Swimming in the sea is one of life's great pleasures. I've banged on about the joys of bodysurfing and the benefits of negative ions on here before (No Surfboard? No Problem, and Negative Ions = Positive Humans), but bear with me. I was fortunate enough to hitch a ride down to Hossegor back in September and, as usual, I stuck a handplane and swim fins in my bag.
We pulled into Hossegor late in the day, with about an hour of light left. By the time we'd sorted the keys for our accomodation and parked the car, it was already starting to get dark. No time to unpack boardbags, screw in fins and rummage around for a leash; wetsuit on, handplane and fins out and in we got. Half an hour of getting properly whomped in the shorebreak at La Graviere was plenty to wash off the feeling of having been sat in a car for almost twelve hours, and a good introduction to the new swell starting to fill in.
Now let's be clear, when given a choice, I choose to surf. Bodysurfing is just another way that I enjoy the ocean, and the fact that it's not my main aquatic focus was bought sharply into focus the following morning when I discovered that there was a bodysurfing contest taking place right where we'd been swimming around the evening before. Some of France's best torpedo-men were swimming themselves into the heaving shorebreak, throwing themselves headfirst over the ledge in a suicidal search for judges points. The waves were un-surfable here; overhead and with thick lips, detonating into little more than waist deep water. These guys were revelling in it though.
Every evening for the next two weeks, having spent the day surfing and driving the coast searching for good sandbanks, we'd get back and jump in at La Grav for a bodysurf. Not with the intention of filling our wetsuits with sand ready for the following day, but to actually swim in the sea, engaging every limb and immersing ourselves fully in the Atlantic rather than floating on it. An aquatic cool-down.
The bodysurfer on the right, under the lip, is rolling down the face before trying to get barrelled. Skills.
The judges truck, with a rare make-able left in the background.
All images and the short movie by Mat Arney.
Handplane featured is the "Hand Baggage" model produced by Otter Surfboards. Check them out here.
As usual, please take care when bodysurfing. Be aware of your limitations and protect your head and neck. Getting drilled head-first into the sand in shallow water can have awful consequences so exercise caution.