Thirty-seven years ago the last voyage of the MV Panagiotis – a boat shrouded in tales and legend of smuggling deeds – would end up creating one of the world’s most picturesque ‘wrecks’. ‘Navagio’ [meaning Shipwreck] beach on the Greek island of Zakynthos can only be accessed by water and the powerful mix of beauty and isolation inspired a production crew to pursue exclusive use of the location. The idea? To have 2015 MXGP FIM Motocross World Champion and Monster Energy Yamaha Factory rider Romain Febvre ripping up sand around the Panagiotis.
A team of 23 people began to construct a site and a ‘track’ at Navagio by transporting all the equipment necessary from the other side of the island. The build involved shifting twelve tonnes of sand and clocked over a thousand hours under the warm Greek sunshine.
Then, less than a week before ‘record’ buttons were to be pushed, the weather changed.
A storm gathered over Zakynthos and in a single day the Navagio ‘set’ was totalled. A period of rapid and stressful recovery work began: some 60% of what had already been made on the beach had to be re-done in one day. Another gnarly hurdle came-up fast: direct sunlight on Navagio in November was sparse and the shoot expanded into the night in order to grab more material. Hauling the lights, equipment and technical backup was another major ‘ask’.
At the heart of the project was Febvre, fresh from a nineteen-round Grand Prix season and a milestone third consecutive success at the Motocross of Nations. “It is definitely the strangest place I have ridden,” the talented Frenchman admitted. “We are used to circuits and beautiful locations and in countries like Argentina but this was right on the beach with the sea so close and that ship stuck right there. It was unbelievable to see, and more so to ride because it is a place you cannot reach by walking or car but by wheeling the bike onto a boat and sailing out.”
The Grand Prix winner has done a number of film and photoshoots in his career but welcomed the chance to put that blue #461 into a frame that is definitely a ‘first’ for dirt biking. “Being a factory rider is already like a dream for me, so opportunities like this are just a cool part of it,” he says. “Having a sponsor like Monster, who come up with some crazy ideas, is also another nice part…but I like it. I think there are not many people that do stuff like this.”
Most nights Navagio echoes gently to the surf and the occasional metallic ‘moan’ or creak from the Panagiotis. Febvre bounced four-stroke engine howls around the stony walls in a sight unlikely to be seen again. The video and photography effectively chart the experience for a true ‘one-off’.