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Late Season Southern Hemisphere Delivers Big Swell to ChileEric Akiskalian for Salem-News.com
Many amazing waves were ridden...
(GIG HARBOR, Wash.) - I have just returned from Pichicuy, Chile where I met up with one of Chile's up and coming big wave underground chargers, Rafael Tapai who has recently been entered into the Billabong XXL Biggest Wave Awards for the wave he rode at Punta de Docas, Chile this past August.
Together we planned this last minute mission when we saw a solid 18'-20' swell on the charts and decided it was best to strike what might be the last big swell for the Southern Hemisphere season.
Upon my arrival to Santiago airport and after a 36-hour flight schedule from Seattle, WA I was shocked to find out that my board bag and wetsuits along with clothing and camera gear were all MIA thanks to AeroMexico! It was almost midnight and the swell was hitting in the morning, so Rafael and I decided to crash at his house in Santiago and get up at 4:00 a.m. to make the 2.5 hour drive to Pichicuy.
Needless to say I was really bummed because I was without my board, wetsuits, camera gear and clothes. I felt completely helpless and decided all I could do was to go with it, see how it all unfolds, and hope that all my gear comes the next day.
4:00 a.m. came in a blink of an eye and needless to say I was exhausted beyond all measures. Aeromexico did call while I was asleep to say that they found by surfboard bag and wetsuits but would not be able to deliver them to me at the coast until the end of the following day.
That was good and bad news!
Either way I would miss the first day of the big swell which was a solid 18'-20'. With a borrowed wetsuit, over sized booties and an undersized life vest, I towed Rafael into many bombs at Punta de Docas and while he invited me to borrow is tow-board, I knew better! His board was too light, straps too close together for my stance, and without my board and proper equipment added to the physical exhaustion I could not take the chance of getting my ass handed to me for any error which was guaranteed to occur.
So, I opted to tow and put Rafael on as many waves as he could handle in one session. Needless to say, we were by ourselves and with out a cameraman in the water.
Our morning session started around 7:30 a.m. and we got out of the water around 1:00 p.m. for a lunch break and to meet up with Chilean big wave chargers; Christobal Gonzales, Mondo Valenzeula and Sebastian Menichetti, who came to surf the swell that afternoon.
By 3:00 p.m. the swell was bombing and the south winds had come up, so the crew decided to tow Marmola which is a deep water reef in the bay outside of the Pichicuy's mini harbor.
Many amazing waves were ridden and again there was no photographer on this day to document from the channel how the session went down.
I witnessed first-hand what was going down and I can tell you that the beach break in front of Marmola was a solid 20' Puerto style and closing out top to bottom. From what I have been told it is only a few meters deep. Some scary sh*t!
The reef was all that in size and maybe some bigger rogue sets for sure! By the end of the first day everyone was super stoked to have gotten some big waves and shared some exciting moments.
That evening I went to bed very early with plans to get at least 10 hours of sleep so that I would be rested for the following day's session. The swell had peaked overnight so the following day was a touch smaller but still solid 15'-18' with perfect conditions.
The entire morning we surfed a new left hander up the coast that had never been surfed before and it was a great session. Right before the afternoon session began, a photographer by the name of Juan Luis de Heeckeren finally showed up and we mounted him up in a Kayak and towed him up to Marmola reef to shoot our session. It was not so easy for him as you might imagine being in a Kayak, but he did what he could. Unfortunately for me the photographer missed my biggest wave as he was dodging waves. Rafael stated that my wave was the biggest wave of that session for sure.
Feeling extremely exhausted after our session I began feeling not so good. That evening I ended up getting sick, got the flu and was in bed with a 102 fever for the following three days. When it was time to return home, I was very happy to do so but traveling while being sick is almost another war in itself!
I never got my suitcase with clothes and camera gear.
That’s the way it goes when traveling abroad. Luckily I have some good personal property insurance to cover the loss. It is just such a hassle with all the paper work involved. You learn to take the good with the bad when traveling and chasing big swells. It is what it is and you can only hope for the best.
My 2010 Southern Hemisphere big wave search is over for the season and now I will continue my big wave search in remote parts of Washington, Oregon, California, Mexico, Hawaii and hopefully for the first time I will be chasing swells in Europe when the opportunity presents itself!
See more photos here: Towsurfer.com
"Keep the Dream Alive!"
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