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The Wave - Around the World in 80 Waves (1 - 20)

Around the World in 80 Waves (1 - 20)

by Sam Bleakley

The next four features celebrate eighty mouthwatering waves from across the globe. Not the usual collection of heavyweights, but a fine mix of ludicrously long points and perfect peelers (from Algeria to the Western Sahara) that will hopefully keep your fires stoked. Enjoy the ride…


Around the World in 80 Waves # 1 Arugam Bay, Sri Lanka (photo Emi Mazzoni) : Legendarily long arcing right pointbreak, capturing the imagination of travellers' since the 1970s. The southwest monsoon swell season brings 3-6 ft offshores from April to October (flat on this east coast for the rest of the year). Sand movement has an impact on quality: early in the season the ride is short, mid season, as the swells sculpt sandbars along the rock shelf, the fabled Arugam Bay starts to sing. There are numerous take off spots, spreading the flock. It throws tight to shore, demanding a high line. There are countless feathering sections, with some double ups, barrels and minute long rides. Long lulls and flat spells are common, but the surfer-friendly fishing village has developed a bohemian scene.


#2 Batu Keras Point, Indonesia (image : Java Cove Beach Hotel) : Bellowing sandy bottom right Java pointbreak, running 300 metres at low tide. North facing, it requires a big wrapping south to southwest swell to come alive in a wild jungle cove. It's a hollow start, then a deep water peeler, going and going directly in front the Java Cove Beach Hotel. July through September is best, and a solid south swell will break from 2-6 ft. Goofyfoot Indonesian noseriding expert Arip Nurhidayat has honed a hot act at his local spot right here. "You can hang five forever through the middle section," he says.


#3 Bocca Barranca, Costa Rica : Sizzling muddy-water left river mouth sandbar near Puntarenas, peeling for an endless-feeling 500 metres. Nestled deep in the Gulf of Nicoya, it needs a solid southwest swell between April and October, when deep low pressure systems position off New Zealand. It's usually small, yet stupidly long, and smooth enough to make every single section. Minute long slides are guaranteed because this easy-rider wave will rarely outrace you.


#4 Byron Bay - The Pass - Australia (image : Surfing Art) : Brilliant, flowing sand bottom right pointbreak, wheeling for 400 metres down the New South Wales coast. There are currents, crowds, and you have to read the sections wisely, but get the right balance of racing, pulling in and cutting back, and a ride at The Pass is unforgettable. The season lasts from October to June, exposed to multiple swell angles from the northeast to southeast, and working from 1-6 ft. A waist high swell pushing from low to mid tide generates sucky walls, forming and re-forming further than the legs can handle. Surfing here is all about flow, mirroring the ambiance in Australia's favourite hippie hang out town, Byron Bay.


#5 Cane Garden Bay, British Virgin Islands (image : Steve Fitzpatrick) : Sensational cobalt blue right cobble pointbreak, 200 metres long, expiring in a bay usually dotted with catamarans and luxury yachts, sheltering from the trade winds. Facing west, Cane Garden needs a big north swell to break. It holds size and demands a high line approach, speeding sections with tight tubes and bellowing cutbacks through the inside. When small it's shallow and demanding. The locals are ready to devour every set, so a charming attitude is a must. November to March is the main season for thumping north swells, and hurricane seas between August and October can be all-time.


#6 Capo Ledo, Angola (photo : John Callahan/surfEXPLORE) : Perfectly foiled trio of cool-water, sand-bottom left pointbreaks, three hours south of Luanda. Endless head-high sections unfolding 200 metres for trimming, turning and gliding. The inside point is least wind affected. The breaks light up between April and September when South Atlantic storms send consistent 2-6 ft, five day swells. Angola has 950 miles of coastline, and countless similar quality pointbreaks. 30 years of civil war since independence from Portugal in 1975 has ravaged Angola, captured in Ryszard Kapuscinski's epic 'Another Day of Life' (1976). Today, the political situation is stable. Supporting adventure tourism (by going surfing here) is the best thing you can do to help.


#7 Capo Mannu, Italy (image : Paolo Carta) : Rich wine-dark Mediterranean Sea right on Sardinia, pouring down the point for 100 metres. It requires a northwest mistral swell, possible between September and May, working from 2-8 ft. The same wind will blow offshore, and tidal range is not a factor. Swells are short-lived, so have to be savoured. The Mediterranean is notorious for sudden and violent short-lived storms from the mixing of Atlantic, African and European weather systems. In summer, between July and August, two week flat spells are common. This is also possible in January and February due to the cold continental high pressure. Capo Mannu hosts an annual Italian longboard event. "Every Mediterranean longboarder dreams of scoring this spot good," says Italian Longboard Champion Alex Demartini.


#8 Car-rille Point, Philippines (photo : Jefferson Ganuelas) : Sheltered beguilingly long right reef point, peeling for 300 metres near San Fernando, Luzon. The rides go on and on. Usually you'll kick out from boredom, concentrating on the quicker outside section. It works only on the big 6 ft northeast monsoon pulses between November and March. Under those conditions, Car-rille turns into a waist high treasure, good all tide, with a flat, spongy and safe reef. The ride is framed by huge cargo ships and tankers coming in and out of the bustling city port of San Fernando. Pollution and nearby traffic is a problem. The local La Union crew await eagerly for Car-rille to break. It rivals the best Californian points, and there are no crowds.


#9 Careneros, Panama (photo : Mathias Buzios) : Tight and playful left point reefbreak, uncoiling for 200 metres along the Caribbean coast of Bocos del Toro. The peaking, sometimes tubing takeoffs are followed by mellow shoulders to carve up, and open pockets to enjoy. Careneros is at the northern tip of a small island just off Bocas. Paddle or take a boat. It breaks from 2-6 ft through November to March in the shockingly powerful swells that form and spin off Cartegena on the north coast of Columbia. Swell is unhindered by the deep Caribbean Sea, before unloading on the shallow shelves of Bocas. Summertime northeast wind swell between June and August is also a super reliable source for daily 2-4 ft slides at Careneros.


#10 Cherating, Malaysia (photo : Surfing Malaysia) : Fizzing, friendly silt-water left rivermouth, unpeeling for 200 metres over a hard-packed sandbar on the east coast. There is a zippy takeoff, a swift speed section, then a safe shoulder with lazy walls and tapering shoulders. Straighten out at the end of the ride and walk up the beach. The season is the November to March northeast monsoon, sending 1-6 ft swells. The tidal range is large, and best from mid to low. Cherating is a charming small beach town 30 miles north of Kuantan. There are many places to stay and local spicy Malay cuisine to feast on. Weekend surfers come in from Kuala Lumpur and Singapore.


#11 Chicama, Peru (photo : Javier Fernandez) : The world's longest pointbreak, peeling left for an eternity in a lunar-like landscape. This is a model beginner/intermediates wave with potential two minute rides on soft, flowing walls. The image of stacked sets at Chicama is unrivalled. It normally breaks in sections on smaller swells. You can ride your way down the point, from La Isla, through The Cape, The Point, El Hombre and finally The Pier, before walking (and walking) up the black sand beach. Chicama is uncrowded due to the lifeless terrain (other regions of Peru are more striking), cool water, lack of facilities and possible boredom of a never-ending ride! April to October is the season for Roaring Forties south swells. Northeast wind is offshore and low to mid tide is best.


#12 Cimaja, Indonesia (photo : cimajahomestay) : Bowling, lively right reef in West Java, bouncing across the cobble bottom for 60 metres. Overhead, at 6-8 ft, it becomes a washout, but at 2-4 ft Cimaja is a loose, open-toed wave, with an eccentric and friendly local crew to banter with. It breaks between April and October on a southwest swell. Rarely flat, Cimaja also works during west swells in the December to March wet season. All tides are good, with high much slower and more user-friendly. Hometurf to Indonesia's surf star Dede Suryana.


#13 Crescent Head, Australia (photo : crescentheadsurfco) : Classic thin-lipped rocky right point rivermouth, peeling for 300 metres, and forming a style hotspot on the New South Wales coast. Dolphins, sting rays and whales are common company. Fast takeoff, cover-up (or head-dip) section, then the wave bends majestically, following the curvature of the shoreline, allowing trim and turn combinations, fading into the rivermouth. Breaks between February and May on an east swell and light south wind. Nestled in a sleepy township with dunes, pandanus palms, an arcing ten mile beach, rockpools and starfish. Favourite wave of 1964 World Champion Midget Farrelly and 'Surfing World' magazine founder Bob Evans. A launchpad for the 1980s longboard revival.


#14 Domes, Puerto Rico : Smooth peeling luminescent right reef point, unravelling over lava blisters at the tip of Rincon. Puerto Rico's north coast is a swell magnet, and Domes is offshore in the east to southeast trade winds. It works best at head high, trimming into a beautiful flowing wall. Crowds are a problem as Rincon is the headquarters of Caribbean surfing, with a series of breaks through Indicators, Maria's, Tres Palmas to Little Malibu. Puerto Rico is aided by a deep trench offshore, and head-on exposure to pumping north swells between November and March. Domes also breaks on small easterly trade wind swells, and classic hurricane conditions. Hawaiian haole Fred Hemmings won the 1968 World Championships here in perfect head high surf.


#15 Elands Bay, South Africa (photo : Pierre Tostee) : Cracking kelp-covered left pointbreak, snapping over the shallow reef, then winding into a rivermouth end section. Rideable all year, the best swells arrive from the stormy southwest between March and October, with power, punch and size. Elands is north facing, so needs an overhead swell and southeast wind. Tide range is three metres, and mid tide is ideal, especially in the 3-6 ft range. You enter Elands Bay from the top of the point. Follow the road to the beach, and park at the base of the point. Double ISA Longboard Wave Champion Matthew 'Mouse' Muir says "for a goofyfooter, Elands is everything you ever want in a performance pointbreak. It's incredible."


#16 Encuentro, Dominican Republic : Premier series of super fun and fruity lefts and rights, peeling through crystal clear water over reef and sand near Cabarete. This is the heart of Dominican surfing, known as the Amber Coast. It can be crowded. But the scale of the break means there is space for everyone with a good attitude, and the locals are easygoing. At low tide, in the early morning glass, with shoulder to head high swell, the peaks known as La Dercha and Bobos will peel for 60 metres. The takeoff peaks, bowls, then unfolds into a beautiful section, before cutback corners, and small playful pockets all the way to the beach. Well positioned for delicious 2-6 ft northeast swells from November to March.


#17 Enniscrone, Ireland : Temperamental and super-long right pointbreak tucked away in Donegal's convoluted coastline. The faces are greasy and green over sand and kelp-covered reef when it breaks. It needs a pumping north swell and south winds. At waist high it is perfect for gliding tracks. At shoulder high it's all trim and speed with no cutback sections. Above head high the faces open out and tube: the takeoff can barrel and churn for ten metres, followed by an open face and arcing turns through the inside. There is a fun beachbreak nearby. Quick changing weather demands accurate forecasting and the luck of the Irish.


#18 Fete, Ghana (photo : John Callahan / surfEXPLORE) : Upbeat, sweetly formed and zippy pointbreak, with quick pockets and long open walls. Against the west-east current the paddle is tiring, but the interaction with the local fishing community is rewarding. Sometimes they ride the shoulders in their boats. April to September is the swell season, with regular south pulses breaking from 1-4 ft. A north wind and low tide is the perfect combination. Fete is mellow and consistent, with nearby vibrant culture and polyrhythmic music to tune into. Ghana has a 335 mile-long coastline, lined with multiple right points and beaches. Headlands are marked by old slave forts, a grim ghost-reminder of Africa's colonial past.


#19 Freights Bay, Barbados (photo : zedsurfadventures/errantsurf) : Turquoise coloured, bath water warm, outstanding left reefbreak, interconnecting three tantalising sections along the south coast. Usually small and mellow, then on strong southeast swells, between November and March, and low to mid tides, Freights connects into a 200 metres long wailer that requires maximum trim. Climb and drop as the face sucks up with a distinctive hiss, before unpeeling like ripe fruit into a soft ending. Malibu surfers Butch Linden and Johnny Fain left boards in Barbados in 1965, and first wave local David 'Freight' Allen is honoured by the breaks name. It's a favourite for Bajan beach culture, easygoing locals and curious loggerhead turtles who will swim right up and ask you the time. Local legend and surf school pioneer Zed Layson describes Freights as a "swimming pool with waves."


#20 Guethary, France : Roiling Basque-country reefbreak, going right and left for 60 metres through deep open water towards the fishing village of Guethary, just south of the glitzy seafood and wine town of Biarritz. Guethary breaks all year, preferring a northwest swell and southeast winds. Low to mid tide is good, holding 3-15 ft. In 1996 French surf clothing brand and longtime sponsor of professional longboarding, Oxbow, hosted the ASP/WSL World Longboard Championships in huge surf here. Hawaiian Bonga Perkins won, inspiring a new generation of French longboarders. "Guethary is amazing for carving," says local star Antoine Delpero. "There's a lot of space on the wave, which makes it perfect for bigger boards."

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