Best Swell of the last Quinquennial
Heavily out of breath all ready, I run towards the beach. My favorite shortboard under my arm, which I normally only bring on surfing trips abroad. The sun is yet to make his appearance but provides just enough light for me to see. All of the sudden, I stop. Is this real? Or am I still asleep in my car on the parking lot of my favorite beach in the Netherlands? I can’t believe what I am seeing. Perfect A-frames roll towards me. The wind is slightly offshore, and there’s no one out. This could be the best swell of the year. Heck, it’s maybe the best I’ve ever seen it in Wijk aan Zee. I am almost too exited to control myself. For the first time in a very long time, I feel nervous before my session. You probably know this feeling. The stoke is on!
A dot on the radar
It is flat for almost two weeks now. Apart from a few tiny softtop waves there has been nothing for days on end. Softtop waves are very small which you can only catch with the biggest softtop you can find. For those of you living in Australia, you must understand that if you say it’s flat, the Dutch are still frothing. So when we say flat, we mean a wind still lake. My surfing buddies and I keep ourselves busy with swimming among the jelly fish (not that harmful), and a paddle to the first or second buoy.
I am at the local surf shop when I get the first call. “Dude, you got to check the forecast for next Saturday!”. I do, and to my surprise there’s a promising dot on the radar. A north westerly swell has popped up and it looks rather good. It comes with quite a bit of wind, but that’s what we’re used to in these flatlands. You’ll probably recognize what happens next. Over the next couple of days everybody is on it. They’re tracking the swell, talk about it, create their own theories, and hype the bloody thing so the whole world knows they should come and surf. Usually, it turns out to be hyped for nothing, but I feel this time might be different. This could be a very good one. The best swell in ages. I think we’ll remember this one for quite some time.
Sleep in my car I will
I too develop my own theory about the coming swell. One of my best friends celebrates his birthday the night before, and that annoys me. I like a good party, but I also like to get up at first light. Plus, the drive home is over an hour. And suddenly it hits me. Why don’t I just drive to Wijk aan Zee instead and sleep in my car? Wijk aan Zee, or known as ‘Wijkiki’ or simply as Wijk, is the first beach I surfed in the Netherlands, after learning to surf in Australia. I used to live in Amsterdam and then Wijk is your best bet. These days I surf in Scheveningen. I say I moved there for my girlfriend. I don’t say, I moved there because the surf is better, because that wouldn’t be a smart thing to say. Hope she doesn’t read this one.
The party is a success but as soon as it ends I race to my car and drive it to Wijk. My car is a family car from the outside but a surf car from the inside. This is a good thing because overnight sleeping is not allowed at Wijk. So I hide myself under a blanket and spoon with my boards till I suddenly wake up by the sound of my alarm. Is it time already? I don’t want to get up yet. Another car pulls up. Two guys get out and start pulling out their gear. This triggers me to get out of bed and suit up.
Best swell of the year
As I look at these wonderful empty waves I notice a big smile on my face. With the stoke in my body and a smile on my face, I continue the run to the beach and get in the water. I paddle out and keep making involuntary noises to greet the perfect waves just before I duck dive them. The swell has a seven second period, but that’s about the biggest it will ever get in the Netherlands. Normally though, it comes with shitloads of wind, but this time the wind died off and turned offshore. I am starting to think this is even the best swell of the year.
My first session lasts over three hours. I catch a lot of waves and it isn’t even that busy. This is because the swell is good along the whole coastline, all 451 kilometers of it. The vibe in the water is good. A lot better than expected on a Saturday with good waves. At my left I see the harbor wall. The best waves roll in here, but it’s also the most crowded spot. I move away a bit to catch more waves. It also gives me a beautiful view of some barreling waves. One surfer catches a set wave. The wave is well overhead. He bottom turns, stalls, and pulls straight into a barrel. He isn’t standing but he isn’t crouched either. After a second or two he pulls out and makes a massive snap. Wow!
Best swell of the quinquennial
I surf three more times this day. My arms feel like spaghetti, but I just can’t get enough. In between sessions, I eat, drink, and talk surf with all the other stoked surfers. I leave the water for the last time and the waves are still pumping. Having surfed so many waves today, I feel fine just looking at it for a while. A kids surf fest is underway and about 20 frothing gromms are having fun. For some it’s probably the best swell of their lives. Completely satisfied I fall asleep.
Over the next few days the pictures and videos start rolling in. Everybody talks about the swell. Did you surf? How many times? How long? Where did you go? All important questions. Some were unlucky and were sick (sorry Sev) and watched how it unfolded on the webcams. For those is it even becomes harder because everybody starts to agree that this probably was the best swell of the quinquennial. They don’t necessarily use that word, but I like how it sounds. A special word for a special swell. And now? Now it is flat again.
Be sure to check out this video
Production: Off the Richter
Film/Edit: Tim Padmos
Surfers: Yannick de Jager, Dominga Valdes, Kaspar Hamminga, and Robin Kersbergen