Welcome to the Long Point Tutorial crew. It’s been a dry and hot summer down here at the Point, the waters warm and the waves are pretty mellow in the summer, so its a great place to learn. You don’t have to complete the Tutorial, but if you do, then you can learn at your own pace. So you can do any lesson you want, when you want. After you complete a particular level and you want to just practice, you can do that as well.
LEVEL TUTORIAL LOCATION LONG POINT, SOUTHERN VICTORIA TERRAIN
BEACH, BEACH BREAK WEATHER 38°C LAT/LONG 38°45' 58"S 143° 23'09"E EVENT STATUS TUTORIAL
The Ledge Rock is a pretty heavy setup. The Ledge Rock holds massive swells and most of the year it’s simply too big to surf and the water is freezing. But in the warmer summer months, the swell settles down and it’s just warm enough to get out there and surf. It’s a good wave and its almost a hotdog wave when it’s smaller. When it’s on, you need to negotiate a series of heavy barrel sections on the wave that can dish out a merciless beating for those who are little too casual. Ledge also features a towering cliff face and a heavy set of rocks on the inside that can be pretty intimidating for even the most experienced of surfers.
LEVEL LEDGE ROCK LOCATION SCOTLAND TERRAIN
ROCKY LEDGE ISLAND, DEEP WATER OCEAN BREAK CLIMATE COLD TO ARCTIC CONDITIONS LAT/LONG N 56° 58' 8 W 2° 6' 33
EVENT STATUS QUALIFYING TOUR
Forsaken Gully is a phenomenal River bore that discharges into the Gulf of California. The bore is formed in the river mouth and the head-wave can reach almost 20 feet. The tidal bore pounds it’s way along the river bed destroying everything in it’s path. According to longtime residents of the region, its rumble could be heard for miles around and in the wettest of years, the locals wait in anxious anticipation for the really large bores to form at the head of the river, readying themselves for it’s annual path of destruction.
LEVEL FORSAKEN GULLY LOCATION GULF OF CALIFORNIA TERRAIN
SALT, FLOODPLAIN CLIMATE DRY, HOT LAT/LONG 32' 00N 114' 50W EVENT STATUS QUALIFYING TOUR
By John Paddy:
Forsaken Gully is located on the Colorado River on the border of the US and Mexico. The land is harsh, dry and the wave is infuriatingly fickle; the Gully is one of those legends that promises much but alas, seldom delivers. It’s in the middle of nowhere and it’s a long way to travel on the promise of waves that might not actually show up. But, not this year. Pro surfer Sean James, photographer Mark Schalberg and I take a trip down south to capture what few have managed to score themselves – epic Forsaken.
The river discharges into the Gulf of California. The bore forms in the river mouth around Montague Island and travelled as far as El Mayor. When it’s on, it’s a really on and the head-wave can reach almost 20 feet, providing surfers with an incredible ride for 25kms or more, depending on the conditions. The wave features sections with deep barrels, floater sections, great cutback sections – it’s really a dream wave and it’s everything a surfer could want.
Separated from the Pacific Ocean by the mountainous peninsula of Baja California lies the long, narrow basin of the Gulf of California. The east shore is bordered by a narrow coastal plain backed by the Sierra Occidental of Mexico. From Cape San Lucasto the Colorado Delta, the Gulf is 600 miles long: throughout this length the body of water averages less than 100 miles in width – so there’s a lot of water. The northern region of this finger-like body of water, particularly the delta and area north of San Felipe, is the area where the bore begins to form. We had spent the past few months studying the tide and moon charts and we knew that if our research proved right, we’d score pretty big. With a tidal bore, it’s different. You don’t study the swell and wind charts as you do with ocean waves, it’s all about the moon and tide. The composite tidal range increases gradually from the Gulf entrance to Isla Tiburon, and then rapidly to the mouth of the Colorado. The latter experiences a spring tidal range of 10 meters, an average range of 7 meters, and a neap range of 2 meters. During periods of high range, tidal waves 1.5 to 3 meters high move up the Colorado River intensifying in mass and motion resulting from the river’s narrow channels but occasionally, it gets much, much bigger. Immense pressure is therefore built up in the distributaries of the Rio Colorado and an immense wall of tidal water races upstream causing the river to reverse its flow resulting in a tidal bore. You don’t need a science degree, but you do need to be pretty much on to it in order to catch the wave.
We decided to drive down to the Gulf on a typically hot, dry and somewhat dusty morning that locals in San Diego know only too well. The hire car air-conditioning decided to blow a fuse so it felt like a longer drive than usual before we hit the Interstate 8 desert-scape on the way down to San Felipe. Despite the air-conditioning dying, the trip was largely uneventful as we passed El Centro and then headed south before crossing the border into Mexicali. Two hours later we hit San Felipe.
It was late afternoon when we hooked up with local Jet Ski operator Mark Thompson, who we’d worked with 3 years earlier. We had tried and failed to catch this best of this elusive beast before, but we felt confident because this year the conditions looked really good. As a long time local, it was encouraging to see Mark also felt good about this years forecast conditions and so far there had been a few of the local crew who had scored waves earlier in the month. We usually stay at the Red Lobster motel and the mood was one of cautious optimism as we sat down to dinner to plan the next day over a few beers and some beautifully cooked local seafood. We knew that the bore would arrive at around 1pm the next day, so we discussed the positions we’d take on the river mouth and some of the methods we’d utilize to best time the release from jet-ski to the wave itself. Our plan on that front was pretty sound, we’d practiced a fair bit over the summer but the one thing we weren’t sure of was how big the wave was going to be. Promise and reality – especially with a tidal bore are two different things. This made board choice imperative. We wanted the speed to make it through some of the trickier sections of the wave, particularly if it was going to be big. We also wanted looseness in the boards in case it wasn’t that big after all, as it’s not all that much fun riding a gun that you can’t turn. So there were some decisions we still needed to make as there wasn’t simply enough room on the back of the sled for more than 2 boards. The waves weren’t due till 1pm the next day, so we still had a bit of time to figure it out after a good night’s sleep.
The morning brought with it a fairly sticky and overcast day and we had a bumpy 4 hour drive ahead from San Felipe to the river mouth off Montague Island. The ride, thankfully, was uneventful this time. Three years earlier we’d broken down in near the swamp marsh area in hot, hellish conditions with no help at hand for 6 hours. Not fun. Luckily, we still had enough time then to make it to the waves, but as the waves that year were on the small side it really made the whole trip one to forget. Signs were good then when this year we turned up in one piece and we arrived with an hour to spare and a fast moving tide. The wind was slightly side-shore but swirling with news that it would drop entirely as the afternoon progressed.
We pulled up to the launch area and pulled the ski off the trailer into the water over the mud. The delta soil is rich and the land is essentially dead flat with a slope of less than five feet per kilometre. Along with a support dinghy with the camera equipment, we slowly made our way out toward the take off area. Mark ” T”jumped on the ski, while Sean, Mark and I piled into the dinghy. Typically in this part of the world, there was not a soul about bar the wildlife. But on that front, it was busy. Cardinals, Gila Woodpeckers, Ravens, and Verdin made a screaming racket over the water surface while the afternoon sun started to generate some real heat. So the sun cream, hats and glasses were out in force as we started to pickup speed in the dinghy as Mark zigzagged his was in front of us. It felt like the wind was dropping as forecast, but it was a little deceiving as we motored along over the bumpy surface. While the wind dropped, the tide did the opposite and it was evident that it was running quite strongly now giving us due warning that the bore wasn’t far away. Then it came.
The sound of a tidal bore approaching is like nothing else you’ve ever heard. It’s a vicious rumbling groan that feels like a mini earthquake. It really is a very freaky experience. This year, the bore was bigger and much cleaner that we’d had in a long time. Mark T and Sean sped out to meet the wave they’d practiced many times before Sean jumped off the back of the ski and began paddling hard in order to put him in the most optimal position. Mark came back to pick me up and we headed out next. Tidal bores tend to stack up very closely together and we could see all 7 waves of approximately the same 5 metre height at once. The bore broke from end to end with a force to be reckoned with, smashing the sand away from the bank with violent ferocity – birds scattering in the process. The physics of a tidal bore – at least from a surfing perspective feel very different to a normal ocean wave. There is a lot of pull or forces at the bottom of the wave so you’ve really got to push hard off the bottom initially to get the momentum. This force also makes duck-diving difficult and depending on the size of the bore, possibly quite dangerous as along with the sheer downward pressure of the force a lot of the time you can’t see what is lurking beneath the rivers surface. Most of everything else is the same though – you’ve still got to pick your waves so it was no surprise then when Sean opted to duck-dive the first wave in the set and pick out the second one as it looked bigger and cleaner. We all held our collective breath when he did this and Mark was ready to race in and pick him up if anything when wrong, but he’s a pretty strong surfer and he managed to squeeze in a late drop on the second wave. It was this second wave that made this trip and the previous years frustrations worth it. Mark pulled me into position and as I paddled into this beast as well – plenty of room so it took the two of us on easily. The sheer power in the wave at takeoff was both appalling and exhilarating at the same time: appalling because a big tidal bore has a frightening power that you would not expect; but exhilarating in the sheer sensory overload of racing falling sections of a big wave while taking in the scenery of the banks of a river. This is a wave that not only runs for 25kms, that’s right – 25kms – but it has all the features of a great ocean wave when it’s on. Barrels and cut back sections, big pockets to whack…everything. As you can see from the photos, Forsaken is the surfers dream wave there’s no doubt. It takes, time, money and patience to get there but as a once in a lifetime trip it’s worth every effort.