The Smell Of Pine Sap And The Sea Breeze

13 . 08 . 16

Last September Mat headed down to the southwest corner of France for a few weeks with his friends from Surf Simply. Because September and October are the height of the rainy season in Costa Rica, where Surf Simply have their luxury surf coaching resort, they shut up shop for a month and several of their coaches run a satellite coaching project on the French coast. Mat joined them as the project’s photographer, swimming in the beachbreaks around Hossegor capturing Surf Simply’s guests surfing some of the best waves in Europe whilst benefiting from some of the finest surf coaching in the world. It wasn’t all work and no play for the team though, as they had a few days to settle in before guests arrived as well as a changeover weekend and some time at the end of the project when there were no guests to look after and the guys could catch a few waves for themselves. Mat took our 5’10” Fetch Fish down to Hossegor, however one of the Surf Simply coaches took a liking to it and Mat took the opportunity to capture a few photos. Here’s his account of the couple of sessions that produced these images:

I’ve worked with Asher a couple of times now; like all of the Surf Simply coaches he’s a really accomplished, knowledgeable and very inquisitive surfer. He grew up in Florida, mostly riding traditional longboards without a leash but is equally at home on a modern shortboard or in significant and challenging surf. We had one really big swell hit Hossegor during our time there, over the changeover weekend in between different sets of guests, and we had to “tag-team” our three biggest boards between the six of us (we had twelve boards at the staff house, but only three of them were over 6’1” and the Fetch, with it’s twin keel fins, wasn’t really designed for double overhead barreling beach breaks!). I watched Asher ride a couple of absolute bombs on that Saturday morning.

For much of the rest of our time there, though, the surf was really small, fun and playful, which was great for the guests and the coaches. We were able to grab a couple of really early morning or late evening surfs to ourselves though, and had several trips to sand banks further north up the seemingly endless beach that is the Landes coast when the project was all wrapped up. We’d drive out of town through miles and miles of regimented pine tree plantations until the pin on the sat-nav told us which particular sandy track through the forest was the one that we had to turn down. We’d bounce along that until coming to a clearing where we could park up, and then walk up and over the sand dunes to get a look at the surf.

I decided to shoot photos on a couple of occasions because it seemed like too good an opportunity to capture a really smooth, stylish small-wave surfer on the fish. Asher has an uncanny ability to find the little pockets of speed on even the smallest and weakest of waves (something that I guess most Floridian surfers develop at an early stage), and he repeatedly laid down smooth carve after smooth carve before bouncing off the end section in the shallows. I didn’t see him pump the Fetch once, just flow from turn to turn as he sped down the line.

Talking to him later that evening, Asher admitted that he’d not been quite sure what to expect from a wooden fish, but that he’d presumed it would be a bit heavy and that in actual fact it wasn’t as heavy as he’d expected and that the extra heft just seemed to help it flow down the line. It was great to see how much he’d enjoyed not just surfing a wooden board, but carrying, paddling and sitting on one. We both agreed that for those sunny sessions in France with nobody else for miles around save a few good friends, and the beach and countless peaks stretching away to the horizon in either direction, a wooden surfboard seemed like the perfect tool for the task.

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