Friday, July 20, 2007

Tim's Wave Wanderings in France...

France 2007 – for those who may never get the opportunity…

The plan was to take the camper van to France and cruise gently down the left LH side
visiting some old haunts, find some new spots, surf a bit, sample the excellent food and wine along the way, to Biarritz, just by the border with Spain.

Board choice – hmmn…. I would love to say that I took one of the Harbours, the Wingpin is my usual travel board, but it was not to be. I was very concerned about the temperatures inside the van, as the green house effect of all that glass generates a lot of heat (especially parked up in the sun) and a delam would be very bad news. Thus it was that the DT2 9.2 made the trip with the 9” HP fin, also the surf forecast was not that good and this board (with flattish rocker) was a good choice for the expected conditions. Just about half the Atlantic coast is one big beach break.

We sailed Plymouth to Roscoff in Brittany, first stop Pointe de la Torche which is almost the most westerly point in France. Lovely beach break in a curving bay with the point itself working sometimes. I’d last surfed here about 15 years ago and it was just as I remembered.

Two good days of chest to shoulder high clean waves with a few nose rides (but the cross stepping is not the best you ever saw!) A fun weekend.
Next stop Carnac, with the Neolithic dolmens, menhirs and rows of standing stones.
What an awesome sight to see them marching for miles across the country side.
On again through Lorient past the WW2 U Boat pens to the Isle de Re (sorry no accents on this key board). Very pretty Island but no surf. On to Les Sable d’Olonne and a campsite next to the beach, excellent spot.

Through La Rochhelle to Royan and the ferry over the Gironde. Chanced upon a couple riding 70’s Honda and Yamaha with CA plates – a long way from home!
Off the ferry and down the coast to a premier spot – Lacanau. What a dump! Weather awful, wet and very windy. The storm blew for 2 days as we drove on down the coast. Messanges, another beach break and some mighty barrels after the storm. Paddled out through the most vicious rip in almost flat water with overhead waves either side. Took a well overhead, clean, glassy barrel here, took off, just made the turn, tucked in and got well and truly hammered. What a beasting that was! Waited till the next day when things were more manageable and had a great session.

On towards Hossegor. Ah Hossegor! The river at Hossegor was diverted by Napolean to provide a better harbour further along the coast. The channel scoured out by the river enables big Atlantic swells to hit the coast without slowing down and produces some truly huge barrels. There was a claim last year, for the largest wave ever ridden anywhere – about 90ft!. Don’t know if it made the record book, though.
And so to Anglet where the European Surf Championships were being held.

Saw some great surfers struggling in pretty flat conditions. I had to chuckle over the Swiss Surf Team though – I mean where do they practice?
Finally, Biarritz. A very elegant town with some handsome beaches and various breaks.
Cotes des Basques was a great bit of theatre, with the poseurs performing for the crowd.
High tide meant a take off very close to the rocks, a short ride closely followed by a stylish kick out.

Time to head for home. We had a really good trip. France is a great country with some superp surf spots and wonderful wine. Oh, and some of the cheese is really quite good too!

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Harbour Tin-Can Beach clean and surf day

Surf photos by Lia
Gathering Photos by John

Great Job! Click on pics for larger view.

Harbour Owners’ Society Gives Back
By John (Srf4life)

This Fourth of July weekend, members of the Harbour Owners’ Society got together to give back a little something to the ocean that gives us so much. Todd (Boardhound), had the idea one morning while picking up trash near tower 23 at Bolsa Chica State Beach. Why not get the HOS together for a little beach clean-up and make it a fun occasion while we are at it? Thus was born the first (annual?) HOS “Beach clean-up, surf, and grub.”

The weekend after the 4th of July seemed as good a time as any to hold the event, since there figured to be plenty of trash left behind by the masses who would flock to the beach on the 4th. The call went out on the Harbour website, and about a dozen members, as well as several guys from the shop, pitched in. (Of course, these members were undoubtedly motivated only by their desire to keep the beach clean. The surf and grub was probably no more than an afterthought to these selfless souls.)

The beach clean-up started bright and early, about 6:20 am on Saturday July 7th.

Todd supplied the trash bags and disposable gloves. After about 30 minutes, we had the parking lot and beach north and south of tower 23 picked clean. Jeff S. and Bobby J. both commented on how plastic water bottles and especially those plastic water bottle caps have become the most common form of trash left on the beach. “Maybe we should call it water bottle beach instead of tin can beach,” Bobby said. All in all, the State Parks Department does a pretty good job keeping the facilities at Bolsa and other state beaches clean, but it is still astounding how many people will carelessly leave their trash on the sand when there are literally hundreds of trash cans up and down the beach, some just a few steps away. It is an indication that, in our consumer culture, people all too often think only about consuming, not what they leave behind.

After the beach clean-up, the morning was capped off by a fun surf session in 2-4 foot clean, peaky conditions, with the occasional head high set. The crowd situation was fairly typical for a summer weekend, but we all got some good waves. Everyone was in good spirits and there were plenty of hoots for good rides. After our session, we gathered at Todd’s white box van where he cooked up some awesome breakfast burritos.

Some might say that our beach clean-up is a drop in the bucket along a stretch of beach that gets millions of visitors annually (in fact, Bolsa had the fourth highest attendance of all California state parks last year). But it still sets a positive example, and if more people followed that example it would go a long way toward healing our fragile planet. Perhaps it is best to see it as an exercise that does a little something good for the beach we enjoy and perhaps more importantly, raises our own consciousness about the need to take care of the planet and its oceans. After all, we know that whatever gets dumped upstream eventually makes its way to the lineup.

And who knows, maybe all the fun waves we had that morning and the good vibe we shared was Bolsa’s way of saying thanks.