Three months of non stop storms ended abruptly in Les Landes on Thursday. A much anticipated 6ft at 12 seconds arrived with no wind and mist. A pea soup, so thick you could eat it, left surfers banging their heads against the nearest seawall.
Thankfully convection supplied by a long lost thermal friend helped to burn away the fog and the barrels poured through. "We plundered an incredible barrelling sandbank which lasted for two hours before moving on and surfing till dusk," says photographer, Marc Gassó. What a day, Romain Lahule, Arthur Bourbon, Vincent Duvignac and Joan Duru made up the French contingent, joining a crew from across the Spanish boarder, including Imanol Yaregui, Indar Unanue, Mikel Aguirre, Jaime Izquierdo and Hodei Collazo.
"The sandbank looking like Kirra, breaking further from the shore than a classic Gravière." Said Arthur Bourbon "The waves were pretty long and the strong rip made them really hollow. We were a few ones out there and everybody was getting barrelled wave after wave. I couldn't believe it! So weird to jump for a total apocalypse to a perfect spring day of 20°c, blue sky and barrels."
This was a welcome break for Arthur from the run of insane storms which have torn up the coast for months. "This winter we had the strongest storms for 20 years. Since the middle of December it was more or less a storm every week. It's was pretty terrible for the coast, all the dunes got totally destroyed, we discovered some new blockhaus! The good thing is that the sand banks look really good everywhere. It was really stormy for four days then the sun came out yesterday with some offshore winds but no one knew where was the spot. We found it and scored it by ourself."
"It was a great session, good tubes, weather and good friends in the water. What I call a perfect surf session." Said Indar Unanue, who'd come up from the south for the first time since the leaves turned brown. "This winter has brought big swells and strong winds from the south west, in my home we've had great waves with these conditions, but in France, until yesterday, I had not crossed the border in the winter to go surfing. I love the waves of France, and it seems that now we have some good days."
"It was amazing today, from the smallest wave to the biggest sets, the barrels were wide and all with just a few friends out there." Said Hodei Pikabea,. "The last couple of months have been hard because it has been too big for our coast, so it was amazing to surf with friends in the sun."
The superlatives for the return of Landes were in full flow. "This session was just amazing, probably my best of this year because I really love this kind of wave. It's the sort of typical sand bank I used to chase and surf all around Landes. After catching waves like this, I really know why i'm surfing." Said a froth Vincent Duvignac "These last two months were crazy with these storms and only a few possible sessions. The coastline has suffered more than before and it's sad to walk on our dirty beaches... I haven't surfed for six weeks half after slipping a disc in my back. And now every session is like being a reborn, especially this one."
The current forecast for Landes is for nearly two weeks of undulating swells in the fun to perfect range. It's as if winter ended on Thursday, March 6th and spring time perfection arrived. Who knew that the weather had these on/off switches, perhaps the government does control it after all.