Words and photos: Chris Mather – Fadephotography.net
Over the years I have traveled, I’ve been fortunate enough to meet many wonderful people, from smart and sophisticated or maybe a little eccentric to bright and colourful and everything in between.
On first arriving in Morocco on the 4th September 2012, I met another one of these people who, I now have the privilege to call my friend.
His name is Yassin Belqber.
Overall he’s a little quieter than some of his companions, his mind seems to be on other things, nearly all of the time but, once in the water you realise what it was, you realise where his mind had been. It had and probably always will be, paddling around the line up, taking wave after wave, effortlessly picking them apart and pushing himself to drive harder through his turns and explode bigger through the lip.
Yes this young man, certainly can surf.
A pleasure he is to watch. Which I know we can all say when talking about the greats within surfing. Kelly, Parko, Mick, or the freestyle exquisiteness of Machado or Rastovich.
But I’ve not seen many guys or girls with my own eyes, which I’d freely say this about.
So after spending much of this last year discovering who Yassin is, through hanging out, or travelling the length of his country, to watch him compete in the Moroccan National Competitions, I’ve realised that this young man, is not only a great surfer but a great person and friend. So we decided to share a little about him with you.
Chris: So we know your name is Yassin Belqber, what about where you were born?
Yassin: I was born here, in Taghazout. At Anchor’s, that was where I grew up.
Chris: Anchor point, umm. Well that explains a lot. You definitely can’t get more local to a surf spot than that. And you’ve recently turned 20?
Yassin: Yea I’ve just turned 20, on the 18th July.
Chris: Ok so about your surfing, let’s find out a little more about that. What’s your stance?
Yassin: I’m regular, it’s better for Morocco, most of our waves are rights. But I enjoy surfing my backhand, when I can.
Chris: Yea I’m a goofy footer, definitely the wrong country for me. What about your favourite board, or what are you riding now?
Yassin: I’m riding a JP at the moment, I’ve had a couple and they’re nice. I’m looking forward to the winter as I think it will go well in bigger waves. This summer has been hard, especially at the comps. We’ve had some small conditions and it has felt a bit heavy, kind of needed another one a bit smaller.
Chris: Oh to have a pro’s quiver. You sure it’s the board that’s too heavy. I saw you devour all those donuts up in Mehdia.
Yassin: Haha (with his typical big smile)
Chris: All right back to surfing. Being born at Anchor point, which has to be one of Morocco’s most famous waves, what is your favourite spot?
Yassin: I really love Anchor’s and have always surfed it, but my favourite is Killer’s.
Chris: What about outside of Morocco, where’s the first spot you want to go to?
Yassin: Desert point in Indo, I’ve seen it on so many movies and it looks sick. I’d also really like to surf La Gravier in France. Although I’d be happy to surf anywhere in the world, there are so many great waves I want to visit.
Chris: A couple of great spots. So apart from the desire to travel the world surfing the best waves on offer, what is the best thing about surfing?
Yassin: Umm, it’s just fun. Wherever you surf it is fun.
Chris: Very true and the only reason to surf in my mind is because you enjoy it. Living here in Morocco, what would you say is the best thing about it?
Yassin: The waves, definitely the waves. You get some real big swells during the winter and I like surfing bigger stuff. That and you can get some really long rides here.
Chris: Yea last winter was pretty epic, I’m happy sticking to taking pictures when it gets too big. How about this next year, where do you want to be in a year from now?
Yassin: I’d love to be surfing contest in Europe. Hopefully I can make the Moroccan National team, and then I might get the chance. They help out and take you over to some of the comps.
Chris: Yes this would be an incredible opportunity and experience, so who is your inspiration, who do you, aspire to be like?
Yassin: Dane Reynolds, I’d love to be able to travel and surf. He has such a great style.
Chris: So Dane’s your favourite surfer?
Yassin: Yea him and Kelly
Chris: And what about your personal greatest moment, we’ve all heard Kelly talk about the 10th title, what’s yours?
Yassin: I won a regional competition down in Sidi Ifni about 3 years ago. It was one of my first big competitions. That was a great day. I hope I can do it again soon.
Chris: I’m sure it won’t be long until you win a lot more competitions. Going away from surfing, what would you be doing if you weren’t surfing?
Yassin: I’d probably be a fisherman, my dad was one and I used to help out a little when I was younger.
Chris: Do you still fish much now?
Yassin: Yea, quite a bit. Especially during the summer when there aren’t any waves.
Chris: Apart from surfing, what are your interests?
Yassin: Well fishing, or swimming I guess. Anything that means I am near the water. Also I like to hang out with my friends. After surfing.
Yassin: No worries and yea I’m looking forward to the waves coming.
Born with salt water in his veins and sand in his hair, a great guy with a positive attitude. Surfing really is all he thinks about.
Yassin wanted me to thank a couple of people, who have helped him out with his surfing. His good friend Rachid, of Africa Spirit surf shop, who has been helping out with support and equipment since he was a boy and the guys at Surf Maroc who have helped with boards and work over the years.
Obviously there are many others who have helped in many ways, too many to list here but they all know that any help has been greatly appreciated.
The next step for Yassin is to get the opportunity to surf in the bigger competitions that Europe has to offer, putting himself up against better surfers and gaining valuable experience on new waves. To get there though is tough. With the recent news that Raoni Monteiro, is struggling to afford staying on the World Tour without a major sponsor, it asks the question, how is a young man with such talent allowed to fall out of the spotlight.
As for Yassin, he to has a number of challenges ahead, finances being a major part of any young athletes life but he seems set on giving it everything he’s got, and I for one wish him all the best and hope to see him effortlessly picking apart waves on the big scene, one day in the future.
Words and photos: Chris Mather – Fadephotography.net