Tuesday, October 28, 2008

2000 miles of surf.

Picked up the Guys at Andru's place at 7.00pm and loaded the van before heading off for the ferry at Plymouth. First things first, get the sounds sorted - so we plugged in the first cd of the trip - Kings of Leon 'Only by the Night' this album is soooo good it has been played pretty much non stop in the shop for the last month or so. So good it was pretty much the only album played on the trip. Probably wont do much for the band's credibility when you consider that we had a combined age of 134!! Trust me if you like bass guitar this album rocks.

Onto the boat - buy the regulation 50grms of trip tobacco (don't smoke at home) - I know - it's wrong but it's more ritual than anything else. Get a few beers down and then sleep for most of the crossing. We drive off the boat at 8.00am into a fantastically sunny Breton morning and headed off to Penmarch.

At 11.00am we paddled out into a clean 'La Torche' breaking at chest high. Chest high but so punchy. Punchy enough that I get a cracking SUP rail 'kiss' on my left knee as I bale off the board in the face of oncoming wash. That'll teach me.

'Sheeet - that hurts' I struggled to remain balanced on my newly aquired C4 for the rest of the session and limped off up the beach an hour or so later on with my tail between my legs. Back at the van I didn't know wether to revisit my brekfast or the French squat loo's beside the La Torche creperie - I managed to pass on the first 'Just' but had no option other than to execute an interesting straight legged manouvere in order to deal with the second option.

The guys returned to the van and told me that another stand up had paddled out - he looked to be cranking it up as well. Having sunk a couple of Ibuprofen I began to feel a bit more human. It was 3pm - we assesed our options for the rest of the day - food no problem - campsite - argh!! nothing open locally so we decided on a last minute dash to Bretignolles where we knew that Les Dunes would be open - three and a half hours later we pulled into the site pitched the tent and sloped off to the local cafe' for food and beer.

Next morning we paddled out into a clean waist high beach break. Fuelled with croissants and numbed by Ibuprofen I had a whale of a time - more so than the guys who found the wave a bit lacking in 'punch'. In the distance was a guy riding a big red Gong - I saw him a couple of times but always from the other end of the beach - eventually I caught up with him for a quick chat as he was getting out - very quick my French needs huge improvement.

My C4 was proving to be a great choice for the trip - instantly at home on it, stable but still sharp enough to not wish that I was on the BK pro - well I know what I mean. I must try pushing the fin forward.

After an hour or so I swapped boards with Red who was riding my 8'6" mal. He climbed on the C4 and to be fair gave it a go - not quite up to catching a wave but he stayed on it and remained reasonably upright for ten minutes as well. I surprised myself on the little mal catching the first wave that I paddled for resulting in a perfect (for me), long walled up right pretty much to the beach - followed by a few more with a couple of nice lefts thrown in and I thought 'Hey - this is alright - shame I'm not on my BK!!'

Andru and myself got in again that evening - great little session with a stunning sunset as a backdrop. We got out when we could not see anymore.

Next morning we broke camp at 9.30 and hit the 'Peage' (toll routes) and rolled into Lafitenia by 4.00pm. Slight hassle with the pitch, having set up the tent we were asked to move as the ministry of tents or someone had restricted the number of pitches on the site. So we had to move and an hour later we were in the water at Bidart beach due to there being at least 20 surfers all over the right hand reef break. The beach was clean and a solid chest to head high. A bit close outey at times but plenty of shoulders to work with. As usual I paddled off the main bunch and settled down in my own 'no mans land' in the middle of the beach. To our far left we could see Guethary breaking in the distance, often ridden always head and a half plus.
Andru and Red standing guard over our soon to be moved pitch This was an interesting piece of kit perched on top of a BMW X5 - a roof top folding tent - looked just the ticket for weekend getaways solving the need to faff around with tents. Looks like they are available complete with board racks as well - Italian outfit I believe called Autohomes - you wouldn't want to fall out of bed though!!

We made plans to get up and surf Lafitenia at first light but the tide was too full and the wind had spun round a bit strengthening in the process - not to mention the copius amounts of cheap vin rouge that made the sleeping bags a better prospect. With the shift in the weather came rain - amazing how when we spend most of our time in the water a day of rain can change your mood when camping. Today we passed on the surf.

Next day first light and there were twenty people all over the reef like a bad rash - as the day went on this number climbed to over 40!!! The swell had jumped up as predicted to head and a half at least - the scene below us was mesmorising every wave saw up to five people paddle in - each person that caught the wave would then look left and pull off if there was anyone inside - there usually was.

Guys would often take off so deep inside they would surf out of the wash to 'claim' the wave. Bear in mind this was at least a head and a half and breaking over some pretty savage rocks that often sucked dry. We pussied out and passed. The last thing these guys needed was a fatboy on a 10' SUP sloshing around on the break. Shame though. Finally Red could not bear it any longer and paddled out. Andru and I sat wisely in our folding recliners and watched - as Red watched - wave after wave after wave pass him by, always someone deeper - always someone on the wave. NUTS.

We went back to Bidart beach where we got stuck into a powerful fast breaking wave that on more than a couple of occasions saw me almost end up on the stone groyne in the middle of the beach. My leg was still sore but what hurt more was a complete lack of bruise to back up my whinging.With the days rapidly running away we checked the surf forcasts and decided to pack up camp early Thursday morning and make the five hour run back to Les Dunes in order to chase the predictions and get an evening session in. It proved to be a good move. We rolled into camp at 4.pm and got stuck into a decent chest high session in bright perfect conditions aided by light offshores. We surfed until dark with the swell building all the while. Still no takers on the SUP's - heh ho you can lead a horse to water!!

Friday morning we got in early and surfed for hours in a perfect head high beach break - there were a few close outs but the beach seems to hold at least three decent peaks and you could always find a shoulder to work with. Fantastic. My shoulders were in bits by the time that my leash decided to part company with the swivel - I wasn't sorry - Red managed a solid four hours on his 6' Surftech fish.

Swapped the leash, had a late brekfast early lunch - got some evening provisions in - marvelled at the seafood counter in the local Supermarche' and steeled ourselves for the evening onslaught.

We pretty much had to force ourselves in that evening but what a session - the swell was forcast to build over the next couple of days and it had jumped up a notch through the afternoon. We got on it and soon got over our lethargy - Red reckoned this was one of his best ever sessions - endless decent waves - warm(ish) water - no crowds and another stunning sunset to cap it all off. We slept well that night.

Next morning was Andru's birthday (happy birthday you old grey beard)

ANDRU'S 'BAD FURRY SHIT' - it's an anagram - answers on a post card - or blog message!

and likely to be our last surf of the trip - foolishly I harboured plans of riding Red's 6'fish having had the waves come so easily on my mal. So I opted to take out my mal in what was pretty much epic conditions. Being Saturday there were more in the water but still plenty of room - I had a few decent rides on the mal but to be honest I was pretty much shagged out. The week of paddling, camping, drinking and roll ups had taken it's toll - I was not up to much and every time I got caught inside it seemed like someone had shifted the peak to plant set after set on my head.

Finally I caught up with Red and swapped boards - paddling for my first wave I got tossed into the mother of all bodyboard rides and did little more than hang on gutsliding my way to the beach - that was it - I was spat out and surfed out. I hung around on the beach trying to look like the the master of the tiny little red fish I was holding - muppet!! Red must have seen me on the beach and caught a wave in to swap boards - 'Thanks' he said 'Thought you needed the paddle out practise' I replied. He paddled out for more - fair play.

Back at the tent I pulled my wetsuit off and immediately began to feel a lot better - the bruise on my leg had finally surfaced - black and yellow engulfing the front and back of my knee, calf and thigh - 'See - I'm not a ponce' I said to the lads later on, standing outside the tent with my pants around my ankles. MMnnn probebly best leave that one hanging.

So that was it - the 'team' accounts showed an all up total of £430 each for food, ferry, fuel, accomadation, booze, insurance the lot. Fantastic 2000 miles of surf in 10 days - it don't get much better than that.

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