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The Gearzette
Front Runner on The Move: Frank Solomon

Front Runner on The Move: Frank Solomon

- March 03, 2023

World-renowned Big Wave surfer Frank Solomon is a busy man. The Capetonian founded Sentinel Ocean Alliance in Hout Bay, Cape Town, in 2017 to create ocean-based opportunities and environmental education for the previously disadvantaged youth of his hometown. Since then, the project has grown beyond his expectations. The project started with a few kids, it now has multiple permanent employees, and a couple of hundred kids a week doing the program. While Solomon still has a big hand in the project's executive management, he manages his time in order to chase swells at the drop of a hat. We caught up with him in between surf sessions. 

© Sacha Specker

How many road trip kilometers have you done in the past 12 months?

I can’t give you an exact figure but certainly more than 20 000 kms.

© Staplesproductions

Is that a mix of short weekend trips and more extended expeditions? How important are those quick weekend getaways?

I feel super lucky to be able to get away whenever we want. My partner, Adele, and I are both pretty flexible, so we usually do a lot of shorter trips, like up the West Coast or to J-Bay, wherever the swell is really. I like the longer trips, but if I’ve got to be honest, I’m not a huge fan of long drives. The trips have changed a bit since we’ve become parents. Although I feel like we must plan a lot more for our dog than for our baby – sadly a lot of places are not pet-friendly. Neither the baby nor the dog has stopped us from getting out and about though, and I think it's really good for our son too. 

© Sacha Specker

Out of all the spots you’ve camped at over the years, what are your favorites? 

Namaqualand, West Coast, South Africa  ​

This special region of South Africa’s Cape West Coast is number one. It's one of the very few places in South Africa, (probably even in the world) where you can just still wild camp. You know - pure wild camping without reservations, tolls, or entry fees. If you know where to go, you just show up, pitch your tent and it's just how it's always been. It's just so beautiful and in the Springtime when the West Coast flowers are out, that hard offshore is blowing, the waves are pumping, that's as good as it gets for me. Having a beer after a good day of surfing with no cellphone reception, makes it top on the list.​

Wild Coast, Eastern Cape, South Africa ​

The Wild Coast is just so beautiful. It is so different to the West Coast where there literally are no other people. Going to the Transkei is like a real ‘African’ trip. You really get a feel for the culture and traditional way of living by the locals - the landscape is dotted with round mud huts with thatched roofs and is a patchwork of small, subsistence farmlands. The whole region remains wild and untouched by modern influences which means the camping is primitive while the surfing and fishing possibilities are near endless.  ​

​Caprivi Strip, Namibia ​

I traveled up to Namibia and this particular corner on the map for a video project last year and it was really special. I camped with the local San people under this massive ancient Baobab tree, in the middle of nowhere. The stars were the brightest I’d ever seen, the local people were playing their drums in the evening - it was magical. It certainly does not get more authentic than that. 

© Craig Kolesky

Can you give us a brief rundown of your Front Runner products on your vehicle? 

I’ve had a few Toyota Land Cruisers in the past and really enjoyed overlanding in those, but late last year I upgraded to a 2022, 2.4 Toyota Hilux 4x4. I love having a pick-up truck (what we call as ‘bakkie’ here in South Africa). It is also my first ever new car and I’ve kitted it with Front Runner gear specially tailored to my surf trips. Of course, the base of it all is the Slimline II Roof rack, onto which everything gets loaded (aside from my surfboards). It might sound strange to some, but I like having my quiver of boards in the load bed under the canopy. 

© Craig Kolesky

Which are your favorite bits of Front Runner gear?

When it comes to gear, the list is long but if I had to highlight a favorite it would be my two Expander Camping Chairs. Sometimes it’s the simple things that give us the most pleasure. My wife also drives a pick-up (a single cab) and we’ve got the drawer system in her load bay, which has also been really useful (especially now that we are parents) not only for longer trips, but also for packing, organizing and transporting baby paraphernalia when in town.