One could be completely forgiven for seeing this wave — ridden during this week’s barrage of XL swell in the Atlantic — and immediately thinking, “Jaws!” This actually happened a bunch when folks first saw the pics fly in. (Which was admittedly a bit confusing, ’cause Jaws did not look anything like that this week.)
Needless to say, it ain’t Jaws. (Off by about 8,000 miles.) It’s in the Canary Islands, off the coast of Northwest Africa. And no, this is not the first time the Canaries have been compared to Hawaii — with their volcanic rugged shorelines, shallow, hollow and heavy reefbreaks, there’s certainly a hint of similarity. There’s also the little fact that the Canaries are home to the ‘European Pipeline’ – and yes, that’s a real thing.
Region Guide: Canary Islands
But this wave is next level, clearly. And the mad pilot navigating here is Manuel Lecanzo, who’s spent the better part of his life getting to grips with the nuance of his home spot. We caught up with Manuel today and here’s what he shared about this spot and this particular wave:
“When these swells hit, we first look at what’s happening in Ireland, at Nazare – Ireland looked incredible, to see how big things will be for us here in the Canary Islands. But to us, it didn’t actually look that big. So we thought, ‘OK, just another day out there’. But by around 8am, we could see this wave breaking and it was much, much bigger than we thought.
“We’ve surfed it at a decent size before — big and heavy. But more recently, we’ve been experimenting with getting closer to the slab part of the wave. So it actually plays out like this: take off at the slab part, then get into the barrel and keep going until you get to the channel.
“Anyway, we got the ski down there and it was bombing. We sat out there for a bit, me, a ski and a couple of people. It was actually kind of peaceful for a while. We watched a few waves go by and they didn’t really seem that great. Then we saw the sets coming and I knew this was the one. Grabbed the rope and whipped into this thing. I don’t remember much, just saw the biggest barrel and knew I had to race to get out of there. Made the slab section, saw the channel, and knew… it’s going to clamp [laughs]. And it did.
“Came up to the surface, spat some water out, saw the next wave. Took three of those massive waves on the head [laughs]. Was it a good wave? Yeah! Was it worth the beating afterwards, I’m still trying to decide.
“I think the comparison with Hawaii fits. We’ve got what they call European Pipeline here, which, maybe breaks properly a few times in the winter, but it’s not super consistent. I saw the comment from Kai Lenny saying how it looks like Jaws. So guess we’ve got Jaws here now too? North Atlantic Jaws!”