Picture the scene – side shore waves vs side offshore waves

March 13th, 2018

Two scenes, two distinct style of riding waves – which one do you associate with the most?

Bouke Becker wave sailing

The side offshore wave sailor

He/she rigs their favourite sail, the smallest they get away with, and attaches it to a floaty board. Floaty yet super radical and manoeuvrable. The launch is tricky with a big wind shadow, the occasional gust coming through irregularly helps propel them towards the peak. Fortunately there’s a defined channel with A-fames unloaded to either side. As the rider makes their way further out the breeze gets stronger and delivers a few more consistent puffs to help pump onto the plane. With a degree more speed ‘out back’ seems ever closer. A small peak rears up and it’s tempting to launch a jump, but no, the journey to the outside is where it’s at, so no boosting today. Having chucked in a quick tack, or gybe, outside momentum is made back inside. Soon a large wall of water starts to jack up behind. He/she pumps hard and soon the windsurfer’s speed is increasing as the wave walls up further. Growing ever bigger, until it’s a proper thick slope complete with throwing lip, the rider drops in the sail filling with plenty of apparent wind (it’s at this point that smaller sail choice was a good one as too big and he/she would now be overpowered). Feeling the board’s rail bite an arcing bottom turn is cut into the wave’s butter smooth face. Sling shotting back up to the now pitching lip the rider prepares to hit the heavy section. Soon they’re launching skyward in a plume of spray and salt. Coming back down to Earth (or rather the ocean) in front of the curl there’s room for two or three gouging turns before exiting stage right, kicking out and beginning the slog back to the peak for a repeat performance.

El Cotillo

The side onshore wave sailor

He/she rigs their smallest sail and attaches it to their smallest board – control is key on such blowy days. Launching into the maelstrom white water is everywhere, but with power from the off it’s a full chat race towards the oncoming swell. A lump rears up and the rider hits the apex with speed. A massive boost follows with a controlled rotation ending in a dry hair landing. But there’s no time to hang around as the next wall of water is approaching fast. Powering up and the windsurfer makes it outside in a flash. A lightning fast gybe and then it’s back towards the pit to do battle. Jacking waves are everywhere and it’s tricky to choose the correct one. One wrong move and the rider will eat it. Fortunately a smooth open face shows itself which the wave warrior can drop into. Bending into a contorted clew first shape their bottom turn is tight and speedy. The lip throws just as the rider reaches the sweet spot. Whipping the sail across their body, and towards the tail, a goiter is banged out, the rider landing within inches of the exploding white water bomb chasing them down. Fast actions ensures a few more hits before rounding out with a backside 360 off the shore dump close out. Stepping off their board he/she takes stock for a moment before heading back into battle once more.

Andrew Fawcett