Le Mascaret: surfing through wine country!
SURFING THE MASCARET IS A VERY UNIQUE EXPERIENCE and for over 20 years, surfers from around the world have come to ride this phenomenon. The wave set/ tidal bore occurs on the Dordogne River passing directly through the heart of the Bordeaux wine region which is another very good reason to drop-in!
The river’s port of Saint Pardon is ground zero for most surfers and kayakers. Located in the commune of Vayres it is only 20 minutes from the city of Bordeaux, and 10 minutes from Saint-Emilion. Both surfers and paddlers use the boat ramp in the center of the village to enter the water and then paddle upriver, riding the waves back to their starting point at St. Pardon (or sometimes beyond). Just one wave set occurs every 12 hours and consists of 5 to 10 waves very close together (6’ to 10’ apart).
These waves move faster but break slower than an ocean swells. Surfers, SUP’s and kayakers paddle for the first wave in the set which carries the vast majority of riders… sometimes over 50 people riding it! The wave is constantly changing shape depending on both river depth and width, it can be hollow, breaking or just a re-forming swell at different points. Around Saint Pardon rides of 1 kilometer from are common and occasionally rides of 20 minutes can be experienced!
Here is a GoPro view from a kayak: perspective:
Another perspective… surfing from the air:
Tidal Bores like 'Le Mascaret' are a rare globally and the most famous occur on just three rivers: Amazon, Severn (England) and the Dordogne.
On the Dordogne they occur year round but are at their peak during August and September as a result of exceptionally high tides (tidal coefficients of 85+). The wave set is created by the tide dramatically rising in the Gironde estuary and then pushing upriver growing larger and moving faster as it progresses inland.
WANT TO RIDE IT? Here are some equipment tips: Wear booties. Short boards are too light don’t work well… A 9’ to 10’ Longboard, SUP or kayak works best. For surfers: heavy boards with very little rocker and relatively thick rails & tail are ideal to get through slower rebuilding sections of the wave. The stronger your board is the better as you can encounter floating branches and submerged debris in the river.
10 & 11 September 2014 is the annual:
Fête du Mascaret
See you there? (à bientôt!) Jack