The Land of Per­fect Line-ups

Surf Girl - - Spot Check - pho­tos SHARPY

“Ev­ery morn­ing of the trip I surfed glassy peel­ers, most of which break in the outer reefs”

I’d heard a lot about the waves in Madagascar, so my ex­pec­ta­tions for the trip were high. But I’d also heard about the sharks, which were also on my mind. How­ever in a month of surf­ing per­fect 2-6ft waves I never spot­ted a sin­gle shark on the reefs there.

Ev­ery morn­ing of the trip I surfed glassy peel­ers, most of which break in the outer reefs, just a few min­utes’ away by boat from the lodge where we were stay­ing. The one I surfed most was Roger’s Right, a very long wave when the right swell hits the reef, pro­vid­ing a nice va­ri­ety of walled sec­tions, some­times a bar­rel sec­tion in the mid­dle, and, if you’re lucky, a sec­ond bar­rel on the in­side. It’s a great wave to prac­tice rail turns, floaters and top turns in some very fun sec­tions – and it’s easy to make it all the way to the in­side, ready for the long pad­dle back out to the empty line-up, to wait for an­other set wave. It’s dreamy and tir­ing af­ter a few waves.

When it was too small at Roger’s we surfed a low-tide right han­der, with a fast and super-fun sec­tion where you can do two or three pocket turns, be­fore it slowed down for some rail carves or cutbacks. Then there are the lefts; the most fa­mous of which is Flame­balls, nearly an hour away by boat, where a tube ride above a shal­low reef makes a great-look­ing wave and the most sought af­ter in the area. It needs a de­cent swell to work and holds well in the wind, mak­ing it a great op­tion on the big­gest days. Un­for­tu­nately I didn’t get to surf it this time, but I did surf an­other left, just a few min­utes’

from the lodge and so much fun, with an easy take-off, a walled sec­tion and then a faster fi­nal sec­tion above the reef.

I surfed amaz­ing waves ev­ery day and on a cou­ple of ses­sions there were only of cou­ple of other peo­ple out. I met some guys from the Re­union Is­lands who’ve been surf­ing there for over 20 years, in search of good waves away from the sharks. The rest of the crowd were made up of three groups of surfers stay­ing in our lodge. The first was a fun English fun crew, in­clud­ing shaper Markie Lascelles, World Cham­pion long­boarder Ben ‘Skin­dog’ Skin­ner, Sharpy, the tal­ented pho­tog­ra­pher, and Jem Rogers, one of the lodge own­ers who usu­ally scored the bomb of the day. The sec­ond group was made-up of the three peo­ple on my trip: Va­le­ria, the happy Mex­i­can 17 year-old, surf coach Justin West and Rita, the nicest woman you’ll ever meet, who had the job of mak­ing ev­ery­thing hap­pen. Fi­nally there was a group of South Africans – a trio of fifty-some­thing year-old guys and one of their sons. One of them, Deon, not only made a few bar­rels but was also a great fish­er­man – he caught nine fish in three hours, seven of which were over 6kg.

All th­ese guys were easy-go­ing, fun and super happy, which made this trip super spe­cial. Meet­ing them was def­i­nitely the high­light of the trip, along with the empty line-ups, of course. The feel­ing of pad­dling out into per­fect waves in the early morn­ing light makes my heart beat faster and makes me want to get back there as soon as I can.

“The feel­ing of pad­dling out into per­fect waves in the early morn­ing light makes my heart beat faster”

“I fell in love with Madagascar and will def­i­nitely go back”

The worst el­e­ment of the trip was prob­a­bly the long jour­ney to get there, but it was to­tally worth it – it was amaz­ing to ar­rive at the lodge by boat, wel­comed by lots of ex­cited kids from the vil­lage. The peo­ple and the cul­ture are amaz­ing. The boats are hand­made and the sails look like rice bags sewed to­gether. The older boys and men sail and fish far out the sea, while the younger ones learn how to sail and fish closer to the shore. The kids play on the beach all day (I think they go to school af­ter lunch) and they are al­ways smil­ing, singing and danc­ing, and look very happy. They tried to com­mu­ni­cate with us with some French words they had learnt, but their Mother Tongue is Mala­gasy and I wished I could un­der­stand it.

Be­cause the waves are so long and there are no crowds, life in the wa­ter was end­less pad­dling and catch­ing waves. Af­ter four hours of surf­ing I was tired and sore, so when the on­shore winds hit in the af­ter­noon, it pro­vided a wel­come rea­son to en­joy the amaz­ing and com­fort­able lodge, where you could play ping-pong, watch movies, play cards, eat great food and min­gle with the lovely peo­ple stay­ing there. Or you could just ex­plore the end­less, empty white-sand beaches.

I fell in love with Madagascar and will def­i­nitely go back. What with beau­ti­ful peo­ple and cul­ture, amaz­ing un-crowded surf and trop­i­cal, crys­tal­clear wa­ter, what else could you want on a surf trip?

Leonor try­ing to make the most of a slower sec­tion at Roger’s Right.

Lo­cal women car­ry­ing wa­ter gal­lons.

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