Slashing into the Wind

Heaps of breaks to choose from with that swell direction, from the popular Cap St Louis to some uncrowded reefs. Quite a surprise to find some secret spots in such a dense populated area. Photo: Florent Bouvier

Archibald Jaeckin writes:

Sitting in the Rock Food holding the ASP Europe Trophy just before the Xmas rush, I was frothing…

Not because of the pile of presents under our magnificent Xmas Tree nor because the Pyrenees summits were covered in a first thick layer of white powder, nor because I was gonna reunite with my wife’s family in Marseille for the first Xmas in 10 years, of course not…. No, I was anticipating some great action between now and New Year’s Eve but not in my own backyard, the ocean in Hossegor had been a no-man’s land since two classic days in late November that helped me live through the crap month of December. The beauty of living in the south of France is the number of options on hand.

Surf, ski or snowboard the Atlantic surroundings or bail foot to the floor to the Med. Yes the Mediterranean, more than a valuable option during the wintery months especially when cold fronts are stuck south towards Morocco and closing out the Gibraltar straight with monster surf. In Marseille they call that ‘coup de Sud’, the ideal fetch pointing directly toward The Vieux Port, the Riviera, the Calanques and the numerous historical sites of the old Greek city. The famous ‘coup de sud’ is supported by a wind called the Labé coming from the south west. Most people will try to explain that the name comes from a curse left by an angry churchman before dying by in fact, after much research and doubting on the different local colourful interpretations, I found out that the name has in fact a Phoenician origin, the founders of Marseille who naturally named that wind Libikos, meaning coming from the south west in Greek. Simple. Then of course, it is not the ideal wind direction for clean conditions that’s when you have to wait for the ‘renverse’: i.e. the opposite wind, usually the Mistral. The Mistral is a strong, cold and usually dry regional wind in France, coming from the north, which accelerates when it passes through the valleys of the Rhone and the Durance Rivers towards the coast of the Mediterranean Sea. And that subtle combination worked out pretty much from Xmas to the New Year, with stand out days on the 25th and on the 1st of January, keeping crowds to a minimum. Nearly 12 straight days of quality surf in the 3 to 4 foot range with a massive swell on the 1st with sets reaching the 8ft mark.

Made my Xmas easier to live through. Made the whole family trip worth while, kids had a great time with the grandparents while dad had heaps of welcome breaks along the golden miles of the Marseille regions…

Photo: Florent Bouvier


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