Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Surfing la Cote de Basque!

Ok, so this is my surfing blast. Hopefully of some interest to those of you that surf, and probably of no interest at all to those of you who don't. Sorry :/

We found somewhere to hire boards off the main drag, so its about half the price. We got almost brand new MSP mals, a 9'2 and an 8'6 to cater to the fatty waves.
We carried them, one person on the noses, one on the tails the 2km from the shop to the beach. Unnnggg. :] Unfortunately the tourists here aren't that keen to get out of the way and a 9' long, 2 person board train is not particularly manuevreable. Made for a slightly frustrating journey.

We surfed 3 hours yesterday and today. Definitely thought there'd be more rippers here, but most people are nubs. About a dozen longboarders look pretty sweet.

There's about 8 zillion kids all learning at 20 gazillion eccoles de surf. So crowded, and that's at the less touristy beach. We were trying to be sneaky and sit in between the masses, but others cottoned on pretty quickly. Soon you'd be surrounded by people again. What's more, just like on the sidewalk, no one was that interested in getting out of your way! Ran over a kid today. Tried not to but, well, there's only so much you can do, really. There is no such thing as 'no drop ins'. I don't think anyone's even heard of the term. That's just how you surf.

The North end - gets some really nice rights (not in this photo)
Down the north side (near the chateau) the shape was marginally better, but there was usually 5 people on a wave! Plus a whole cast of people creating a human barricade between you and the beach. Let's just say that tourists in Biarritz in Summer appear slightly less ocean aware than your average Perthonite.

 So for the last hour I was surfing this afternoon, I found a nice little peak to myself. And it was rad! The swell picked up and I may have caught some whoppers that were a massive waist high. No more cutbacks simply to dodge, duck, dive and dodge the onrush of learners. Some nice shape and lots of opportunity to trim on the mal.
I even managed to pull off a proper Hang 5 today for the first time! Woo!
Jim, rad springsuit and 9'2! Heaps of beach @ low tide.
My dorky pose, 8'6 and photobomber :/

When my arms would paddle no more, I got out just as the tide was starting to come in. There is a huge variance in tide here, some 2.5-3m in a day. So things change fast and a lot. Our hotelier had suggested low tide to go surfing as it's 'better' then. So that's when we've been going out. When I got out, James had popped up on a rock on the retaining wall as the flat beach was now covered in a few inches of water. This happens pretty quickly. Even though it happens everyday, it still manages to surprise the sun-bakers who are awoken as the water rushes up and wets everything. They scream, leap up, then retire to the concrete steps and retaining wall for more sunbaking.

As this very diverting melodrama was happening, something else was happening. The waves were getting bigger!! No longer sloppy ankle/knee-dribblers; the tide was creating consistent waist+ waves!! *Epiphany here* All the surf schools went in and the few people out knew what they were doing and were getting some really fun rides. (I'm really glad we discovered this incoming tide thingo 4 days in and not the day before we left!)

Paradoxically, none of the board hire places want to rent you a board for high tide. Why? Because it's high tide. :l The rocks are underwater (albeit in a very predictable place) and you have to walk up partially submerged stairs! C'mon, that can't be anything compared to paddling over sharp coral and sea urchins before climbing up a cliff face, can it? Gnaraloo and Dad have prepared us well :)
Cafe overlooking le Cote de Basque

We have found somewhere to hire boards for the incoming tide and will probs check it out on Thursday! The dude in the shop said it is petit-petit at the moment, so I guess it can be bigger than this, but maybe not while we're here. It apparently holds up to head high, but that's it. Bigger waves are only really found up the coast at Hossegor or Mundaka in Spain.

Hope yoose are getting some swell in Perf.


  1. You lucky lucky buggers! Sounds great. I haven't surfed since Gnaraloo, and i'm beggining to get twitchy. 3 days of onshore here at the mo.....

    Hang 5's too! Sweet! Keep having a great time. and good luck with the Surfboard Train!


  2. Sweet!! Glad you found somewhere that will let you surf when the tide is high. Awesome discovery that the waves are bigger and the crowds are less. Woohoo!!!

  3. Yes, such a relief. We'll also head up to Anglet one day and try for a surf up there - usually a little bigger.
    At least its not so big everywhere that we can't even get in the water, I guess!