The Stormrider Surf Guide - North Sea Nations (The Stormrider Surf Guides)
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Since then, brave locals and visitors have ventured into the shallow, hard-breaking line-ups like El Gringo and have paddled or towed into the outside bombs of El Buey. When the pro circus arrived in , even the world's best struggled to tame the tubes, so this is definitely not a zone for beginners. It is super-consistent for swell and light winds so late summer may be the ideal time to visit this city of eternal spring in the world's driest desert, the Atacama.
It's advantageous to be located in the north of the country to avoid being pounded by constant storms. Breaking waves vary between ft m year round. Some of the spots will break even better with the occasional summer NW swells between November and March.
Mornings are typically windless, then light offshores pick up till noon when gentle S sea breezes create a little chop on the wave face. Some spots are really wind sensitive and are only surfed in the morning. Tidal range never exceeds 6ft 2m , but is relevant for the shallow Alacran reefs.
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It's a fast wave too, pushing surfers to go for broke and score a great barrel or get slammed on the reef. The left is the real deal with compression tubes and a more predictable rate of speed and openness, once the lurching air-drop has been negotiated. Paddling out to the left is fraught with nose-crunching duck dives and currents that can hold you in the impact zone for an eternity.
Meanwhile, the symmetry-balancing right holds a bigger SW swell and throws wide before triangulating the wall into deeper water that provides a far safer paddling channel back to the peak. Tide is dependant on size, as it is usually the small swells that lure victims onto the barely watered rocky platform.
If the description doesn't make it obvious this is an experts wave then the hazards may help. Ultra-shallow sharp reef studded with urchins and some barnacles, swept by currents and occasionally patrolled by aggressive sea-lions and the areas best surfers, who wont take any nonsense.
It's cold, foggy and generally a scary vibe unless you feel right at home in the maw of one of Chile's best waves. Crowds have increased since Rip Curl ran the Search in Even though it can break both ways, the left remains the better option, as it's always hollower than the right. The left will focus S-SSW swells into booming barrels, while the right will wall up anything with more W in it and offer roller coaster walls. The spot can hold 20ft 6m , but is quite wind sensitive. Breaks with medium consistency and is rarely-crowded over a large, shifting peak playing field.
Set dodging experience and big lungs required when it heads beyond the triple-overhead mark. Most of the waves along this coastline break close to the shore as cylindrical barrels slamming down hard onto shallow reefs full of urchins. It's often big and gnarly and many of the spots are more suitable for bodyboarders or the most skilled of surfers. Fortunately, there are channels, which enable safe paddle outs to most line-ups.
When looking at the waves from the shore it's easy to be deceived by the size, what appears to be 4ft 1. All these waves face the main coastal road, and when the swells are big, crowds are guaranteed to gather and watch the show. What beachbreaks there are, tend to be closed and blown-out unless the swell is small, which doesn't happen often in Chile!
With new extreme waves like La Bestia being discovered, this is another region for experienced riders only. Iquique is a big industrial and mining port so it's lively, day and night. Glassy mornings are common, especially in summer when wind speeds back off to mph most of the time and long period 20 second swells can arrive in the ft Most of the rights are very wind sensitive, since the SW-facing coastal angle is not ideal. Mid to high tide is the go for most spots, as a 1m 3ft drop in coverage from mid to low will expose many rocks.
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Conversely, some waves need the low tide to break far enough out and off the rocks. It's a thick, muscle-bound right that pumps up nicely as the swell increases and will handle up to the triple-overhead mark fairly effortlessly. Following the local trend for vertical drops into a draining barrel section, the difference here is it can keep spinning down the line for a good m.
Picture perfect in the sparkling morning glass, it is still a challenging prospect and lesser surfers should beware.
When To Go
Handles most tides through the size range and prefers the push, with high giving more room for error on the peak. Needs at least headhigh conditions to start breaking and just gets better from there. So crowds of rippers and bodyboarders will be on hand when it is firing, which is fairly often and travellers need to show respect to both the locals and the wave.