South Coast Slop to Perfect Points
This time last year I was making preparations for a two and a half month trip down the west coast of South America. Flying into Quito, Ecuador and out of Santiago, Chile, the trip would take me past some world class waves making a welcome change to the crumbly channel wind swells that are part and parcel of being a surfer on the south coast.
I picked up a cheap shortboard with a nauseating spray in Montanita and, following a lack swell, quickly travelled on from the tacky party town and headed down to the Peruvian border. My first stop was Mancora, not dissimilar to Montanita with its industrial sized hostels and inebriated travellers. There was a smattering of beginners on huge boards trying to learn to surf in literally 6 inches of swell, to give them credit, a few of them managed to stand up just from the momentum of the instructors push alone. With the swell drought continuing I again headed south towards the long left point of Lobitos.
Lobitos is a sand bottomed point which whilst not as long as its famous big brother, Chicama, certainly delivers the goods. The vibe in the line up was great even if the locals did clean up on most of the bigger sets. The first wave I caught reeled down the point with almost mechanical perfection and at that time (before I had been to Chicama) was easily the longest wave I had ever ridden. The swell was dying and the waves relatively small but the super clean walls which allowed for a few neat cutbacks left me smiling and gently chuckling to myself under my breath. That itch for good quality waves in an exotic and new location was finally being scratched. I sat contently in the line up and watched the sun slowly disappear beyond the horizon along with the last remnants of swell. I awoke the next morning to a flat ocean, however, being a local at Wittering means I am not dettered from getting in the sea by a lack of waves and desperately tried to grovel on the 1 foot ripples on a hideously short board.
It was time to move again, this time to the longest wave in the world, Chicama. I loaded up the tuc-tuc and began another arduous journey to another remote corner of Peru's arid coastline. The forecast was decent and the swell was due to increase everyday to the end of my week long stay. The small fishing town is unremarkable and wonderfully low key considering it is home to a world class wave. I settled into a beautiful low pace routine of eating, surfing and sleeping and was warmly welcomed at El Hombre hostel, the first surf hostel in town who have been welcoming travelling surfers in its simple rooms for decades.
The wave itself is almost unbelievable. You could go for 10 sessions on the south coast and still not make up the ride time of 1 wave at Chicama. I've never surfed a wave for so long where its quicker to get out the sea and walk back up the point. As the swell built I actually bought a pass which allowed for one of the hotel's boats to come and pick me up and drop me off at peak again which was doubly useful as large swells cause a rip with the power of a river which quickly drag you down the point! The are so many superlatives I could use for the wave but I will let the video below do the talking...
Chicama provided some of my greatest surfing memories to date and I cannot put into words how much joy this indecently long wave brought me. During my week at Chicama I not only had the pleasure of surfing the worlds longest wave but thoroughly enjoyed the company of friendly Cornishman Julian who had surfed this wave some 20 years previous during his upbringing in Lima. His many stories of travelling and surfing round the world were inspiring and did nothing to quell my insatiable wanderlust and for this I thank him! It is perhaps necessary to observer that these perfect points which were the source of such contentment were all the more enjoyable because of the deprivation of good waves the south coast suffers from. However, this wholly unprofound philosophical musing is unlikely to bring any solace the next I stare out at flat, grey Bracklesham Bay.