Day five : 2-11-22
Waking up to 4 degrees. Leo went straight out to check the waves. Still flat. We decided to go to a nearby spot. When we got there, we saw a surfer pulling into a tube and shooting out with the wave's breath. He was all alone in the water in a nice strong 2m swell. It was Paco, who was scoring waves surrounded by seals.
We jumped in the water to join him. The waves were really massive.
Paco agreed with us.
He's the best. I have visions of him paddling against the peak, his board hanging at the top of the wave, taking the late drop, and coming our 50m further down the line, expelled by the blast.
Leo and I were chickens next door. The swell was getting bigger and we finally found ourselves alone in a good 2m5. In the distance we saw two bodysurfers joining us. The waves were really picking up, there were about four seals circling us, all in all a world-ending scene.
When the bodysurfers were within reach, I realised that one of the two guys was not wearing a bodysuit but had an air mattress instead. Leo and I looked at each other, waiting to see what he would do with it in such big waves.
Finally, a set of almost 3m waves appeared. The guy turned around and threw himself into the void. Leo was on the shoulder, 10m away from me, and when he got within reach he told me that "this crazy guy had just taken a 2m lip in the back”.
From that moment on we started to wonder where we had fallen. Everything we had seen for two days now was out of the ordinary, we knew that Scotland was no ordinary trip, but at this point it was something else.
I ended up asking him why he was surfing with that mattress. He answered very simply that he liked to experiment with new materials… Right.
We got out of the water rather empty-handed, swearing not to miss the next session like that one, and to remember that we were there to "charge”.
Once changed, we saw Paco, on a spot a hundred meters away, dropping into a mutant wave of 3m. He gathered speed in the barrel before finally coming out and falling in front of the lip. He was completely knocked off his feet and onto the rocks. It was his last wave. His board was blown off and he told us later that he saw himself dying on that one.
We spent the rest of the afternoon scoring some tubes alone at a nearby spot.
Scotland is one of those unusual places, where you will quickly find your limits, whether it is with the temperature, the fauna or the waves. It is therefore "normal" to meet extraordinary people, who have come for the same thing as you. Pushing the limits.
Day six : 3 -11-22
The day started with our truck getting stuck in the mud. I had to find the local farmer and ask for help. He stopped what he was doing straight away to come and pull me out. Really nice. I left France with four cases of wine, for this kind of occasion. I gave him two bottles for him and his son.
The waves were bigger than yesterday. We surfed all afternoon with Paco. The wave was really fast and hollow. After a committed take off, we got to pull into a nice round tube. Every time we exited the wave we ended up with water up to our knees. Scary.
We all hit the slab three or four times. I wouldn't surf this kind of wave if I didn't have a thick layer of neoprene on me.
After debriefing the session over a beer we decided to go to the local pub. While my friends went to bed, I stayed to catch up with the Scotsmen sitting at the counter. Always so nice.
Day seven: 4-11-22
A day without waves, the wind blew on shore all day. We took a walk and had a beer with our new friends, Paco and Isis.
Paco wanted to show us a beach he knew. It was full of seals, both young and old.
This is the calm before the storm. Tomorrow we are going to surf a famous slab in the area. Very little water in prospect.
Day eight: 5-11-22
We woke up early to head west.
Alongside Paco and Leo we jumped into the water from a rocky outcrop. I had never seen waves like it. Not for their size but for their thickness.
The tubes peaked 2m in front of the wave and hit the slab.
Leo caught several waves, while I watched in awe. His commitment was total.
Paco also caught a lot of great tubes.
No matter how hard I tried, it seemed almost impossible to take off on such hollow waves.
On my second wave I got sucked over the lip and got dragged down onto the slab. When I resurfaced the water was up to my ankles and 5m in front of me Leo had a 2m tube. It's really not the kind of sight you're used to seeing, standing in front of a wave. I was getting pretty shaken up.
When you are in that kind of situation, the only thing you can do is protect your head and pray. Honestly those waves would be considered unsurfable if they weren't surfed with wetsuits. Such falls in boardshorts would be unforgivable.
After an hour, a surfer showed up. He shook hands with all of us and landed 3m further in. A set rolled in, and he took off without any apparent effort. He came out 50m down the line with a huge spit.
I then had a chat with him. He told me he was from California and was there for 3 weeks at his sponsor's expense. Two photographers were on the cliffs for him. His name is Dane Anderson. A really nice guy, who drops in like I've never seen anyone drop.
We then hit the road, safe and sound, to check out Thurso East. The waves were great: 5 feet, perfectly glassy. I got in the water without the boys. It was my first time surfing with Scotsmen. The atmosphere was warm and friendly.
The passage to the pub was obligatory because it was a Saturday evening. I spent my night in the pub with Leo and Dane's photographer, Daniel. We had a good laugh over several pints of Guinness and glasses of whisky. Still no girls in sight.
Day nine: 6-11-22
The wake up call was complicated due to the previous evening.
It was supposed to be the biggest day for waves but the swell was too westerly to be picked up properly.
Thurso East didn't work so we went back West. Found a deserted spot, as usual.
After surfing we said goodbye to Paco and his girlfriend Isis. They are heading south. We'll probably see them in Wales. It was a very good meeting. Paco told us about all the spots in the area after two minutes of discussion, and Isis always greeted us with a smile before going to spend 2 hours in the cold and rain to take our pictures.
Léo has booked his return ticket to France. He will be leaving on Friday morning, which means we will be heading south on Wednesday. We'll obviously make a break for it in Edinburgh.
← Previous entry | Next entry →