JUSTINE DUPONT GOES XXL AT BELHARRA
Monday 28th October, 2013 (Hossegor France,)
Justine Dupont, 23, from Lacanau, rode a giant wave today at the famous big-wave spot of Belharra. The wave, measured at around 45 feet high is considered to be the biggest wave ever ridden by a female in Europe.
With a massive swell pounding the coasts of Europe today the big-wave spot of Belharra, a submerged reef that lies a mile offshore from Saint-Jean-de-Luz, sprang to life. The famous waves only breaks in the biggest of swells and a select band of big-wave surfers were on hand to tackle the huge waves.
Dupont along with Billabong Adventure Division members Benjamin Sanchis and François Liets traveled out to the wave just before sunrise. "I wasn't nervous, I felt confident," said Dupont. "I had complete trust in François driving and was looking forward to catching my first waves at Belharra."
"Justine really wanted it, there was no question about that," said Liets, who towed Dupont into the wave. "She is building experience and it's great to see her challenging herself in these conditions."
"I just wanted to make sure I had the strength to tackle these types of waves," said Dupont, who recently placed third in the World Longboard Championships in Peru. "When I looked up and saw how big the wave was, I just focused on making the drop. Now that I know I have the leg muscle strength to make these waves, I'm super committed to surfing bigger and better waves."
Sanchis, who won the Billabong XXL Biggest Wave Award at Belharra in 2011, attempted to paddle surf the wave, but a combination of strong winds and no other paddle surfers made it too difficult. His first wave, ridden with jetski assistance, was one of the biggest of the day.
"Winter has started with a real bang," said Liets. "And now we all are primed and waiting for the best and biggest waves." Dupont is training hard and waiting for more chances in France before she travels to compete in China in November. "I have had a taste, and I want more. But I know I have to take it slow. I am still learning and experience is the key in surfing these waves."
Question and Answer with Justine Dupont:
Were you nervous traveling out to Belharra in the dark this morning?
Not really, I felt confident and just really wanted to catch and make a few waves.
Had you surfed Belharra before?
No, we had been out to check it out last winter, but I didn't actually catch any, so I was just really happy to catch a few waves.
Did you fall on any waves out there?
Yes on my first wave I fell. The straps were a bit loose for my feet, so I was a bit unsteady, and it was bumpy, so I came off.
What's that like?
Well I had an inflatable vest on, so I felt safe, plus with Francois Liets driving the ski I knew I was okay. I didn't panic or anything.
What were you thinking when you looked up and saw that massive wall on your last one?
When I looked over my shoulder and saw how big it was, I just thought about making the drop. I wasn't really sure if I would have the muscle strength in my legs to make it. We aren't as strong as the men, so once I made it, I felt more confident that I had the strength to ride waves as big as these.
Have you been training specifically for big waves?
Not really, I am keeping fit and working in the pool, but as I am competing in shortboards and longboards, you just can't focus on one aspect.
Did you see the massive waves ridden in Nazare today as well? Is that something you would consider?
I did, but I have complete faith in Francois and where he thinks the best waves are for me. I am still learning and have to make sure I don't take things to fast. There is maybe time for that later if I am ready and prepared. But hopefully I'd love to ride some waves that big.
I am staying in France and waiting for more swells with the Billabong Adventure Division. Hopefully we get the chance for Belharra again. Then later next month I have a week in Hawaii before traveling to compete in China.