Michel Bourez, Teahupoo. Photo: Ben Thouard
(For a sneak peak inside the issue, go to the bottom of the page)
A lot has happened over the past few weeks on the shoreline around here. Well, actually not that much. We had a run of pumping surf, then total flatness.
First it was therapeutic, lovely flatness. Get other shit done, drink beers from lunchtime watching the World Cup type flatness.
Then it started to drag.
The thing is, the flatness was caused by one guy, who I was convinced I was going to watch die. During the Oakley Surf Shop Challenge at Anglet, which I was pretending to work at, I decided to go for a little splash at a spot known as le Club. For those of you unfamiliar, it’s a funny little spot. Generally placid, but also kind of mega dangerous. The beach is sort of fake, with two close together jetties so a rapidly risen swell doesn’t really know what to do with itself.
Anyhow, in thick, if wobbly 4-5ft peaks I paddled out next to the jetty. The jetty is made of massive boulders, and protrudes a good height out of the water, even at high tide. As I got to the lineup, I looked back to see a guy in the worst case scenario - caught between a wave and the end of the jetty.
The first one smashed into the rocks with alarming violence. As it drained, he appeared half sitting half clinging to one bolder. The next wave, a solid 5ft-er landed on his face and I was convinced he was dead, if not seriously injured.
I started waving my arms furiously at some people on top of the jetty to call for help. They waved back jovially. ‘Bonjour!’
The second wave drained and he’d been washed higher up the boulders now. His blue twin fin fish dangled by the leash as he braced for another impact. Boom. The next wave, the biggest yet pinged him upside down and up further still.
As it washed off I expected to see him face down with half his skull missing. Another half dozen waves smashed into the rocks. The last one drained, and he was sucked off the jetty finally, and floated towards his board.
He got on it and started paddling off, seemingly unscathed. I literally couldn’t believe it. It was the worst thing I’d ever seen in the sea. Suddenly, there were no more sets, the ocean was calm and it was almost as if it’d never happened.
I think I caught one more wave and came in, told a few crew, they looked at me, like, ‘he must be exaggerating’. No sign of our man.
But even if nobody else saw it, Huey seemed to know what went down. He calmed the swell down overnight to total flatness. And the next day, and then next. ‘Better give that chap a little time to recover’ mused Huey, wisely.
Some two weeks passed of surf-less Biscay. Not a ripple. Even when it howled onshore in fierce storms, it stayed stubbornly flat. On a Friday, I went to the bio store to get some goodness and you won’t believe who I saw coming out of a board repair place in the same street... our man from the jetty!
His blue twin, freshly filled and buffed was ready to go again. ‘You!’ I said, pointing at him, his board, then back at him... ‘You!!!’
He was as surprised as me when I recounted how I’d witnessed the full horror of the incident. He’d told all his mates and no one really believed him either. Admittedly, the dings on the fish were minor. He didn’t have a scratch on him.
We got to talking of the swell forecast for the next day, and to spots that might be working with the early tide, the usual suspects.
He had his eye on a big sandbar up north, far from any man made structures.
“I think I’ll keep away from jetties" he chuckled.
Which was both wise, and unselfish. Another flat spell would surely be the end of us all.
[part title="Peek inside issue 106..."]
On the set of Deus’s I Had Too Much To Dream Last Night, Harry Roach and Thai Buddha discover that just as classic surf lore is immortal, time still stands still in the mystic eye of Nias.
by Harrison Roach
Lagundri Bay, it casts a powerful spell. Full of mystique, it’s that perfect right-hander with palm trees in the background. A mellow almond eye that turns into a grinding cave, as soon it’s six feet. Travelling to and surfing Lagundri Bay has always been the dream. Whether it’s the VHS memories of Jack Mccoy’s “Storm Riders", or the more recent exploits of J.O.B and Makua Rothman, the wave has beckoned me like no other. As a regular footer, it is the kind of wave that could produce the wave of a lifetime. I have no idea why it took me so long, but what finally set my belated voyage in motion was a story I read by Kevin Lovett in The Surfer's Journal.
“I had picked off a smaller one on the inside, and was paddling back out, when I saw John drop into a 6-7’ wall that just stood up and pitched straight over him. Not a drop of water out of place. The moment crystallised. I was spellbound. As he cruised by, I stared in amazement at the ecstatic look on his face; water droplets hanging in his beard, totally immersed in the experience."
[part title="Michel Bourez - Gorilla in the Midst"]
by Sean Doherty
We’re talking scars and Michel Bourez has plenty. He’s got two big fleshy white crescents on his left shoulder, another slash of scar tissue on his right, and his broad Polynesian feet are a road map of intersecting scratches, tears and holes from reef dancing at home in Tahiti. He shows me his ankle and tells me there are still bits of reef in there and he’s going to lance it when he gets home and fossick around to find them. “The only good thing about flying on a plane is that it’s the only chance my cuts have to dry out." He’s just landed in Fiji, a short jump across the Pacific pond, ready for the next event in a season he’s dominating, having won two events from four, the first wins of his career. The quiet Tahitian has come to life this year, and the idea of a Tahitian winning the world title suddenly isn’t as crazy as it might sound.
SE: What’s the Tahitian word for “winning"?
MB: Umm... we don’t really have a name for that I think.
[part title="Ozzy Hearts Indo"]
by Jed Smith
Twenty years of Indo adventures with the archipelago's biggest fan, Ozzie Wright.
Ozzie loves Indonesia more than any other place on earth. "It just absorbs you and massages you (mischievous laughter) and just gets you barrelled and enlivens your spirit," he says. He first came here as a foetus in his mother's womb and when we caught up with him most recently was on Sumbawa filming for Dion Agius' new film. The trip was #1098 through the archipelago and we had him open the chest on his favourite Indo adventures - from the his first trip here with Rabbit Bartholomew as his guide, to the time he and Luke Hitchings got the shit kicked out of them on the floor of the Sari Club, to watching Mark Healey surf giant Desert Point on Magic Mushrooms.
[part title="8 Steps For Summer Survival"]
Step 8: Eat Free
There are three principal ways you can achieve free lunch based on skill, cunning, physical and mental prowess. Just three.
The first is to became a man-whore gigalo who specialises in older women. You might find particular success in the cities of Tokyo, New York and Los Angeles. In return for pleasuring women of a certain age, you will be taken to restaurants at both lunch and dinner time, and you will order from fine menus. Perhaps it’s an award winning Finnish pop-up restaurant with a stark interior where you’ll eat smoked eel and herring tartare, which while expertly-prepared, unfortunately reminds you of the task ahead. Man whoring is not great for the soul, and there is little evidence it is good for your surfing.
The second is to frequent surfing competitions and masquerade as the media. In all honesty, you are probably three emails away from this, a couple of weeks before the event starts. Once you have received your press accreditation, you’ll be able to eat for free each day the event runs. ‘Free’ should probably be used in inverted commas, because the price you’ll pay is having to attend a surf contest. Yes, I know it seems odd for us to say it, but there is no clinical evidence that attending surf events is either good for your soul or your surfing, perhaps quite the contrary.
Thus the third and vastly preferable method...
[part title="Alex Botelho Living Large"]
by Ricardo Bravo
A big guy with big hair and even bigger grin. A grin the size of a house.
He is a sizable human in many dimensions.
When the surf gets big, he goes pretty big.
When it’s medium/small, he throws big ol’ buckets.
He dwells at the bottom of a big Portuguese coastline where a big yellow sun burns proud.
Alex Botelho a 23-year-old Portuguese surfer who used to work in restaurants to make ends meet, but now just surfs and surfs. And he has no plans to downsize - much less down tools - any time soon.
The coast in the south of Portugal, particularly around the town of Lagos, has been a place of immigration over the past few decades. Its gene pool mightily more cosmopolitan than the surrounding sun wizened fields of rock might have been mid way through the 20th century. Today, in the schoolyards or out in the lineups, you’ll find kids with parents of mixed nationality, parents who maybe went there on a holiday from a northern land and promised themselves never to leave the balminess of Europe’s most southern extremity. A well-known case would be the Lipkes and former WCT surfer Marlon (Danish/German parents). There’s pro surfer twins the Guichards from down in Tavira (French/Norwegian parents), and of course, there’s big Alex Botelho. Born in Oshawa, Canada in 1991 to a Dutch mother and a Portuguese dad, the only coast around was the frigid northern shoreline of Lake Ontario, where winter temperatures can dip to a brutal -40 degrees C. Mercifully, the family moved back to Portugal when Alex was 6, something he’s pretty happy about in retrospect. “As far as I’m concerned it was the best decision they ever made. I can’t really picture myself in a red Mountie uniform chasing outlaws up and down the mountains on horseback, so Portugal was an inspired move."