Over the summer we had our first adventure in the campervan (read about it here). The aim of this trip was not just to test the campervan’s ability and limits, but our own too in the world class surf of De La Torche. De La Torche is located in Plomeur on the north west coast of France. It hosts international surf, sup and windsurf competitions and has ultra consistent swell through out the year (although it’s best in winter). It is fuelled by the North Atlantic and is affected by wind and ground swells. There is a historical site of an old fort on the Point De La Torche which you can walk round and is a great vantage point with views out to sea and of the beaches. You can find out more on the Plomeur tourist website.
There are two beaches at De La Torche, the Bay of Audierne and Pors Carn. The bay is a straight beach that stretches a few miles whilst Pors Carn is a curved bay protected by edge of Penmarche and the Point De La Torche. Pors Carn offers smaller waves as they are pushed round the head land. On the biggest day we witnessed waves at 11ft+ (a scary sight and tremendous noise). In Pors Carn you had the choice of riding the 11 footers as they rolled in next to the point. Or as you worked your way further round, they were about 2-4ft against the headland. Depending on the swell direction Pors Carn often gives smaller waves compared to its neighbour.
We were excited to get our first day of surfing in, so once settled in to our campsite, we explored the way to the beach. The next day we loaded up the bikes with our boards in our DIY board racks (which I will write about building in another blog) and headed for the beach. We chose to spend most of the week in Pors Carn as it seemed quieter and myself and Louise are relatively fresh. Louise is a surfer and having spent some time in Australia learnt out there. I have never been able to grasp surfing short boards so SUP surfing is my calling. I was riding my RRD Iwave 8’6. It was the smallest sup board I saw out in France, it is only 28 3/4″ wide and 4.5″ thick meaning it’s volume is not great, although I am not sure exactly what it is. I am aware this is not the smallest you can go but unless you’re surfing ultra consistent glassy surf or can rack up the hours practicing frequently (which is not very likely in Kent) then it is definitely small enough. Louise was riding her retro fish 5’6 twin fin. It is a wide board giving her the stability she likes but is small enough for her to maneuver and carry easily.
On the first session we went out at low tide, revealing huge crab legs and empty crab exo-skeletons. I mean huge! We eagerly entered the water hoping to catch a few. I caught a few…. wipe outs! I had only been on the board a few times before so was still learning how to ride her. Within half an hour I was feeling more confident on the board in the 4 foot surf.
Then after a minor wipe out I stood up to feel something squirm underfoot. I hopped on to my board in a slight panic but as I did so felt a pinch on my foot. I presumed a crab had given me a warning and tried to ignore it and continue surfing. Initially my foot felt warm but as time went on the sensation intensified. So much so I had to stop, the pain was like an ache and a burning sensation. We deduced I had been stung by a weaver fish!! The only cure was to put your sting in boiling water to help remove the poison but this was not an option being 30 minutes from the campsite. We read that getting the blood flowing will help, so there I was, less than an hour into surfing, running up and down the beach trying to make the pain go. It peaked after an hour and faded very slowly after. What a great start to the holiday! The walk back now seemed like a good option!
The rest of the week was spent progressing between us. Catching a few but more often than not failing. The RRD performed so well when I was able to catch. It was an amazing feeling getting in some bottom turns. I had learnt a lot from this trip and thought I could have a go in some of the larger waves and tried this out in some overhead waves. Let’s just say I took a beating!! After sucking up my pride I returned to the the smaller waves. On the first ride I pitched my board and due to the power of the wave my board suffered. The nose got stuck in the sand and was pushed over snapping the nose clean off. Although ending on a downer, this trip firmly embedded my love of the board and of SUP surfing.
Thanks to Saviour Water sports, I was able to get the board repaired and it still performs amazingly well! The conditions at De La Torche are incredible! We would highly recommend this as a surf destination and a family holiday.