Brilliant Corners is a surf adventure activism series directed and presented by travel writer, geographer and former European longboard champion, Sam Bleakley. Travelling with his longboard in tow, Sam uses surfing to get under the skin of the coastlines he visits, showcasing emerging local surf cultures, cultural tourism frontiers and capturing the power of surfing for social good. Through interviews, lyrical narrative and beautifully filmed surfing sequences, Sam celebrates surfing as dance, learns about local music, art, food and carnival, and demonstrates how surfing can offer detailed understanding of the changing relationship between cultures and coastlines. Brilliant Corners is a celebration of life, revealing positives in often miss-represented locations and discussing critical issues of sustainability within surfing communities and coastal environments.

In the latest series with WSL Studios presented by Hydro Flask Sam travels to Madagascar, Papua New Guinea, India, Senegal, Algeria and Zanzibar.

You can watch the shows here

Brilliant Corners Madagascar

chapter 01 Route du Sud | chapter 02 Vezo Reefs | chapter 03 Nomads of the Sea

Sam Bleakley | Greg Dennis | Robin Simpson

Mada Surf Lodge | Mike Lay | James Parry

Sam travels to the Indian Ocean island of Madagascar with Mike Lay and James Parry to soak up the ghostly atmosphere of old Antananarivo, celebrate the 700 mile long Route du Sud from the capital, through Ranomafana and the land of the fiercely proud Sakalava people, to Tulear, before surfing through a web of Veso fishing communities surrounded by shallow reef passes in the southwest of this vast and varied country. The crew stay with Blair Rogers at Mada Surf Lodge in Anakao, the heartland of the Veso, the legendary nomads of the Mozambique Channel. They learn about how surf tourism in remote areas can help support local education, and face their fears over the fire coral reef at Flameballs on the swell of the trip, before saying farewell to Anakao to travel back through the incredible landscape of Madagascar.

Brilliant Corners Papua New Guinea

chapter 01 Rubio Plantation |chapter 02 The Pink Nose Revolution | chapter 03 Timber Boards

Sam Bleakley | Misha Robb-Maas | Robin Simpson

Rubio Plantation Retreat | Tupira Surf Lodge

Sam travels to Papua New Guinea to see a cutting edge model of sustainable surf tourism, learn about the long history of waveriding on broken pieces of canoe called palangs or ‘splinters’, and see the power of the pink nose revolution that is empowering women on the front line of surfing’s known frontiers. This adventure through PNG happens across two trips: Sam works as a commentator at the inaugural World Longboard Tour event in Tupira in Madang Province, and then travels to meet Shane Clark and the crew at Rubio Plantation in New Ireland. He jumps between these two stories as he explores the way surfing is directly benefiting the locals, ultimately experiencing the cultural delights of a sing sing (where the ancestors come alive in powerful celebrations), before testing his nerve while travelling back through Port Moresby.

Brilliant Corners India

chapter 01 Soul & Surf Kerala | chapter 02 Old Spice | chapter 03 Kovalam Skate Club

Sam Bleakley | Greg Dennis | Robin Simpson | Soul & Surf

Sam travels to Kerala in southwest India to explore Varkala, Kovalam and Kochi, and discover how surfing, skateboarding and their cultural expressions are making waves, whilst ancient arts like katakali and kalaripayattu are still bringing joy to new generations. In the first chapter Sam meets the local surf crew in Varkala at the forefront of the growing surf tourism community. Surfing has provided new and exciting possibilities to carve an exciting future. In chapter two, now armed with some phrases in the local language of Malayam, Sam discovers that waveriding could have a much more ancient history in India. He then travels to the spice capital Kochi to witness the beauty and brilliance of kalaripayatu. In the final chapter, Sam meets up with Kerala’s best skateboarders breaking boundaries down in Kovalam, and finds out how a charitable school helped inspire India’s best surfers. Back in Varkala, Sam learns about the delicate economic balance where surf breaks and fishing communities share the same space. Later he experiences the intense festival spice of India as Thaipusam is marked with heavy skin piercing and a trance like dancing. Sam reluctantly says farewell to the stunning backwaters of Kerala, knowing he’ll return.

Brilliant Corners Senegal

episode 01 Land of Teranga | episode 02 Surf Drums | episode 03 African Renaissance

Sam Bleakley | Luke Pilbeam | Robin Simpson | Finisterre

Sam travels through Senegal with Irish big wave surfer and scientist Easkey Britton and French pro Adrien Toyon. Their first stop is N’Gor Island, where they ride the wave seen in the opening sequence of The Endless Summer and meet the thriving local surf community. Oumar Seye was West Africa’s first sponsored surfer, and has paved the way for surfing to become more than just a hobby in the region, running international events and supporting sustainability. In Dakar they learn about Teranga, the celebrated Senegalese character of hospitality, sharing, and welcomeness. Alongside the adventure north and south of Dakar, they meet up with Cherif Fall, Jesper Mouritzen, Aita Diop, Marta Imarisio, Pierre-Louis Denaro, and many others at the forefront of surfing in Senegal. Later they dive into the rich culture of Mbalax music, experience the power of djembe drumming, and explore how surfing and dance can fuse in West Africa. They end their trip in Popenguine, a bohemian beach town where an incredible women-led initiative to plant thousands of trees has made the area one of the greenest parts of the country.

Brilliant Corners Algeria

episode 01 Casbah Coast | episode 02 Wolves’ Weddings | episode 03 Trans-Saharan Highway

Sam Bleakley | Greg Dennis | Robin Simpson

Sam travels to Algeria with Australian longboarder and writer Lucy Small and French adventurer Erwan Simon to meet up with local Algerian surf pioneers Dihya Nasri and Walid Assef. As they surf their way through the coastline of Africa’s largest nation, they explore its rich history and emerging waveriding communities. Dihya is the only female surfer in all of Algeria. Together they head to the rugged Kabyle region for a prime mistral swell. After surfing impressive wintertime uncrowded peelers they explore Béjaïa, a market city known for its vibrant style and incredible views across the Sapphire Coast. Around the stunning Cap Carbon headland they learn about the ancient Berber and native Kabyle language. After heading inland for a whirlwind adventure in the Sahara Desert, the crew say farewell to Lucy as she heads home to Australia, while back in Algiers, Sam, Erwan and Dihya visit one of the country’s leading digital agencies to discuss their journey and go for one last surf in some perfect longboard waves. Before leaving Sam and Erwan talk with local surfers Dihya and Walid about the exciting future of surfing in Algeria.

Brilliant Corners Zanzibar

episode 01 Swahili Style | episode 02 Witch Doctor | episode 03 Sports Academy

Sam Bleakley | Greg Dennis | Robin Simpson | Aquaholics

Sam travels to Tanzania to capture the rise of Swahili surf culture on the fascinating Indian Ocean island of Zanzibar, meeting up with local surfer Hussein Yahya Hussein and celebrating the work of Aquaholics Surf and Kite Centre in Paje. Aquaholics founders Brad Thomas and Steffi Jungblut have been pioneers of sustainable surf and kite tourism on the island, and remain at the beating heart of the community. After surfing a handful of stunning coral reef passes across the east coast with all the local crew, Sam travels into the capital Stone Town to learn about the regions history in spices and the slave trade, before letting freedom ring back in the water with the new generation of surfers, and meeting the skateboarders and street dancers of Paje. Sam has a very powerful experience connecting into the traditional medicine on the island with a witchdoctor in the ancient village of Makunduchi. He is left deeply inspired by the local landscape and culture that has been shaped by ten centuries of trade between East Africa and the Arab world. As communities blossomed a distinct Afro-Arab Swahili culture emerged, stylised by the tide, terrain and wind. In the final episode Sam documents the incredible work of the Zanzibar Sports Academy in inspiring the youth to have a brighter future. 

In Series Two Sam travels to post Ebola Sierra Leone, the desert coast of Oman, the Gold Coast of Ghana, a surf tourism capital of the Philippines, and Mauritania, where land-mines litter access to some of the best waves in northwest Africa.

You can currently watch Series Two (distributed by TVF International) via terrestrial channels such as Discovery Channel in Poland, Canal Off in Brazil, True Visions Media in Thailand, Video Production XXI Century LTD in Russia, ATP Malaysia in Malaysia and Singapore and OSN in Afghanistan, Algeria, Bahrain, Chad, Djibouti Republic, Egypt, Iran, Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Libya, Mauritania, Morocco, Oman, Palestine, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, Tunisia, United Arab Emirates, and Yemen.

Brilliant Corners Sierra Leone
Bureh Beach Surf Club

Sam Bleakley, James Stuart & Robin Simpson

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Sam travels to West Africa to see how Sierra Leone has bounced back from the Ebola medical crisis, surf the rivermouths of the Western Peninsula, and meet the local crew at the Bureh Beach Surf Club. Like neighbouring Liberia, Sierra Leone is developing a proud local surf culture. Sam believes that the development of the Bureh Beach Surf Club is one of the most exciting things happening along the 400 km long mainland coast, in front of a racy, consistent left pointbreak. ‘The waves they make you feel fine’ is the club motto, perhaps a future Sierra Leonean proverb that will soon attract more travelling surfers.

Brilliant Corners Oman
Desert Blues

Sam Bleakley, Morgan Lowndes Robin Simpson

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Sam travels to Oman to surf with the new wave of locals in the salty Arabian Sea, explore the complicated conversation between surf breaks as cultural, economic and aesthetic resources for both surfing and fishing communities, and experience a slice of desert wisdom from the legendary Bedouin. Pinned to the corner of the Arabian Peninsula, the eastern coast of Oman from Ras al Hadd (where the sheltered Gulf of Oman meets the exposed Arabian Sea) to Salalah (close to the Yemeni border) enjoys consistent waves during the April to October khareef season. But temperatures in Oman can reach 50 °C causing skeins of sand to hover like a glassy swell in a white-hot sea.

Brilliant Corners Ghana
Mr Brights Highlife

Sam Bleakley, Felix Gänsicke & Robin Simpson

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Sam travels to Ghana to explore the relationship between surfing and dance, celebrate the work of UK raised West African surf school pioneer Brett ‘Mr Bright’ Davies, experience the local Highlife music, and journey to the closest land point to the geographic centre of the earth, where zero longitude and zero latitude meet. Bordering the Gulf of Guinea, Ghana has a lush, green 540 km long coastline, known as the Gold Coast, dotted with rolling right pointbreaks. English is the official language, flight access is relatively easy and this is one of the most stable countries in West Africa, so Sam is on a journey to learn how surfing resonates across the original Gold Coast.

Brilliant Corners Philippines
Mona Lisa Soul

Sam Bleakley, Greg Dennis & Robin Simpson

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Sam travels to the Northern Philippines to see how San Juan has transformed from a rural backwater into a buzzing surf town, witness the powerful medicine of surfing as therapy, celebrate the work of surf school pioneer Luke Landrigan, and meet the area’s best female surfers flying the flag for the longboard glide. For surfers the Philippines has long been overshadowed by her southern neighbour, Indonesia. Yet the Philippines has a staggering surf potential, with over 7,000 islands and over 17,000 km of coastline. And San Juan in La Union is home to one of the historic centres of surfing in the country.

Brilliant Corners Mauritania
Sahara Sea

Sam Bleakley, Easkey Britton, Mike Lay, Jack Johns & Robin Simpson

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Mauritania is one of the great frontiers of African surf exploration. Sam travels here with cameraman Jack Johns, Easkey Britton and Mike Lay to surf with the local crew at Le Warf in the capital Nouakchott, learn about a country that is riddled with government travel advisories, experience Chinguetti, a sprawl of labyrinthine streets on the edge of an immense sea of sand, and surf on the border of no-mans-land in the Nouadhibou peninsula, where unmapped landmines block access to the best waves in the country. Officially ‘the Islamic Republic of Mauritania’ this vast territory, fusing Arab North Africa and the sub-Saharan south, includes 750 km of Atlantic coastline, but only a handful of local surfers.

In Series One Sam travels to post ‘quake Haiti and celebrates carnival, the southeast coast of Jamaica, a unique corner of Barbados, post-war Liberia, where sustainable surf tourism is cutting edge, and China, where Hainan Island hosts one of the most exciting emerging surf cultures in Asia.

You can currently watch Series One (disturbed by XTreme Video) as VOD on Amazon Prime, The Surf Network, Vimeo On Demand and via terrestrial television channels such as Canal Off in Brazil, The Extreme Channel in France and Outside TV in the USA.

Brilliant Corners Haiti
Let Freedom Ring

Sam Bleakley, Morgan Lowndes & Robin Simpson

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Defined as the economically poorest country in the Americas, with a history shaped by vodou and political and environmental disasters, Sam dives into Haiti’s waves and culture revealing an often misunderstood nation. Sam travels north through markets and fruit vendors to Cap Haitien, where he learns about the Haitian revolution and surfs the best wave on the island, Ginsu, named after an American brand of cutlery because the coral reef is so sharp. From here, Sam travels through the centre of Haiti, into the highlands, witnessing graffiti art, before descending into Jacmel, hotbed of Haitian dance and papier-mâché puppets. The whole town is preparing for carnival. Sam joins the parade, but his favourite carnival procession is in the Caribbean sea, surfing with Chachou, who teaches Sam about the environmental challenges at his local beach, a possible hotspot for tourists in the future.

Brilliant Corners Jamaica
A Celebration of Caribbean Cool

Sam Bleakley, Morgan Lowndes & Robin Simpson

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Sam pulls out a map of Jamaica and has an almost magnetic pull to head to the south and east of the island, where he hopes the Caribbean will be delivering good clean swell. In typical off-the-beaten track style, Sam bypasses Bull Bay, the modern home of Jamaican surfing, and arrives at Boston Beach, the traditional heart of Jamaican surfing. The charismatic oldest local, and longtime lifeguard, explains how surfing started on the island, and how the current scene is evolving. Sam meets a plethora of cool locals, and is welcomed into the scene. Sam is captivated by the lyricism of the Jamaican patois, and is on a mission to showcase different facets of Caribbean culture. The hot skills exhibited by the local women’s football team lead to the unforgettable experience of a dancehall sound system clash, the bass deep enough to rattle your bones.

Brilliant Corners Barbados
Surfer’s Point

Sam Bleakley, Morgan Lowndes Robin Simpson

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Tourism in Barbados conjures up cruise ships and big ostentatious all-inclusive hotels, but Sam wants to discover another side of the island, the southeast corner. Here visitors can experience a slice of Bajan culture, particularly at Surfers Point, and Freights, one of the best spots to learn to surf at in the whole world. Local entrepreneur Zed Layson describes it as a ‘swimming pool with waves’. Sam meets the local surfers, who share a passion for the ocean. Sam rides perfect azure reefbreaks, tries the local street-food and learns from the locals along the way about recycling and Bajan beach culture. Sam heads further afield, to the remote north and east coast, and talks about the relationship with his home in Cornwall in the UK, a tourism and fishing area, classified as one of the poorest economically in Europe, but also rich with landscape and culture, like Barbados.

Brilliant Corners Liberia
Beat the Drum and Dance Again

Leo McCrea, Sam Lang, Sam Bleakley, Morgan Lowndes & Robin Simpson

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Sam travels to postwar Liberia to discover how surf tourism is helping to revive the economy in Robertsport, just three hours outside the capital Monrovia. Sam catches up with an old friend Dominic, whom he first met following a visit in 2006. On that first trip Sam also befriended Morris, who learnt to surf on Sam’s board. Now Morris is at the heart of the growing local surf culture, and the proud face of a new Liberia. In partnership with two Californians, the locals run a surf club, shape wooden boards and work at the Kwepuhna Retreat, a guesthouse for surf tourists. The allure is powerful – Robertsport has one of the best waves in Africa, and the locals are rapidly becoming top class African surfers. The sport offers a wonderful healing process following the trauma of war. But there are many challenges to tackle – the bittersweet memory of war, the fear factor of coming to Liberia, and providing enough surfing equipment for the growing local scene. Sam meets the Mama Liberia Sewing Cooperative, making surfboard bags and satchels for tourists, and empowering women within the community. Education and healthcare remain key issues for Robertsport, and surfing is leading the way in developing the region.

Brilliant Corners China
Exploring Hainan’s Surf Culture

Sam Bleakley, Morgan Lowndes Robin Simpson

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Hainan is a small subtropical island in the South China Sea with incredible waves between November and March, and a vibrant, growing local surf scene. Sam first visited Hainan China in 2003, and from subsequent trips has witnessed the emergence of both coastal tourism and a local surf culture, with annual international competitions. This colourful scene provides Sam with a privileged insight into the mysteries of Chinese culture, history, and the challenges of the future, from coastal development to pollution, to being hip in modern China. Sam discovers that surfing in China is an ancient art, with Buddhist temples and manuscripts and poetry describing fisherman riding the annual riverbore in Hangzhou hundreds of years ago. Sam competes in the annual Hainan Open surf contest, a magnet for the local surfers, and feasts on the finest food in Asia. Further, Sam explores the relationship between surfing and dance with local longboarders Darci Lui and national champion Monica Guo.