-4 Dion Jacket
All items are available at Velour.se