Every northern hemi surfer adores September and the start of October. These are our months, the ones that usher in sea change. And after one of the flattest summers in quite some time, that change is very much welcome. For surfers in France though, one burning question remains after these back-to-back swells over the past few weeks; 'Will La Graviere be good this season?'
It's an important question. The wave shape at France's premier beachbreak along that miraculous Hossegor stretch has been a little funky for a while now, or certainly not living up to its powerful, and potent, potential. On Monday, we got an opening taste from the first proper swell for La Grav, which should act as an indicator about how south west France's favourite wave is going to behave over the next few months. The swell angle was good, the wind; better! All it needed was for the locals to start feeling it out there, get in the groove, find the bank and let loose.
Spot Guide: Hossegor
So, is La Grav on the up? As with most things in surfing, it really depends who you ask. “It's finally back,” said Willi Aliotti. “All I can say is, this winter looks really promising.”
Vincent Duvignac is keeping his cards close to his chest: “Not sure as of yet,” he told MSW. “This year, looks like there is a big amount of sand outside, and lots of sand on the beach. Could mean it will be bad.
“But with the last storm and big tides, everything has been connecting up though, and even some wedges on the shorebreak. But overall, I was happy to surf my favourite spot where I learned how to get barrelled... without having to spend hours paddling against the rips.”
Photographer Seb Picaud's been out there for most sessions over the past couple years. “Yeah, those deep tubes were finally back at La Grav,” he said. “The action started around 10am with the high tide. Vincent actually opened the barrel ceremony and then was quickly joined by some local legends, Flores, Pat Beven, Willi, Guillaume Mangiarroti and more.”
Another Hossegor vet Pat Beven was out there yesterday: “The bank is starting to come back, slowly. You know, we've had the first few swells and it just feels as it things are getting set up, the sand.”
We ask Pat about La Grav's subpar performance over the past few years, he said: “I think it's been bad for maybe a year, I don't know, I got some bombs out there last winter. La Grav worked maybe one or two months out there. I don't know why, the bank has been moving a bit? It's going to work this winter, I think, hope so!”
So do we!
Forecaster Jamie Bateman breaks this one down: "The North Atlantic jet stream powered up this week following on from ex-Hurricane Fiona’s trip to Canada’s Atlantic coast. Low pressure, that formed within the juiced up jet to the south of Greenland on Thursday, Sept 29th, and grew over the next couple of days.
"A fast moving, large swathe of 50mph WNW wind, behind the storm’s cold front, set up a fairly solid, north west swell, which was aimed right at south west France. This combined with the all important middle-of-the-road swell period, those 12-13 seconds are perfect numbers for temperamental sand bars. Couple that with a gentle east wind, and that's the prime ingredients for an A1 session in France on Monday morning."