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Flying High with Basile Rio

Pilot, surfer, skater and more... Basile is one of the island's most gifted surfer.... he's a true waterman!

Surfing, kiting, windsurfing, wakeboarding, foiling… you name it, he’s tried it. And if you know Basile Rio, you’ll understand pretty soon that this human does not do things in halves. He’s a waterman and will try to thrive in everything he does … however lucky for us, there’s one that sticks more than others. 

Basile applies himself in everything he does and is equally capable on land and sea. He trains consistently, searching sunset runs along the island and carving on concrete using a surf skate. Snapping shots with him in the bowl is fun, if not a little daunting. He’s fast and determined. It’s never enough for him, so he’ll push his limits until he knows he’s drained. It’s a mentality and a mindset that enables him to charge and improve, soaring in every sport.

We caught up before Hadrien Meyer’s excellent Bennie Blue concert for Rock The South at Zion. Two dudes, a beer and at sunset. Sounds romantic enough, so we’ll spare the details. If you’ve had the pleasure of meeting Basile, you’ll realize he’ll never run out of things to say and our conversation could have been a four-hour-long podcast were it not for the impending music. 

Riding High

When he’s not surfing, socialising or training, Basile takes his skills to the sky. As a pilot, he has an immense responsibility, and that’s where you’ll see his true wisdom and age. It’s no joke flying one of those things, especially in dodgy conditions, but with his good friend and fellow pilot, Captain George Attard beside him, it’s all about surf stories in the sky too. Oh to be a fly on the wall when these two are in charge, that would make an epic podcast! In the cockpit with Basile and George (hmm… a working title, you pervs!)

“I started surfing in a spot in France called La Torche, with one of my best friends who is actually a pro windsurfer now on the west coast of France. He casually drops that he’s “done some competitions as a kid in windsurfing too.” He seems to like competitions, bursting onto the local scene during the Cold Water Invitational in 2023 at Marley’s. Basile finished second that year, keeping up with the incredible Brazilian Storm Nando Theo

Despite the traits in other sports, surfing tugs at his heartstrings most.

“In surfing you get the purest feeling you can find on the wave I feel. When you are just in that sweet spot it’s a very special feeling.

“In kitesurfing big jumps are fun but that sweet spot in surfing is the purest.”

Basile’s World Tour

His job in the skies has allowed Basile to live and indeed surf many different territories. So far he’s surfed in some cool spots including the below, with more on the horizon. 

  • Hossegord, France, and more spots along the SW and West coast.
  • Rio de Janiero, Brazil
  • Raglan, New Zealand
  • Morocco
  • Palermo, Sicily
  • Malta

In Raglan, he shared waves with the hilarious Luke Cederman from Raglan Surf Report, though even he was worried about being billed a “German tourist” as Luke so dearly puts it.  Looks like there was no such mockery as Basile chatted away this evening in his Raglan Surf Report official T, reppin’ Luke!

Don In NZ, Basile shared a spot with Billy Stairmand, Olympian for NZ and Raglan champ. We’ll keep our eyes on him during the summer Olympics, if he’s got Basile’s nod of approval, that’s enough!

“Morocco has to be the weirdest place I’ve surfed. It had a different vibe. We were in a remote area with no tourists, and the people were very nice, not living with much. The surf was always clean, and with offshore winds, the whole coast worked. It’s crazy. Just drive, find a spot and surf.” The simple pleasures of life. 

New Zealand was also outstanding. “It’s a super special space, with continuous waves. The frequency was like none other spot in the wave. When you surf in those conditions you get good in surfing.

“We’ve got so many photographers here!”

After country hopping we dove into the local scene. “I think it’s very cool, It’s kind of the beginning of the surf community here and it’s going to be big. Everyone is looking after each other, from different levels and it’s a very good mood in the water and you don’t have to fight for your spot… yet”

That lingering “yet” left a ponder. Will this place one day be overcrowded? Let’s all behave if that’s the case! 

Basile’s job almost took him out of the island before summer, but lucky for us, we’re keeping him for this one! But as the waves drop for summer, Basile will try foiling and get into it as he knows it’s a good place for it.

“The surf community is all progressing together which is very cool to see.” We also have a lot of photographers (Thanks fam!) and this made me progress a lot as you can analyse yourself and see what’s wrong or good. Even if the waves are not the best quality, the fact that we have this team mentality makes us progress.”

Dream surf spots

“Indonesia is on the list. New Zealand is my special place, and I’d love to go back. There are lots of surf spots around the islands which I want to explore.”

“…and French Polynesia, with Tahiti, Teahupo’o… this place is amaaaaazing and I have to go in a few years.” 

That “have to” mentality is immense. It’s not left up to chance. Basile has a game plan and will execute it. It’s a winning mentality.

That site will have the eyes of the whole world on it during the Paris 2024 Olympic Games, and the controversy surrounding the judging tower hit a fever pitch over the past few months. What a wave that is, curling over one of the most picture-perfect spots in the entire world. 

Despite all the flights, even for a pilot, it is tricky to take a surfboard on board, so not all his layovers involve sea spray and surf, but he did promise he’ll fly us all to our next surf trip. Right, Basile? Where are we headed – and will you let us all bring our surfboards as VIP packages? We’d hate to see more dings!

Curiously, Basile doesn’t have a favourite local spot. They are all good. They each have different waves. “PG is the cleanest wave I got, but it’s so hard to access, and I’ve cut my feet a few times there.” That luring spot for higher-level surfers so be careful out there readers.

“Ghajn Tuffieha has nice waves too; the biggest manoeuvres I’ve managed were there.” Manoeuvres are a side to the game which Basile is constantly looking to involve. These take skill and practice but the fact that our local surfers are pushing themselves for more manoeuvres shows the standard is high, and gaining altitude. 

Chasing Barrels

One of Basile’s main aims in surf… to get pitted, obviously! Like we haven’t heard that before! Since this is not easy to find in Malta, or strike gold like Carlo did at Fajtata, he’s got a bigger aim: a 360 air. “It’s just something I’d love to do and it’s starting to take shape.”

As we talked about his surfing idols, we also dug in to what makes a good surfer. For Basile, it’s all about attitude. “Having a send-it attitude” and being “fearless” is key. “Charge the massive ones, take a big fall and understand what you did wrong, start again till you make the drop.” A tried and tested method, not for the faint-hearted! Basile also states that humility is crucial as “there is nothing better than when great surder hypes you up when you got a good wave no matter your level.” Lucky, we’ve got a voicifeous line up in Malta, with everyone sharing the stoke.

He studies the best of the best to fine-tune his surf. “Ethan Ewing is so technical, so I see how he performs certain manoeuvres, and John John Florence has the flow that no one else has.” 

So, we’ve got Basile for another summer. Enjoy his excellence in the water and his humour out of it. And make sure you go for a few beers together, too. Oh, and remember to ask him about that surf trip he promised! 

Flying down the line

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Pilot, surfer, skater and more... Basile is one of the island's most gifted surfer.... he's a true waterman!