Belharra was back in the news before Christmas. The open ocean reef located out the front of St Jean de Luz broke on December 17 and a crew including Nathan Fletcher, Dane Gudauskus, Alain Riou, Benjamin Sanchis, Eric Rebière, Dimitri Ouvré and Peyo Lizarazu were there to tackle it.
Of course every time Belharra breaks, it’s pretty much surf news. It doesn’t really cap till there are 30 feet faces, so if it’s breaking, it’s big. Big isn’t the problem at Belharra: stand out sessions in 2003 and 2011 earned both Fred Basse and Sancho Billabong XXL big wave awards for rides of the year. This swell also saw some bonafide big wave legends in town, plus a raising of the bar for paddling Belharra.
And it sure looked big, but it also looked well just, uhm, fat. I know to say that it is controversial, kind a like telling your girlfriend how she really looks after a Christmas on the ham, chocolate and turkey. And I’m not coming from a position of strength. The mere thought of being caught or catching one of those waves sends thick brown ooze trickling down my inner thigh. However after watching the footage and seeing the photographs, it seems even those hellmen riding these water mountains can’t even really do a turn out there, and after the longest drop in surfing, there’s no hint of a barrel, just a straightline race to the wide channel.
Now sure, maybe with a mega 30 foot swell, light offshores and super low tides, Belharra might go top to bottom and morph into some raging European equivalent of Jaws. But right now all I’m seeing is big men, with very big testicles, on big boards taking a drop and doing fuck all else. So at the risk of alienating Europe’s big wave elite and demystifying one of Europe’s best big-wave myths, I’m calling a Belharra a burger. There, I’ve said it. Here at Surf Europe, I’d be pleased to hear your comments and/or bomb threats.