BIG SWELL OCTOBER 2010
By Daniel Alcock
October the 8 th , 9 th and 10 th saw by far the biggest waves on Gran Canaria in quite some time. Here is a surfer's perspective of the week running up to that weekend and how it all unfolded.
The forecast was good and just kept getting better… this was definitely going to be the biggest swell of the season so far, but it could go above and beyond just a great swell and become something special, something that we only see once in a while…
Waves that arrive in Gran Canaria are created by storms in the Atlantic and roll gently towards our shores to be enjoyed by many surfers here on “the Hawaii of the Atlantic ”. In the final days of September there was plenty of action out there with two big hurricanes running past creating mayhem all over the coasts of Western Europe .
This particular swell was from the North West . With swell from this direction, even if it is really big, it is hard to notice in the south or southwest of the island because these coasts are protected from this swell direction and Tenerife is in the way for it to properly get through to the more western coasts.
So it was all eyes to the north. Thursday saw the first big pulse of the swell and an early dawn patrol by the Surf Canaries Team (enjoying a day off) paid off with perfect overhead waves. Out at the big wave spot ( El Paso ) there were a few well prepared guys out, taking big waves and paying the consequences with some huge falls and broken boards. The photo says it all! (yes, that is here in Gran Canaria!)
The following day saw a rise in the swell which took it beyond ride-able for the mere mortals, the most terrifying thing was that the swell was still due to rise further for the next day!
Most spots on the north were simply enormous and just too big to even contemplate going near the water. Damage was being done to the coastline from San Felipe right through to Las Canteras (and are still being repaired as we write). Seeking some shelter, we found that the waves were so strong and penetrating so much that they were wrapping round the island and setting off “new” surf spots which on most days don't see waves. Top bodyboarder from Gran Canaria Ardiel Jimenez, taking a break at home during his charge for the 2010 Bodyboard Drop Knee World Title, was photographed getting some incredible waves in the North West of the island (near Galdar). He told Canary News later that he has really enjoyed this last swell and that it has given him great training as he heads into the final stages of the World Championship.
One spot in particular was ridden by a couple of the Surf Canaries Team just on the entrance to Las Palmas next to Vegueta. Having to walk along the highway ½ km then scale the sea defences to get in the water, it was quite the adventure but we were greeted by perfect waves, almost double the height of a person. The big drawback was the water quality (a big outlet pipe just next to us) and so we came out happy having a great surf but smelling of $***! Whilst the authorities would have us believe that the usually clear blue seas of Gran Canaria are clean, there are several hotspots on the island where sewage is discharged very close to the coast. Ever wondered what that smell is as you enter Las Palmas , just parallel with Vegueta? As surfers, we get a first hand view as to what the reality is here and Canary News will be following this subject.
By the next day, the swell was on the drop and things were returning to normality again leaving us with good memories, increasing our knowledge of the different spots and the waves that they can produce when the surf is massive. What's more, this swell has highlighted the need for more control over sewage outlets into the ocean in Gran Canaria. To be continued…