BE­YOND THE PINES

Carve - - NEWS - WORDS AND PHO­TOS SHARPY UN­LESS OTHER­WISE STATED

THERE ISN’T ANY­THING QUITE LIKE THE FRENCH ROAD TRIP. EV­ERY­ONE NEEDS A YEARLY SO­JOURN TO LES LAN­DES TO SCORE SOME FUN AS HELL WAVES AND SOAK UP A LIT­TLE GAL­LIC JOIE DE VIVRE. DO­ING IT WHEN THE WORLD TOUR CIR­CUS IN TOWN IS ONE EN­TIC­ING OP­TION…

Whether you take the slow road in your own mo­tor and hop on a ferry or take the sting off the trip and do a bud­get flight into Biar­ritz, Bordeaux or Bil­bao and get a rental whip the end re­sult is the same: you end up in the south-west of France. A re­gion renowned for its cheeky reds to most but its sub­lime sand­bars to us.

From the Span­ish bor­der right up to Bordeaux is, with a few river based ex­cep­tions, one long ass beach. A hun­dred-mile stretch of shift­ing sand, gravel and grit that given a co­op­er­a­tive At­lantic can con­spire to pro­duce ar­guably the world’s best beach break peaks. Waves of ev­ery imag­in­able as­pect: from long, whack­able, al­most point break like walls, through mad, gravel-blast­ing A-frame shore breaks that’ll shove grit in ori­fices you didn’t know you had and the pin­na­cle, of course, the rop­ing bar­rels that made the area fa­mous.

France has been on the wave rider’s radar a while, Hol­ly­wood screen­writer Peter Vier­tel kicked off surf­ing in France all the way back in 1956, when he spot­ted the area’s po­ten­tial while film­ing Hemingway’s The Sun Also Rises around Biar­ritz. He got a board shipped over from Cali and, tak­ing lo­cal groms like Joel de Ros­nay un­der his wing, started the French love af­fair with the glisse (the French word mean­ing ’slide’ that all slid­ing sports like surf­ing, skat­ing and snow­board­ing are de­scribed by).

The ‘60s sin­gle-fin era saw the now de­funct gem of La Barre in An­glet as the hot spot and a steady flow of switched on Cal­i­for­ni­ans and Aussies shar­ing the lat­est board de­signs and cul­ture. As boards short­ened and fins mul­ti­plied the fo­cus shifted up the coast to the sleepy beach towns of Hossegor and Cap­bre­ton. The Euro­pean surf in­dus­try blos­somed just in­land out amongst the pines and the world tour soon fol­lowed. Forty years later the tour still makes its an­nual pil­grim­age in a sea­son ex­tend­ing wind­fall for the town. How much longer this hap­pens re­mains to be seen with rum­blings from the World Surf League that from 2019 the tour will start in Jan­uary at Pipe­line and end in Septem­ber at a spe­cial event in the Ments. Por­tu­gal has been mooted to be sched­uled in for spring, there’s been no men­tion of France, which un­der­stand­ably has ev­ery lo­cal biz owner’s fi­nan­cial sphinc­ter tweak­ing.

Time was the hec­tic sum­mer tourist sea­son ended first week of Septem­ber. Then tum­ble­weeds apart from the trav­el­ling surfers in their vans, who didn’t re­ally put much in to the lo­cal econ­omy. As the sum­mer tour event win­dow wisely pushed back in to the more promis­ing au­tumn win­dow for waves it’s ex­tended the sea­son by six weeks. The sec­ond the comp fin­ishes the town breathes a sigh of re­lief, closes the shut­ters and counts the cash. Then plans a nice long hol­i­day to avoid the frankly dull as hell win­ters. Sure it can pump but it can be mas­sive and on­shore for weeks on end and the wa­ter qual­ity can get pretty suss.

Ian Bat­trick has also had a long love af­fair with the shift­ing sands of Les Lan­des

Jeremy Flores has been a Hossegor stand out for a long time. If he’s in town and it’s on then he’ll be the one lead­ing the charge.

Adrien Toyon stole the show one morning of the Quik Pro with this Grav' drainer. the comp moved to the shorey shortly af­ter­wards

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