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Feature

03 Apr 2020

Surf ‘n’ Turf

Twin passions for Porsches and surfing are the inspiration for one of the coolest festivals around as Julian Milnes discovers  

Ken Hake had one of those late-night ideas that come about when friends chat over a beer. While growing up around Porsches on the German island of Sylt, he’d also become immersed in the surfing culture that the region was famous for, earning himself a national title in the sport.
 
Buoyed by his twin passions, it was only a matter of time before the two worlds collided. He explains: “I was chatting with my old friend and fellow surfer Angelo Schmitt about how we could create something different that brought together like-minded people, utilising all these great contacts we’d picked up on our journey.”
 


The result was Petro-Surf. Now set for its third staging in June, the event has gained a cult following of Porsche air-cooled aficionados and surfers alike, many of whom also work and play in creative industries. Think Luftgekühlt-on-Sea.
 
“We’re not event organisers,” says Ken. “Just Porsche enthusiasts who want to share our passions with other people who feel the same way – being able to bring together and engage with fellow devotees of Porsche and surfing is what we’re all about.”
 
Ken attributes his Porsche passion to his father. “From an early age he was always around cars, particularly Porsches; a true petrolhead. In 1963 he bought his first, a 356 Super, the second person on Sylt to have a Porsche, so I didn’t really have a choice!”
 


When Ken was five, Hake Senior gifted him an old stripped-down VW Beetle – a sort of life-size Meccano set to play with. “There was always a Porsche in the garage but never as a status symbol, more as an acknowledgment that this is the perfect driving machine.” says Ken. “Back then it was usually a 930, although he always tricked them a little bit.”

Growing up on Sylt, an island with one of the oldest surf cultures in Europe dating back to the 1950s, Ken took to the scene like a duck to... yes, you’ve guessed it. Clinching a German junior champion title along the way, he switched locations to San Diego in 1998 where board sports were a daily activity, along with classic Porsches.

“Where I surfed there were always two or three dudes who would turn up in their old ratty 911s and surf. And if there was no surf they would race them. I was desperate to own a Porsche, but back then, when you’re 21, $8,000 was a lot of money. If I knew then how prices would turn out I’d have bought a load, just like Magnus Walker did.”


 
A friend of Ken’s, and in the vanguard of the air-cooled cult, Magnus attended the inaugural Petro-Surf event in 2018. “It was great to have him there on what was an amazing weekend,” says Ken. “The weather was perfect and the turnout was spectacular. We had numerous events, including driving and surfing competitions, along with talks on both surfing and Porsche topics – the aim was to make it as interactive as possible.”

Porsche Germany also gets involved, helping with logistics, marketing and supplying classic models from its museum. “I popped in for a chat to pitch my idea and the rest is history!” says Ken. “Sylt was the first location the company launched a ‘boutique’-type concept, aimed at promoting and celebrating Porsche culture as opposed to selling cars. It was a perfect fit to promote the Petro-Surf concept.”



This year’s event, held between 19 and 21 June, will build on previous editions and is expected to feature 80 cars. “We’re aiming to keep it old school,” says Ken. “There are a lot of Porsche events now, so we’re keen to focus on the surfing and what I call the analogue lifestyle. We always aim to have events that you can actively participate in, whether it’s a surf contest or a driving event, with an emphasis on a great vibe. The latter is key. That’s why people are drawn back – you won’t find a group of 50 dentists or lawyers here!”

British artist Stevie Gee, who designs the Petro-Surf graphics and merchandise, will return in 2020 to display his latest artwork, alongside exhibitions of classic surf photography and plenty more that is yet to be announced.
 
“Porsche Club GB members are more than welcome,” says Ken. We already have several guys coming over, so just drop me a line and get involved https://www.instagram.com/petro.surf/?hl=en.



Does Ken plan to expand Petro-Surf in the future? “Right after the first one we had enquiries about holding it elsewhere, like Copenhagen or South of France, but we thought we’d stay true to the formula. I helped bring Luftgekühlt over to Bicester and Munich, being friends with Patrick Long and his group. However, I didn’t want to copy Luft. Their event is fantastic, but I want to be different.”

For the record, Ken did realise his Porsche dream, purchasing a 3.2 911 with a G50 gearbox seven years ago. After spotting it in a warehouse under a dust sheet, it took him a year to convince the owner to sell.
 
“I think it was meant to be!” says Ken. “I plan to drive it for as long as possible then pass it on to my daughter. That’s how much Porsche means to me. It’s a passion that I want to celebrate and share.”
 

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