20 November 2009

Going Right at a Famous Left (Raglan)

While I'd been warned that spring is the wrong time of year for surfing Raglan, I couldn't visit New Zealand without at least seeing one of the world's longest left point breaks. And who knows, I might get lucky with a freak out-of-season swell.

But I didn't get lucky. Farthest from town, Whale Bay had no one out and was barely breaking, although I could see its potential.

Manu Bay had a competitive little pack on the single peak, a small but fun-looking left perhaps better sampled in the relative solitude of dawn patrol the next day.

So I returned to the dumping, windblown beach break of Ngarunui. The water was colder than I expected and I had to hike back up the hill to add gloves and a hood to my 3/2 wetsuit with booties.

Aside from the breeze, that afternoon the break was a beginner's paradise, with walls of short-period whitewater ambling toward a wide and gently-sloped dark gray beach. Farther out, there was a more promising peak suitable for the fish. Duck-diving my way to it was tiring, though good practice in somewhat warmer water.

This being New Zealand, it soon started to rain. I got one short ride - ha, it was a right - so at least I can say I've surfed Raglan.

In the morning, looking forward to having the Manu Bay peak more to myself, we headed out to the beach under clouds again threatening rain. I had to shoo a flock of half-grown ducklings out of the driveway so our car could leave the grounds of the eco-lodge. Alas, the swell had dropped some and dawn patrol coincided with low tide, which was not at all right for the left point breaks. In a place where high tide is 10 feet, the drop to 2 feet makes a big difference. Manu Bay would have been perfect, with overhead peeling barrels, had I been a mouse. There was even less going on at Whale Bay than the previous afternoon, and the Ngarunui beach break wasn't working either. Sigh. I hope Oz brings me more surf joy.

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