The Story Of A Giant Paddle Session In The Canaries

Basque surfers set their sights on one of the islands rarest beasts- La Santa.

Tuesday saw a massive swell arrive in Lanzarote and with favourable winds forecast a crew of local chargers and visiting Basque surfers set their sights on one of the islands rarest beasts- La Santa.

“I got the call early from Lewis Leadbetter saying that the right was huge” recounts Cornish expat and full time resident on the isle Josh Braddock. “He told me Natxo (Gonzalez) and a couple of the Basque boys were getting their boards ready to jump in. When I got there I didn’t even look at it for 5 minutes and I realised it was on.”

Big Waves Lanzarote

Photo by Sven Grossenbacher of MediaFish Web Design & Photography

“Once out the back we could see these huge barrels and all the boys were frothing. We’ve surfed it big before but not quite that size.” After a few hours of trading bombs with the assembled crew of locals and visiting Basque chargers, Josh got caught inside on a big one and snapped his board, so decided to make his way to the shoulder to watch a couple waves.

“The boys had said they would help me with the paddle in, which is about 2km from the peak, but after being there for about 15 minutes I decided to gradually make my way in” continues Josh. “After a few minutes I can hear loads of shouting and whistling I turn around and see this +25ft wave just rolling in through the line up with a few more behind it, I could see a couple boys scratch over it. That set caught all but 3 surfers in the line up, there were chunks of boards everywhere. I had to keep making my way to the harbour as the current was trying to sweep me out to sea but I kept turning around to see if everyone was okay. After 15 minutes we’d managed to get everyone out.”

After the boys caught their breath, they began telling each other the stories of how they’d made it back to dry land:

“Manuel (Lezcano) got held down for 2 waves and had to pull his life vest, he came up after a minute and a half vomiting and could barely paddle. He came up next to Lewis Leadbetter who had taken off on the first wave of the set and free fell top to bottom. They were both in the worst possible place, right on the slab which is located to the left of the bay. Lewis tried to calm Manuel down but they were in knee deep water with 8ft bombs landing on them, Lewis took his leash of and let himself get smashed up over the ledge and onto dry rocks while Manuel managed to paddle around the bay after taking a few more in the head. Lewis came out with a cut up feet and a badly battered leg. Natxo and the basque guys managed to paddle out of the bay and over to the harbour where all the locals and spectators where sat. All in all we came out okay, after the shock had worn off we sat around and laughed it off. We have all agreed to invest in a jetski for water safety, as we felt that if there had been one or more waves in that set we would be telling a completely different story.”

Big props to local crew Lewis Leadbetter, Yeray Garcia, Manuel Lezcano, Nagai Puntivedra, Monchi, Jaime pombo, Antonio Marquez & visiting Basque surfers Naxto Gonzalez, Zumo for making sure everyone got out safe. “If they weren’t as experienced as they are” summarised Josh “things could of ended badly.”

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Cover Photo Andrea Caminati