Je adore Le Brusc.... A windsurfing day to remember, Saturday 20 May 2017, in South France. We had our session at Le Brusc, which confirmed to be a fantastic spot, and we took the chance to try, finally, the mythical Coudouliere .... Wind first for 4.2, then for 3.7 ....
Windsurf sessions: Le Brusc and La Coudouliere (France)
After Friday's training at Hyeres, on Saturday, we decided to enjoy the second consecutive day of Mistral in France, and we went to Six Fours Les Plages. Two very good spots in this area: the legendary Coudouliere, a true wave spot, or the nearby Le Brusc beach (see Coudouliere's spot review, and Le Brusc's spot review). By 9.30, we were already at La Coudouliere, to have a look at the situation. Here we find some friends from Brescia, who came here just for the day (crazy guys...1100 km and 6 hours drive round trip in a day!).
We estimate the conditions of the spot, which seem affordable: wind right for 4.7 sail (about 25 knots), and still reasonable waves. Also the direction from NW seems ideal. I would love to try the spot (which was too demanding on occasion of the January transfer). David (my friend who came with me from Italy), however, is hesitant .... I do not like to force friends, and above all, I do not want to be responsible for damages to their equipment, or even for injuries, that might occur while riding in demanding spots.
One of my friends from Brescia tells me that I can reach La Coudouliere also from Le Brusc beach. So, we decide on a fair compromise solution: we go to Le Brusc, where we will mainly have our session, but with the possibility, for me, to come and try La Coudou (and it will be a first fantastic experience for me).
At Le Brusc, we are lucky, and we park just near the beach. The spot is really handy: pebble beach of about 100 meters; you beachstart, sheltered by a breakwater cliff, in flat water, and with side wind. Then, once you are off, you have waves for all tastes.
Even today, the wind will blow strong enough, and, compared to the what we saw at La Coudou, it seems already increased (average over 25 knots). Well, the 4,7 sail will lay in the car today, too, and the Ezzy Tiger 4,2 will be my faithful companion for the session. Since I'm going to ride up to La Coudou, I'm also preparing the Fanatic Triwave 86 TE today, in a thruster setup. My friend Davide prepares Tabou 3s 96, and Point 7 4.7 and 4.2. I wear a 5/3 wetsuit (the 4/3 is still wet, since the day before), and I wear my helmet ...
Once in the water (just after 10.00), fun starts. In the first ride on port tack, I sail with caution, as I am still near the shore. After the large beach just to north of where I started (another possible exit point, but today there are floats to delimit the bathing area), I pass over a shallow waters rocky area, facing a promontory. I look at a local rider in front of me, who passes there without any problems, and I follow him. I will evaluate about 1 meter of water on the seabed, and I understand that I can pass (even though, perhaps, it would be better to make a couple of tacks, and gain more water up wind, in the first rides of your session).
The first part of the session is great fun. First of all, 4.2 sail is the perfect choice. It only suffers in a few lulls, but most of the time I am right powered. The spot is wonderful: beautiful scenery, beautifully emerald water, a sunshine day, 20 Celsius degrees. But above all, the water surface is much more beautiful than that of Hyeres of the previous day: not an absurd and disordered choppy water, but regular waves of rising height moving to north (towards La Coudouliere), often steep, and good for waveriding, or jumping, already at few hundred meters away from Le Brusc beach (where there is the windsurfing school). On the contrary, if you ride to the south, towards the lagoon, being protected by the Ile des Embiez, the water gets flatter. In short, it is a perfect spot for all riders, and almost at everyone's reach (some beginners are rding with large boards, remaining, though, close to the exit point).
I enjoy trying and trying out some maneuvers. I close jibes with acceptable percentage, at least on starboard tack, while the fast tack on 86 wave baord seems impossible, and it requires that I still work a lot on it, perhaps followed by some good instructor. It is also easy to jump, as the waves are predictable, enough steep, and the wind is slightly side to it.
When I have warmed up enough, and I find everything is perfect and I feel good, I decide to go to La Coudouliere. I will tell you immediately that the first rides at La Coudou have been one of the finest emotions I've ever felt, since I've been in windsurfing (now, 10 years).
I arrive there in about ten minutes, making a tack and three rides. Once arrived at the spot, I feel excited. The waves are clearly bigger, even offshore, where there are some steep waves of about two and a half meters, almost never breaking. They are rather smooth and regular. I watch the dangerous cliff in front of the Coudou port, where many have been wrecked. I'll be at least 100-150 feet up wind from it, and I feel safe. I continue to be perfectly trimmed with the sail, and Fanatic triwave ride the sea very well.
But, if I want to surf waves under the promontory, I have to go down the wind, and approach the coast. So, I begin to explore the spot, with a long, gradual bearing away, and with a few jibes. Finally, I am in the area where you can really surf the waves: I still enjoy describing the feeling .... In the water, there are still not many people at this point (a dozen windsurfers - it is about 12 o'clock). I look at the lip of the waves behind me, I try to pump, to take speed, and catch the right timing to surf them. In some cases, I succed in it. I open the sail, I bear away, I set a kind of bottom turn (probably I should lay down more the sail in the water), and I feel the wonderful feeling of sliding down the wave. Unfortunately, most of the time, I happen to find myself as if I had no wind ... when real wind is from behind. Probably, the speed wind coming from the bow, when I am riding down from the wave compensates the real one coming from behind, causing an apparent wind almost equal to zero. I have to learn how to handle this situation, because in the water I often fall because of that. The other thing I still have to learn, is to pick the right timing to start riding the wave, because I often let it go below my board, and sometimes I only start riding on the next one.
The first waterstarts in this area reassure me, since even though I see some fine waves ready to break on me (about two meters high), I realize that there are no such conditions as to wipe out my equipment, and I can make the waterstart in a few seconds (when falling, I already get ready for the next waterstart). Also, unlike in other spots, I do not sleep in the water, and I try to jump on the baord in a flash time. Finally, downwind of this area, there is a shallow waters rocky area, just below the promontory, where the sea is fairly flat (having the waves broken before). In short, the conditions are reasonable for me.
After surfing there, I restart on starboard tack, I go offshore again, and I ride up to gain water upwind. I realize that I ride upwind without problems, and this make me feel safe. I have to say that the waves are more impressive offshore than near the shore, as they are beautiful mighty mountains advancing toward the coast. They're really good for jumping. On one of these, I take off a few meters (3? 4? However, surely the highest jump in my life), with a perfect flight, with the sail open like a wing, and the board flying horizontally, and I finish the flight touching the water with the stern first. Total fun ....
I return several times near the promontory, to the area where you can surf the waves, collecting successes and failures similar to those described above. With winds up to 4.2, la Coudouliere will be a great practising spot for me, to learn waveriding. Early in the morning, especially, the wind is a little less strong, and there are fewer people in the water, and therefore the conditions are ideal. I hope I soon will have the opportunity to return here, with wind oriented more from NW, which is evern better to surf the waves (today it is from W).
After a lovely half hour at La Coudouliere, I return to Le Brusc. Here, conditions remain funny, but less demanding. After a couple of hours in the water, the wind rises, and becomes very strong also today. 4.2 sail is no longer manageable. I get out of the water, I eat something, and do some photos and videos.
I eat bread and chocolate, I sheet in the downhaul (but I would have had to sheet in more ... or even rig a 3.7 today), and I return to water at 12.30.
I feel good, and I decide to point directly to La Coudouliere, which I reach in one ride, in just a few minutes. But it turns out to be a mistake. The wind, now, has increased a lot, and the 4.2 is tiring to keep. The sea is rough, especially offshore, where there are now mast high waves. Because of the overpowering, I rode very much upwind. So, I try to go downwind to surf the waves near the promontory, but bearing away under these conditions is tough, and it's not easy to keep control of the board. Indeed, with wind from NW, and not from W, the spot must be nicer.
After about 20 minutes, I understand that it is better to retreat, before reaching the limit, because I'm doing too much effort, without closing a maneuver .... Under these conditions (there will be around 35 knots), for me the Coudouliere is still too much tough, and I have to make a bit of a practice in more affordable conditions/spots. I reach again Le Brusc. Unfortunately, I have spent a lot of energy in this further hour in the water, and practically my session can be considered over. I go back to shore, where I have some rest, and I get some nice photos with the Reflex. The spot is crowded (it's Saturday), but apart from a bit of mess at the parking lot, there is no coexistence problem. The landscape colors are beautiful, and I get some very nice pictures (see link to the gallery at the bottom).
I will return to the water at 13.30 for a sort of personal photoshooting, for which I thank my friend Davide. But I have little residual energy, and a too big rig. I almost immediately go out. That may be enough. The day was very satisfying, and we must also drive back to Monza (Italy).
Before we leave, we go back to La Coudouliere. We go over the promontory to take pictures (see link to the slidegallery at the end of the article). The spot is now very crowded, and the show is impressive. In the water, as always, the enfant prodige Loick Lesauvage, who, this time, is training in some aerials. He will definitely become a great champion.
Seeing the spot from above, however, it does not look perfect. Beyond the fact that the wind is side on and not side, near the promontory, it seems that mostly foams preavail, and the waves break 50-100 meters further off. However, it always remains a unique spot.
..... And we go away, with the desire to come back here soon, aware of having lived a unique trip.
Hang loose. Fabio
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Click here, to enjoy the slidegallery taken at Le Brusc with the compact camera.
Click here, to enjoy the slidegallery taken at Le Brusc with the Reflex camera.
Click here, to enjoy the slidegallery taken at La Coudouliere with the Reflex camera.
The video taken at Le Brusc
The video taken at La Coudouliere