The History of UAS


The beginning

Thor Frantzen and Hans Egil Krane believe they were among the first surfers in Norway. To earn money as young boys, they worked as skippers on cargo ships that sailed across the world. They docked in Sydney and it was here they first discovered and witnessed something at Bondi Beach they had never seen before - surfing!

Thor Frantzen with his first surfboard. (Photo: Yazzy)

Back home in Lofoten, there was no place to buy surfboards. Young and eager to try surfing again, they decided to make their own boards. At the time, the famous Beach boys were on all the top hit lists. On their Surfin´safari LP cover from 1962, they posed with surfboards. Using this as their inspiration, they made surfboards using insulation from a 1950s fridge and coated it with a shell of polyesterresin and fibreglass. These two boards still exist and are displayed on the walls at Unstad Arctic Surf.

"There where no surfshops in Svolvær back in those days"

With no wetsuits, Frantzen and his friend began surfing in bathing suits.They were only able to last 10 to 15 minutes in the water before having to escape the cold. They then began to wear wool sweaters under their stiff, rubbery diving suits so they could stay in the water for longer. Thor chuckled and said: 

"People looked at us like we were from another planet"

Thor and Hans Egil (Photo: Leslye Davis/The New York Times)
Postcard from Unstad 1975.

Then again in the early 90s, Kristian Breivik rediscovered the bay. At this time, there were only a few surfers in Norway and they were all located around the Stavanger area. Kristian moved to Stavanger and talked so much about these fantastic waves north of the arctic circle. One day they gathered a small team and headed up to face the waves. They scored big time with a monster swell from south west and perfect barrels rolled in. Surfing magazine also traveled with them.

In 1999, surfers like Sam Lamiroy and Spencer Hargraves made the epic surf movie E2K, which was filmed at Unstad beach. At this time, there were not many surfers in the area. In 2000, Tommy Olsen moved up and started surfing. Some years later there were a handful of local surfers. In 2003, Unstad Camping was a reality. It was founded by Thor Frantzen and his wife Randi and in the beginning, there were only a few cabins. They built some new cabins, started up a cafe and began to rent out a few surfboards.

First design of Unstad Camping.

A few years later, Thor's daughter Marion and her husband Tommy Olsen bought the business, renamed it as Unstad Arctic Surf and expanded it. Today they provide accommodation, cafe and restaurant, bar, surf gear rental, surf coaching, stand up paddle tours, conference facilities, private and public events, and other activities. In high season there are over 25 dedicated employees working at Unstad Arctic Surf. In 2016, UAS was awarded "Fans of good service" by the European HSMAI and in 2018 they where honored by the local community with the annual business prize.