G is for Gouf de Capbreton

Deep. Deep like a skinny girl’s… Photo: Chauché.

The Gulf of Capbreton is a 300km long meandering submarine valley, plunging to abyssal depths of 3km.
Q. What has the Gulf of Capbreton ever done for you?
A. Loads.

You may not regularly make connection between geomorphology and life, but sometimes you just gotta marvel at the relentless hydrological forces of weathering and say, ‘thanks’. Anyway, the G of C is the reason why this magazine is based in SW France, it’s why surf companies make their headquarters in what was until recently a relatively inglorious swamp. It’s, if you’ve ever fondled a man or woman in sexual embrace on a sand dune somewhere in Hossegor area, why you or they (or both) were even there. It’s all because of the Gulf of Capbreton!
The G of C is a deep underwater scar, a bathymetric wonder that brings Atlantic wave power to the near shore, setting the Seignosse-Hoss-Capb region apart along a long French west coast, giving singularly powerful and tall, manful surf. The hugely significant but largely boring science part is that incoming ocean waves make water particles do a cute little spin underwater, when these particles hit the bottom the waves are slowed and become less awesome. When it’s too deep for the spin to touch the bottom, radness follows. That’s about all you need to know about shallow water attenuation bottom effects really.
The next time you paddle your 8’6” deep behind the bowl at La Nord into a screamer on a solid day, the next time you only just manage to hoik off your inside rail into a Graviere cavern, the next time you gleefully receive a bodybashing hiding at a high tide shorey take a moment to give thanks, not looking up, in the traditional way, to an imaginary celestial dictator, but rather down and out to sea, towards your real true benefactor, the all powerful, all amazing Gulf of Capbreton.


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