Chasing the Dream - Mundaka

17 Jun 2011 0

Chasing the Dream

It is a rare surfer who is not also a traveller. The siren song of perfect waves peeling off unmolested on distant coastlines has lured most of us to leave our local lineups at some stage in ou lives. Even the office-bound weekend-warriors of our clan are tempted to take virtual pilgrimages to surfing's Shangri-las via Google Earth and live the dream vicariously on Vimeo.

To help you chase down your dream waves, Coastalwatch are profiling some of the planet’s premier waves and giving you the chance to win a trip to Hawaii for the Pipe Masters…

MUNDAKA, Biscay, Spain

The surf travel experience comes in many different and exotic flavours. And one of the most delicious is Basque. Nowhere captures this particular variety of stoke more vividly than the quaint old seaside port of Mundaka, in the Basque region of north-eastern Spain. The legendary rivermouth left holds a special place in surfing folklore, a rare almost mystical apparition that only comes to life under the brunt of the most ferocious North Atlantic swells when the broad rivermouth sandbar in the Bay of Biscay has formed at just the right angle. When these conditions combine with a stiff offshore out of the valley, prepare yourself for one of the most heart-pumping sights in surfing. Top-to-bottom, thick-lipped, sand-dredging barrels roar down the sandbar for hundreds of metres, offering one of the greatest and most challenging tube rides on earth. Couple it with the scenic backdrop of the unspoilt, historic town, rolling green fields, the ancient church on the hill and the craggy offshore island out to sea and you have a seascape that could have been composed by one of the great masters.

Mundaka will not give over its delights easily though. You must lie in wait for a deep low to form in the North Atlantic and swing into the desired swell window in the Bay of Biscay.  The ideal time is late in the northern Autumn, before the European winter has truly set in. Winter and early Sprig can also yield the desired swell conditions, but prepared for frigid temperatures. You’ll need good directions just to find the place, negotiate the maze of highways from south-west France, a border crossing, a labyrinth of little country lanes that wind their way into the town. Though Mundaka is renowned throughout the surfing world, this is no surf city, and there are few signposts to point the way. Even when you reach Mundaka itself, you’ll have to weave through narrow, cobblestone laneways to find a parking spot and make your way to the harbour wall to get a view of the lineup.

All this manoeuvring will help prepare you for what awaits you in the lineup. The outside peak is dominated by a thick pack of locals who descend on the place whenever it roars to life. A fiery Basque territorialism ensures they get their fair share of the set waves. If you manage to snavel one from the pack, you can forget about turns for a while. Grab your rail, set your line and hold on. The wave accelerates so fast down the line and the lip line draws out at such an extreme angle, one even slightly mis-timed turn and the Mundaka freight train will leave you hopelessly behind. Get it right and you’ll find yourself locked into a mind-boggling time tunnel, spat out hundreds of yards down the sandbar. Paddle out in the current next to the harbour wall, make your way back to the peak and do it all again.

On land, you can enjoy the classic Spanish tapas and good, inexpensive red wine at any one of dozens of quaint old bars, or wile away the mornings with an espresso along with the old blokes playing cards. Or simply marvel at the stunning, Spanish beauties strolling by. Though with a strong Catholic faith and that staunch Basque territorialism, you’d be well-advised to look but not touch.

Mundaka might have been light on for waves during the ill-fated history of the Billabong Pro here, but this is not a place to expect waves most days of the week. Put in the time, watch the weather maps, and mind your manners and you’ll be delivered one of the most memorable surfing experiences on the planet.

Zone:  North-eastern Spain
Overall rating: 9/10
Best size:  6-8 feet
Best months: October-November
Swell direction: North to North-east
Wind: South
Consistency: 5/10
Difficulty: 9/10
Best board: 6’8”
Bottom: Sand
Length of ride: 150-200 m
Ability level: Advanced
Tide: Low to half tide.
Bring: Steamer, spare leggies, a smattering of Spanish, your tube-riding act.











Coastalwatch are giving you the opportunity to win a trip for two to the Pipeline Masters along with a Canon EOS 600D. Click on the button below for the details...

Prize valued at $6,000(AUD)












Tags: mundaka , spain , travel , chasing , the , dream , surf , surfing , competition (create Alert from these tags)

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