Red Letter Day: CHASING THE LIGHT


Rider: Fabian Muhmenthaler
Photos: Samuel Cardenas
Location: Valdevaqueros, Spain
Date: Wednesday April 19th, 2023

Instinct pays off for Spanish wing foiler Fabien Muhmenthaler, who’s refusal to write off what most would consider a lay-day ends up being one of the most memorable of his life… and that of photographer Samuel Cardenas too.

It was a very ordinary Wednesday in April, at home in Tarifa. The forecast looked promising for the week ahead, but that day the wind was not good and the weather was generally awful. I’d awoken early and had been really looking forward to riding that day, but sadly it was a super cloudy and stormy Levante day.

I phoned Samuel Cardenas, and we met up to have lunch together at his family’s restaurant. We were speaking about the idea of going for a photo session after lunch, but every minute the weather seemed to be getting worse and worse. By the time we had the food in front of us, it even started raining… we knew then it was probably not going to be possible to shoot in the afternoon, and I was pretty pissed. I went home after lunch and started studying, it was one of those days that I struggled to focus and looked out of the window every 10 minutes to check if conditions were improving. By 7pm I was calling Samu and he was literally telling me to forget about it, it was not going to work out, light is bad, wind is gusty, etc etc…

I don't know why, but I got a feeling that I shouldn't give up, so after a while I called Samu again, we were discussing about going or not and it felt like we were a couple who couldn’t decide about which restaurant they should go to for dinner! Just after 8pm, we were finishing our fourth call within the last 15 minutes and finally decided that we were not going to shoot.

I was so mad, sitting at my desk in front of my computer because I was really motivated to ride and shoot that day, and I hate it when things don't go as planned. Suddenly I see this ray of sunlight stream in through my window and it was then that I realised that this was the sign… I quickly called Samu (the 12th call of the day) and told him to pack everything ASAP, that I’ll pick him up in 10 minutes. I don't know how or why, but he agreed, I guess that's why we are friends, because we’re both a little crazy. By 8:25pm I'm at Samu's place, picking him up.

We were both super excited, nervous, and a bit afraid that the sun could still disappear before we made it, as it was still cloudy and pretty late. As we were heading towards Valdevaqueros, we had to turn around as we realized Samu had left his wetsuit boots at home. Our adrenaline levels were super high – you could feel the tension in the car.

We made it to the beach and started preparing everything. By 8:45pm I was making my way to the water and at that moment I could finally breathe, slow down and feel the moment. Everything was perfect, and it looked like every decision we’d taken that day led to that moment. The wind was onshore, a perfect south-easterly 30 knot Levante. The sun was there above the dunes, big and majestic. The spot was empty, we were the only ones in the water – the whole Valdevaqueros beach, just for us… That's something you don't see all that often.

As I started riding and time passed by, we witnessed one of the most amazing light shows nature had ever handed us. The sun was slowly disappearing behind the dunes, and the sky started to change from yellow to orange, pink, purple… It was one of the most beautiful sunsets we'd ever seen, and the stoke levels were off the charts. Every time I went for a trick and Samu got the shot, we both screamed like maniacs. Some kind of feeling that grew from our deepest primal instincts within, and we couldn’t resist. The sky was on fire, everything worked out, and after such an intense day thinking it was not going to happen, everything felt twice as good.

It was one of those sessions that reminds you why you do what you do, and why I will always dedicate my life to water sports. Because there's nothing that can beat that feeling, the feeling of being one with Mother Nature and feeling so small yet so big at the same time. I love my life, I love Tarifa and I feel so lucky to be able to still get goosebumps after so many years doing the same thing and riding at the same spots.

Life is magic. Stay in the water.

 

Samuel Cardenas, photographer

I remember that I was at home, in my room, lying in bed… a typical day with a very strong wind in Tarifa that makes it hard to be outside. I remember Fabi calling me 20 minutes before sunset and he offers me to go take pictures in the last of the daylight. I told him he was crazy because the sky was super cloudy and there was not much light anyway, but in the end, I accepted the proposal and I will not regret that decision ever… it became one of the best sessions in of the water I have ever had. We entered the water just when the sun was on the horizon, and I remember thinking, “in a very short time we won't have light” but it was incredible how every minute that passed the light just improved. From yellow, to orange, to pink, to red. I thought that I was dreaming, just two of us alone in the water, living that unique experience.It was one of those sessions that will stay in the memory forever.

 

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