4X4: 16 Questions with Frank Solomon and Sacha Specker
We sat down in the sand with big-wave surfer Frank Solomon and renowned surf photographer Sacha Specker to get the lowdown on how they Find their Anywhere – usually in a barrel on a remote stretch of South African coast – as well as their favorite gear, breaks, and stories from the road.
What’s the best thing you guys have seen from the water?
Frank Solomon: That’s a hard one. You always see things in the water that are amazing and kind of take them for granted. For me swimming with whale sharks in Mexico was pretty special.
Sacha Specker: Watching and documenting my friends get the waves of their lives at spots like Pipeline in Hawaii is incredibly rewarding and an awesome thing to share with friends.
How about your most dangerous moment in the water?
Frank: Most dangerous is probably surfing any of the big wave spots that we surf. You never know what's going to happen:)
Sacha: I’ve had some close calls drowning, but the most memorable was getting caught swimming in big surf along the great ocean road in Victoria, Australia. I had completely underestimated how cold (about 9 degrees), big and exposed it was. I put on a 2mm spring suit and swam out to photograph my friends riding this crazy wave, and after about an hour I was close to hypothermic—then a flurry of 15-foot waves kept coming and draining my energy until I could hardly keep my head above water. Luckily another crew of guys was out there using a jet ski to tow into the wave and happened to pick me out of my spot of bother. Not sure how it would have panned out if it wasn't for the support of the trusty water steed.
Frank, tell us about Sentinel Ocean Alliance.
Frank: I started SOA to create ocean-based opportunities for kids in the poorer communities, so they could have the same opportunities that I did growing up. Without those opportunities I wouldn’t be having this conversation. It's become something I’m really proud of; we have three full-time employees now, and yeah, I’m just really grateful and happy that we can make some positive change in the community.
Sacha, how did you get into surf photography?
Sacha: I’ve been intrigued by photography since my early teens. As my love for the ocean and riding waves grew, I was inspired to travel and explore. It was an organic and self-fed process of just riding waves and exploring coastlines and reefs to start documenting them. The real driving force behind starting to shoot in the water was to share the incredible experiences with my friends who were there with me—and those who were not.
Where else do you want to surf or shoot that you haven’t been yet?
Frank: I would love to go to Tahiti and Fiji.
Sacha: There are a number of places in West Africa I would love to explore, as well as French Polynesia in the Pacific.
Okay—sum up your life philosophy in 3-5 words.
Frank: Do what you love and help others along the way.
Sacha: Debt-free. Optimistic. Fun.
Do either of you have any fun nicknames?
Frank: Some of my friends call me frog.
Sacha: Spex or Spexy.
You’re going on a road trip. What three people do you bring, dead or alive?
Frank: Nelson Mandela, Joe Rogan, Elon Musk.
Sacha: Sir David Attenborough, my wife and my daughter.
Who’s on your road trip playlist right now?
Sacha: Easy Giant, Kish Bashi, Future Islands, Neil Young, HNNY, Maribou State, L'Equipe Du Son, Oumou Sangare...
Frank: For whatever reason I just listen to podcasts and audiobooks.
How has Front Runner gear changed the way you road trip and camp?
Frank: I think just being organized and being able to rely on the gear. Like for me, the drawer system is a game changer for storage and keeping my gear organized.
Sacha: When you go off the grid and enter the wilderness, camping is only fun if you have all you need, it's organized, and you can rely on your gear. Front Runner, by default, ticks those boxes.
What’s your most invaluable piece of Front Runner gear?
Frank: That drawer system!
Sacha: The Easy-Out Awning.
And what’s highest on your Front Runner wish list?
Sacha: I’d have to go with a roof top tent.
Frank: Probably the roof top tent :)
Any advice for road trip newbs based on your past journeys?
Frank: Pack light. I think people often take way too much stuff and end up never using it.
Sacha: I would make being comfortable a priority. Get organized and pack the things that bring you comfort and joy—and don't skimp on good food.
What would you say you’re most grateful for?
Sacha: Growing up in South Africa and having had the opportunity to explore the sub-Saharan part of this continent.
Frank: I’m grateful for the life I live. If I won the lottery, I wouldn’t change my life at all.
What was your favorite part of exploring West Coast, Africa?
Sacha: The moment you look at your phone and see that there is no signal. It’s a true disconnect from the hustle of this busy world. You are on your own and 100% responsible for (and the beneficiary of) your packing and preparation for the adventure.
Frank: The sunsets and the beers at sunset.
Next on your trip list?
Frank: Cape Vidal :)
Sacha: Driving west to east across Southern Africa from Walvis Bay, Namibia to Pomene, Mozambique.