Photographer Recounts Massive Waves in Belharra, France

Posted: Jan 19,2014 Written by  Jean Charles Barthelet

jean charles barthelet massive waves belharra france
Wisely waiting for another one...

-Written and photographed by Jean-Charles Barthelet

-Translated from its original French

January 8, 2014 - It is difficult to describe magical moments. Usually, we keep in our heads. Today, I give you my feelings at Belharra in a boat, the closest to a wave of fifteen meters after the storm Hercules. I hope that this report, in the heart of the action, will bring a more balanced view of what constitutes the feats of surfers that day. To compare only the size of the waves based on photographs taken with a telephoto lens trivializes these adventurers ...

9:30 p.m. I prepare my gear for Belharra

belharra massive enormous wave france surf sunset
The sun rises in the Basque Country.

The day dawned. 
Belharra is still a young girl, soft and soothed. Jet skis come off.Some surfers identify them already. "This is the Portuguese" or "Guys, Jamie arrives"

The protagonists leave the ropes used to tow. Discussion. What size will Belharra be today?

Ski jets prepare equipment towing

9:30 A series comes to pass. Larger than the other. A deafening sound. It reminds me of Tahiti. I wonder how big the wave was, thinking it was a big Belharra. Surfer smiled. "  Going off, it will double ". Damn! Double?!?

The wave begins to snore.

I see Pilou Ducalme, Shane Dorian, Benjamin Sanchis, Justine Dupont, Vincent Duvignac Thomas Cottin. Between sets, we are discussing. Wave covers sometimes our words.

Cries burst, Shane Dorian has just Belharra rowing . Others will follow. Madness. Surfers towed stop shooter leaves room for those trying to surf the monster rowing.

jean charles barthelet massive waves belharra france
Black and yellow Shane Dorian takes the wave rowing! Nobody thought he could do it..

The ebb and Belharra strengthens . Some waves exceed ten meters. I am assured that it will grow. I find it hard to believe (or I prefer not to know).

Our pilot is accurate and experienced. I myself am a surfer and boat license, but this does not prevent me from taking fear . Sometimes we are 80 meters from the monster and suffer too.

Belharra is a real sight. Everybody shakes but everyone knows what to do.

The wave is enormous. It is a real nightmare. You would not think is in France.

At midday the biggest sets arrive. Some waves approaching fifteen metersIn the middle, beyond ten meters, there are countless. It says "It's big." And that's all. The rest is for the newspaper. Here the guys are fun.

Sometimes you see a surfer rowing try to take a monster. At this time, I swear it happened to me, you think: No, dude do not do that. Expect next. It's too big there ...

While rowers raged and Jamie Mitchell takes an estimated eighteen meters mountain, Rico Leroy pilot a jet waiting his turn. He smiled. I wonder what he's thinking.

I wish to emphasize the great mastery and engagement drivers of these jet skis.Unpopular in the media. "Noisy and useless at sea." Here they are indispensable and have a crucial role.

To do their job better, they should be closer to the rider and therefore the wave.. Respect guys!

At Belharra, the sets are spaced. Twenty minutes sometimes. Three waves which last are the most impressive as the first smooth the water and still give more perfection to the following.

jean charles barthelet massive waves belharra france
Bombs in Belharra.

From time to time you photograph a wave without seeing what happens behind. Suddenly you discover the second wave. It is a feeling rather uncomfortable but exciting . Probably a matter of habit.

Waves arrive at once hidden by previous

While some have achieved feats of day, the biggest bombs return to Peyo Lizarazu. For some time, it does not stop. You understand the importance of knowing a wave, "local."

Some gossips say he is at home and has a certain "priority". Probably. But me, priority, I let him Belharra.

I spent almost ten hours on the water to shake me, and neither eat nor drink. A little seasick optional for two hours. If we add the good times of stress when the series swelled, I swear it's exhausting. Imagine the surfers in the water ...

Meanwhile Rico Leroy and Antoine Albeau sent wholesale. So, it is ridiculous but the pilot light jet skiing, I felt safer in his boat, piloted by his friend:-)

jean charles barthelet massive waves belharra france
Tow and Jet Ski are an important team in such big waves.

Offshore, we can distinguish flicker cars on the ledge opposite. We imagine all these people parked roadside and tries to see the monster. In those moments, we feel privileged.

Belharra makes men but the hardware too. Around 13H, it will be enough one big wave to break six boards. When you see the size and thickness of these boards, you can imagine the pressure that has befallen it.

jean charles barthelet massive waves belharra france
Broken boards.

jean charles barthelet massive waves belharra france
More broken boards.

Belharra reached fifteen meters that day. Surfers waiting for more. For my part, I was pleased. Believe me. 


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