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Time flies, especially when the surf is consistent.
Unlike my last visit in Senegal two years ago, it's been quite consistent at the westernmost of Africa this time. Believe it or not, I kind of sensed it while I was still in J-bay late October last year when that Code-Red storm hit all over the coastline of Europe. My instant thought was - "There might be more of unusual winter-storm activities in the northern Atlantic this winter." And I was right then :-)

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Almost six weeks have passed since I came to Senegal and we've had proper ground swells at least on three different occasions.
The first one arrived on my first week here (How lucky was I?!) and the swells were southerly, so all the major spots on the south coast in Dakar were going off then. The second one came just after Christmas from North / Northwest and I broke my Firewire at Quakam Right (Damn it!) But it was the third one which struck here during the second week of January and kept us super busy running for the best spot to surf and to dodge some enormous ones. The below is some of the story during the week:
(Note: Some of the photos in this article were taken by Arne, Andre, Roneen and David. Thanks very much, guys!)



@ January 6th (Mon)

As all the major surf-forecasts showed some crazy figures from tomorrow on, our expectations were inevitably higher than usual, but I didn't really see or feel any of the anticipated swells while I was surfing with my wooden Egg in the morning. It was max 3ft on sets.
Still too early, but they slowly began to show us the gravity of what was more to come at the outside of N'Gor Right as shown in the photo below. It was taken just before sunset at low tide. The wave might look mediocre in this photo, but it was big and heavy enough to make me wow.

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@ January 7th (Tue)

Quakam Right started simmering in the early afternoon as the tides were pushing in. Waves were about 3ft on sets with light offshore winds. Very luckily, only a few guys were sitting on the line-up - two German surfers Malta and Andre, two Spanish guys and me only.

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Jesper paddled out later on and caught quite a few waves as if our mother nature gave all the good waves to him for his 37th birthday today. Happy birthday, Jesper!

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@ January 8th (Wed)

The peak of the swells was probably on this Wednesday.
I actually couldn't sleep much not only because of some Rum and Coke and all the sweets that I had at Jesper's birthday party late last night, but also because of gigantic waves crushing over the cliffs of N'Gor island, which made a big constant noise like thunders throughout the night. It was so loud and slightly frightening.

I'm not sure if anybody ever tried a tow-in session at N'Gor on this day. It must have been well over 10 feet out there. A bunch of us on the island, without even waiting for the sunrise, took a special boat to the mainland and drove straight to a spot called Yenne, about one-hour south from Dakar by car.

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While Yenne's local fishermen were getting ready for a catch of the day at the crack of dawn, we were scratching our sleepy eyes and trying to see how big and good set-waves were.
By 7:30am the horizon became visible enough to us, and we realised that it was spot-on! Waves were about 4ft on sets with no wind and it was quite consistent as a set came every three to five minutes. The left-hand was sort of closing out in the beginning, but the right-hand was running long, probably the longest wave in Senegal (?)

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Waves at Yenne tended to be soft at times but very rippable. I found them similar to those waves at Point in J-Bay - good easy waves to practice with your favourite maneuvers.
By mid-afternoon the wind came up and the tides got nearly full. While we had so much fun at Yenne, Quakam was apparently cooking in the afternoon....

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@ January 9th (Thu)

So the peak of the swells was definitely on Wednesday, but my personal highlight of this whole week was actually on the following Thursday morning when the swells dropped a little bit at N'Gor Right.
I was checking the conditions on top of the cliff early in the morning and waves still looked at least 8 to 10ft on sets, clearly heavy, but clean and seemingly makable. Young eager German surfer Andre, who was working and surfing here since September, convinced local goofy-footer Kouka to come along with us.

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I must admit that I was quite nervous to surf on this day, just concerning about the unusual size and heaviness of the waves. So was Andre. However, as soon as Kouka decided to come out with us, I think there was a bit of relief as well as sheer excitement amongst us.
I actually have a whole lot to tell you about what was happening behind the scene on this day. To cut the story short, however, it was Kouka who sat deeper than Andre or me and caught the very first set-wave. I was watching how he approached and took off on it: his usual relaxed style didn't change a tiny bit and he rode the wave as if he was surfing a mundane 2 footer at Secret. I was simply amazed by him and then the game was on.

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Unfortunately and so unexpectedly, Kouka dropped out a few minutes after this wave. A couple of monsters showed up out of nowhere. They mercilessly sucked him in, especially the second wave which completely tore off the leash-plug of his gun (It was a gun, it shouldn't have happened!)
The photos below show the moment: Kouka was about to get smashed while he had no choice but simply threw away his gun and dove in as deeply as he could (No way to duck-dive with your board at this super-heavy N'Gor Right) Andre happily took off on this second bomb in the meantime.

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Kouka turned out to be in no state of panic when he emerged from tons of white-waters (he used to be a diver!) The only pity then was that it took us a little while to get a boat out and to pick him up there.
By the time the boat took Kouka back on land, the usual onshore / cross-shore winds came up to roughen those clean heavy waves....

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Andre caught quite a few waves and I even saw him taking off on one or two heavy triple-overheads.
I'd seen him catch big waves a few times before, but it was another level on this day. Perhaps, he could become the very first big wave rider to represent Germany in the future....?

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Meanwhile, I caught two waves and one wipe-out during this session. The photos below show the second wave that I caught. I thoroughly felt the energy of it when taking off and going down the line through quite a few big bumps.

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A great thing about this second wave was that it wasn't only a take-off, a little fat shoulder popped up after my first bottom-turn and I was able to cruise all the way to the very end of the inside section.
Needless to say, I couldn't be bothered to paddle back out there afterwards. I happily came in without any hesitations. Such a lucky wave for me!

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For this session I randomly picked a Minami's red TufLite from Jesper's board-stock. I don't know the exact dimensions of this board because it had been snapped previously and repainted over where the dimensions were written down. It was probably 6'5 or 6'6 long with a squash tail. I chose it because my two personal sticks were both 5'8 long and definitely not suitable for this day, plus Jesper's 6'2 Bitch board that I was borrowing would also be a bit under-gunned. Thanks very much, Jesper!

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@ January 10th (Fri)

Strong onshore winds started blowing since last night. Yet the remains of the swells were still big enough on this Friday.
No surf around N'Gor island due to the winds. Therefore, Arne (Andre's father) and I headed straight to Quakam, and it was spot-on!
For all my sessions at Quakam Right in the past, I often had to race the first section. Otherwise, the wave just closed out. However, thanks to the very strong offshore winds in this afternoon, waves peeled off nicely and there was even a mini-barrel to be had or a pocket-riding to be made after a take-off. Arne and I caught quite a few good waves and had so much fun.

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@ January 11th (Sat)

Once again, the peak of the swells was definitely three days ago, but there were still plenty of waves to be had on this Saturday. I took the photo below at a spot called Vivier as a Rip Curl contest was being held there over the weekend.
Funnily enough, by this Saturday I kind of surfed out (Hahaha!). Nevertheless, I had one long session at Secret in the afternoon.

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What a great week of surf in Senegal!




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My revenge-match on surfing in Senegal was complete with great waves and only one tiny urchin thorn in my foot this time :-) What also made me really happy about was the fact that most of the local surfers with whom I surfed here in December 2011 were still here after two years. It was great to see them and I was once again impressed by the standard of local Senegalese surfers (what I mean by "local" is to exclude those grumpy French ex-pats.) Many local surfers here are quite stylish and they surf differently from how those African guys surf in South Africa.

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I also felt very fortunate to having a choice in surfboards this time, which made my surfing a little more versatile than before and got me out of the ordinary.
The photo below shows all the boards that I rode during my time in Senegal.

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A little summary of each one of the boards goes below:
(Note: those who are considering to purchase Firewire boards should have a read on the third paragraph.)


1) 6'6 (?) Minami TufLite (Tail: Squash & Thruster)

For the first two years of my RTW trip I surfed an Al Merrick 6'1 TufLite. I liked it because it was almost indestructible and very light. It was super easy for me to travel with it. However, I also disliked it at times because it was too light and easily be blown away on windy days. Furthermore, there was no flexibility - that's why it's called TufLite, right? I eventually gave it away to a local boy in J-Bay in June 2012.
Now I had a chance to surf another TufLite for 8ft+ N'Gor Right (See the previous article for more details.) And Umm.... No complain about it as I just borrowed it from Jesper and I managed to catch a couple of big waves on that day. Nonetheless, I only wish that the tail of the board had been round-pin or pin and that it had been a little heavier to help me punch through those bumpy waves.


2) 6'2 Bitch (Tail: Squash & Thruster)

A bit disgraceful name as a brand.... It was shaped by a South African. I borrowed it from Jesper who told me that the board could be a bit loose when turning on rail.
I actually rode this 6'2 more than any other quivers while in Senegal and I quite liked it. The board was never too loose for me when making a turn or a cutback and it had an extra thick stringer for additional strength, yet it was not heavy at all. This Bitch board actually made me think about going back to a conventional PU board after riding so many epoxy / EPS boards for the past few years.


3) 5'8 Firewire V4 (Tail: Double diamond & Quad)

It's a great shape, especially the tail which bites into waves so well while I am still able to maintain speed on turns. However, the durability of this Rapidfire-tech board is highly doubtful as it has already been broken twice: I once creased the bottom-deck on a 4ft wave at Supertubes in J-Bay last October (it was less than a month after my purchase), and I creased it again - a different part of the deck from the first one - on a 3ft wave at Quakam in Dakar on Boxing Day last year. Now I only have the below to say to Firewire's corporate geeks:
All major manufactures of electronics, cars, etc immediately announce a recall when they discover a design flaw in their products. I spent about ZAR5,500 on my V4 and it didn't even last for half a year! I'm now wondering if a very similar problem has occurred to other V4 and Vanguard riders. If so, there is definitely a problem with this product and I'd like to get a refund. Otherwise, will you send me another V4 made in FST not in Rapidfire? This V4 with no stringer and no balsa-rail is ridiculously fragile.
Seriously! 99% of surfers all around the world are not pros, we PAY a lot for our quivers and most of us don't have a wide range of boards to match the wave-size and conditions of each spot we surf. It's really time for Firewire to raise the quality as well as the durability not the quantity.


4) 5'9 Hollow-wood Egg (Tail: Round-pin & Single-fin)

It was built and shaped by me! And the glassing was done by Patrick. It's my "own" board and it's more environmentally sound than any other boards which are commercially available today. Moreover, it feels completely different from any other boards I've ridden before.
Objectively speaking, however, this Egg can hardly be a performance-board. It's rather a pocket-riding cruiser than making a deep bottom-turn and a hack on the lip. One downside of this wooden board is that it is quite chunky and heavy, especially the nose part. It floats so well and it's so easy for me to catch and take off on up to 5ft waves, but it tends to generate so much speed when going down the line due mostly to the heavy nose. I sometimes find it almost impossible to get the rail into the face of a wave.
Well, this board has a single-fin on and I'm still getting used to it. I should also try twin-fins on it sometime soon.


Overall, trying different boards is so much fun and it's very interesting to see how my style could change depending on the board I ride. I used to be stuck with one or two particular shapes and particular brands, but not anymore. As there are so many different spots to be surfed on this planet, there are million different boards to be ridden.






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