Friday, September 9, 2011

Barelling, Mast Breaking South Swell

Hah umm yup, last Monday was quite 'interesting' ... I broke a mast in fact

We had a very unusual big long period south swell which lasted for three days with Monday being the peak. We usually only get this in the winter, and then only with wind from the right (Wly low pressure storm wind). As these pics show, the beach break at La Tajita (next beach around the corner from Medano) was massive, and I also heard tales of a freak monster 10m wave breaking over the port in St. Cruz.

The tide was also extremely high, with HT around 2pm, so this meant that I sailed most of the day in the south bay with a late afternoon session planned for the harbour wall (works best at mid tide). Looking up to the harbour - about 1 km away, the waves were breaking a long way out and then chaotic reformed white water was smashing against the wall (about 4m high) with spray flying high above it

The high tide beach break waves in the south bay were big and powerful, but not as clean as the winter version. Wind from the right is cross off and the south swell waves then peel right nicely, whereas with the normal summer trade wind from the left, these south swell waves were closing out instead of peeling left as per the normal wind swell waves. You had to be patient as the wind was quite light and gusty - I was on my 5.2m and 84l Mistral twin, and the sets were only coming maybe every three minutes, but anyway I did eventually manage get some fairly nice rides on head high + waves.

Around about 5pm I was fairly knackered but determined to check out El Muelle, so sailed up. I had just got there and was waiting for a set while sailing in my normal line up spot (first big mistake). Coming in, not on a wave and looking upwind (to my right, next mistake) I must have arrived at the exact spot where the south swell sets were detonating as without warning (well I would have had a warning if I'd been looking to the left, where they were coming from ) I got picked up, went into free fall, and got hurled over the falls.

Definitely the worst wipeout I've had here ... I was getting churned around underwater for ages, had the boom instantly ripped out of my hands, and then had to swim to the kit and luckily got to it just before it was all smashed up against the wall. So just a broken mast, torn luff tube and a long swim back. Unfortunately I didn't get the reward of at least riding the wave that destroyed my mast, and also the frustration of getting completely tangled up with the moorings of the boats in the harbour. At one point I was thinking of leaving the sail and boom on this fishing boat, paddling the board in and coming back later to get the rig. Anyway eventually got back to the beach with a lift from the bomberos' jet ski for the last few hundred meters - they couldn't get anywhere near the beach though, as there were still overhead beach break waves with loads of surfers on them.

ps many thanks to local windsurfer Ernst for lending me his spare mast.

1 comment:

Travel Club said...

u have a great blog and great pics also,