Quote of the day "Not to sound too deep or weird, but I think that the times when you really appreciate surfing are the times you're really sort of becoming one with nature. Surfing's as raw of a sport as it gets." Kelly Slater
It's September 2016. In general, one of the better months to surf in The Netherlands. The first storms of autumn already hit the North Sea, but the water is still at twenty degrees. However, it is obvious that the summer is over and winter is coming. During a surf session Morris and I chat about doing the things we really love: surfing and riding powder. And then the question arises: how can we combine it in a trip? As more often with good ideas, it dies in beauty. Until I get a call from Quiksilver. If we want to have a chat. They’ve been following wePowder for years and thought it was a good idea to combine surfing, skiing and snowboarding in one trip. Say what?!
It didn’t take us too long to decide where to go. We’ll head to the Basque Country, combined with that other big mountain range on the European continent, which we all really do not know too much about: the Pyrenees. This is storm chasing with an additional dimension. On the one hand, we want clean conditions for surfing, on the other hand, of course good snow.
Surfing and freeriding have many similarities. You are dependent on nature, you must make the right choices and the feeling you get when grabbing a wave is similar to riding through untouched snow. Flexibility often is the key to success. And so my phone rang on Friday afternoon. 'We MUST leave tomorrow morning and not on Sunday evening! Capbreton gets about 2-3 meters, off-shore wind and 15 seconds. 'For those who do not surf: that's about the same as 60 cm of fresh powder with bluebird conditions.
After a day on the French highway we arrive in a small hotel south of Bordeaux. The car is full of surfboards, wetsuits, snowboards and skis. The next morning we check the webcams and drive the last 200 kilometers towards Basque Country. The first stop is La Piste, the characteristic spot with its bunkers on the beach at Capbreton. The swell comes in like crazy. There are several peaks, but it is also busy. It may be the first beautiful spring day with very good waves and all the locals seem to be in the water. We decide to drive further south. Anglet it is.
The conditions are really good here as well. We dive into the water and do a first session of an hour or two. Morris catches some beautiful waves and I make the first meters of the season in French waters myself as well. The nice thing about surfing is that when you get out of the water after an hour or two of paddling, you really have a very satisfied feeling. Arms that feel like spaghetti, the salt that is still in your nostrils and the sun burning on your head.
Time for the next spot. As this session was pretty heavy, we choose for a more mellow spot: the bay of the Hendaye located at the Spanish border. We visit the Boardriders Club on our way down there; the big hang-out annex shop located at Quiksilver's European headquarters. A stone's throw from Lafitenia surf spot, views of the Pyrenees, and an awesome skatepark just in front, all board sports come together.
Some people on Hendaye's seafront promenade give a strange look when they see the skis and snowboards coming out of the car. We have another great session of an hour or two in Hendaye as well. The wind blows light off-shore, the waves are clean and when I'm riding down the wall of the wave, feeling the power of the wave and seeing the mountains around the bay, I feel that ultimate freedom. This is what surfing is about!
The day ends on the steps of the Plage de Cotes de Basques in the surfing capital Biarritz and a Pain Américain on the Grande Plage. It feels like home. Not even two days on the road and now you've already got the feeling of being away for a week. And then the Pyrenees still have to come. Next stop: La Mongie / Tourmalet.
Check out the Waterman collection from Quiksilver here!