A Weekend in the Life of a Surfer: The Swell of the 15th - 19th February 2008, Arguineguin
By Daniel Alcock
Every once in a while, the south of the island plays host to incredible waves and the surf circus comes to town. Here is a local surfer's account of the most recent big swell in the south and highlighting that surfing isn't just about catching waves, it's the whole social lifestyle that accompanies it. Let me set the scene. To have good surf conditions, we are not looking for stormy conditions. Before we wax down the boards and put the beach boys on the stereo there are, in fact, a number of complicated factors to give us our truly perfect conditions.
First and foremost, it is a myth that the surfer is looking for wind. To the contrary, he is looking for zero wind, or even wind blowing against the waves from the shore ("offshore"). What is important are strong winds a long way away that provide us the waves which head to our shore ("swell"). When this swell then arrives at the beach, and considering that the wind hasn't arrived with it, we also have local factors to consider. Each beach works differently on different swell directions, tides and wind directions so some local knowledge is required - it is critical to get the tide right on each beach or either the waves won't work (in surf talk "bummer") or they break too close to the shore ("gnarley wipeouts!").
All this complicates the surfer's life because when the waves finally come he has to be there. Therefore it can make it very hard to make basic social arrangements, inducing gnarley wipeouts with the girlfriend/boyfriend/parents/boss etc. But the good thing is that when the waves are good, it really brings together the crew for a few days and its fun on and off the water until the swell dies back down and everyone returns back to their normal lives...
Here is my account of the most recent big surf event in the south of the island.
Friday 15th Februaury 2008
11:00pm Finally, the strong south-westerly winds that we had been subject to over the last few days moderate, turn offshore and start to produce the best surfing conditions of the year for the south of the island...
Saturday 16th February 2008
7:30am Good solid conditions in Arguineguin at first light.
9:00am The Surf Experience Surf Club bus heads to El Faro (Maspalomas) with an excited crew on board. Jack, Tegan, Pernille, Cristian, Paula and Charlie put on a good performance with good but slightly wind effected waves.
3:00pm The swell is powerful and clearly rising as we return to Arguineguin.
4:00pm The tide becomes right for "El Callao" (next to the cement factory) and we jump straight in the water. We are greeted by excellent waves.
The beach soon starts to fill up as word of the swell spreads and friends from all around the island start to congregate. There is a nice atmosphere in the water with each of us catching quality waves. We remain in the water until it gets dark and paddle out when we can no longer see.
7:30pm Run home, quick shower and change into some warm clothes.
8:00pm The crew from the water starts to arrive in "Surfer's Central" (my house!) and we head out together to find some much needed food at nearby "Bocatito" where we remain for a while exchanging stories of the day in the water.
9:30pm Back to Surfer's Central and there seems to be a move afoot to go to the final day of the carnivals in Playa del Ingles... surely not a good idea if the surfs going to be good tomorrow?
11:00pm Out at the carnivals! Surf culture is all about having fun with the people you share waves with, and this can often spill into the night!
18th February, 2008
8:00am First surf check reveals big swell but poor conditions due to the tide and bad wind direction. Also reveals more surfer friends in fancy dresses who had arrived during the night, broken into the house and were now sleeping on the floor!
9:30am A quick surf check in Maspalomas doesn't reveal much quality either, but there is a lot of potential for later for when the tide drops. So, back for breakfast - pancakes for 8!
12:00pm Arguineguin is on and we start scrambling around, music on loud, waxing boards and changing into our wet suits. The atmosphere is ecstatic.
The session turns out to provide the biggest waves of the year and there is hooting and cheering as we all take turns to catch international quality waves. There is a fantastic vibe in the water.
5:00pm The swell starts to drop as the day goes on and after a fun surf in Tauro, everyone sa ys their goodbyes and goes off their own ways, until the next time.
There were some outstanding performances that day from local surfers and visiting professional contest surfers alike. We had been blessed with a weekend of perfect surf and good times. Surfing isn't just a sport, it is also a medium for friendship, travel and adventure. It has been said that "the true dedicated surfers live their lives to the rhythm of the ocean, and not to any clock beat or schedule" and this is true - making the surfers life healthy, fun and exciting... but a little unreliable at times!