mascaret : pororoca : severn : turnagain

SURFING THE MASCARET
Mascaret surfing began in the late 70's when pioneering kayakers explored the waves along the Garonne between Cambes and Cadillac. It was only when the wave became crowded, that the kayakers moved north and discovered the quaint Port St Pardon sitting along a two mile straight of the Dordogne.
Then, in 1990, Jean-Francois Lalle became the first to ride a surfboard at St Pardon. Since then the number of surfers and kyakers has grown immensely. Although there is only a small group of regular surfers seen on the river throughout late summer and autumn.

High media exposure has drawn increasing numbers of kayaks, canoes, motorboats and even jet-ski's to St Pardon, which now grossly outnumber the surfers. With as many as a hundred people in the water, locals have again started looking further afield for surfable waves on the Garonne.
At St Pardon the head wave can reach four foot over a 4km course, generally breaking out from the tree-lined west bank. As many as ten of the trailing waves are also surfable over considerable distance, and sometimes break larger than the head wave. Waves in excess of four feet have been reported on the Garonne river beyond Arcins island, although these spots are highly secret locals-only breaks.
The tide forecasts are represented by a coefficient - a ratio against the highest possible tide. The mascaret is at its finest in early Autumn when the freshwater levels are low and the coefficient of the tide is high (anything over 85 is surfable).
'Upto 100 kayakers, wave-skiers and longboarders will try to ride the wave on a fine August or September day.
Half of them miss it because they are out of position, too slow or riding unsuitable boards.
The other half join an incredible human chain of surfers for the ride of their lives.'

Alan Barber/Anthony Colas, Carve Longboard Special, June 2002
Mascaret Image, Courtesy Bruno Boue