Belharra: Foiling Giant Waves on the Basque Coast

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Belharra, a relatively little known surf spot on the Basque coast, only comes to life under certain conditions. This sleeping giant has become a recent addition on the big wave circuit for many big wave riders due to its tow-in potential and size.

Watch the power of avalanching surf in this video by F-ONE as team riders chase the dream at Belharra on a memorable day of foil surfing the rolling mountain in France’s Pyrenees-Atlantiques region.

Belharra Awakens:  Foil the Beast

Belharra, literally meaning “seagrass” or “seaweed” in the Basque language, is a recent discovery for the big wave surfing world. Fickle in nature and needing a specific swell to fire properly, Belharra is often off the radar. However, it is a predominantly a tow-in wave when breaking properly. The ocean avalanche of Belharra went mainstream in 2013 when Gautier Garanx won the XXL Biggest Wave of the Year surfing this giant ledge. It continued a climb into notoriety in 2014 when surf giant Jamie Mitchell wiped out at Belharra on one of the biggest paddle waves ever attempted. Now, there’s no turning back.

Belharra is a reef off the coast of Saint-Jean-de-Luz in the Northern Basque Country of France. It is a favorite surf spot to many coastal Europeans seeking larger swells. In the region of Pyrenees-Atlantiques, this violent wave is known for swallowing ships moored at Socoa before the construction of the jetty now forming the shoal. This video, produced by F-ONE, showcases the swell giant of Belharra ridden by some of France’s big wave riders as they foil the same swell that became Nazare’s greatest day on earth.

F-ONE Team Riders: Titouan Galea, Tom Constant
F-ONE Equipment:  F-ONE Carbon mast, F-ONE Carbon Escape 530
Film Makers: Olivier Sautet, Pierre Frechou
Support: Peyo Lizarazu, Matthieu Aguirre

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Evelyn O'Doherty, editor & publisher of the new Standup Journal 2.0 is a former school teacher gone rogue. She left her career as a teacher in order to spend more time near or on the water after learning to surf turned her life around (upsidedown?). She is a year-round surfer and paddler living on the eastern tip of Long Island in NY who is a certified SUP instructor, seasoned SUP racer and avid longboard surfer. Evelyn was hired as Online Editor to Standup Journal in 2016. Her passion for the project quickly led to her success and eventually taking over the mag herself in Oct. 2018. Today, as editor, publisher and chief bottle washer at Standup Journal, Evelyn keeps her toes wet writing, traveling, paddling, surfing, and learning to foil. You can find her most days paddling out on Gardiner's Bay or surfing Ditch Plains in Montauk, NY.