Surfing Week No 41 - Hurricane Approaching Crete
Surfing lessons from 11 - 17 October 2021 On Monday we had the last super sunny day in Crete for a while as this current week is all about the approaching hurricane - or cyclone. It brings clouds and rainy weather. Storm and big swells, and of course ever changing wind directions and weather forecasts. We are expecting the cyclone to hit western Crete the strongest on Friday before it moves on along the North Coast towards the east. But of course we can feel it already in the beginning of the week.
On Tuesday, 12 October 2021 the waves were still good for surfing. The weather itself challenging. Throughout the morning course we started with sunshine, then clouds and rain, then sun again followed by a biblical downpour by the time we were wrapping up the lesson. During the afternoon course the rain slowly stopped and the clouds made way to some evening sunshine.
In the morning surf lesson, we started with a warm up, explanations on safety and communication and the first exercises. Catching wave with pushing & jumping, and riding either in the prawn position or while popping up. After the first half of the lesson, Andy introduced the pop-up and to the others the turn and stalling & trimming - important for prolonging your ride.
In the afternoon the more experienced surfers went to the "secret" Kalo Surf reef break as the waves on the beach were only getting bigger and bigger. The waves were nicely formed and around shoulder to overhead high.
Before heading in the water, Andy explained safety and how the bay works. Then he covered a long list of intermediate surf topics: paddling, popping up, stalling & trimming, rotating into the turn. Then in the water Andy helped with choice of wave and positioning, in fact he made sure to stay on the peak at all times, so that the participants could rotate and come back to the peak to catch the wave. They had great long rides and some were attempting the turn.
On Wednesday, 13 October the sun was shining in Falassarna throughout the whole time of the course - while heavy clouds where hanging on the peninsulas of Balos and Rodopou 10 and 20 km far away, respectively. You just never know. The waves were a waist to head high with smaller and bigger sets. In the first half of the lesson everyone practiced in the whitewater: catching waves on their own, popping up on the surfboard, stalling & trimming and the turn. On the second half of the course we showed paddling techniques and paddled out together attempting to catch green waves and making turns. Andy helped - as always - with choice of waves and positioning in the water in order to get early into the wave and have long rides. Daniel made front side turns, Johanna tried the back side turn, Hanna tried the front side turn at least twice and Rina had a crazy wipe-out followed by catching a very big wave right after. Talking about getting back on the horse!!! Great vibes today, great surfing experience.
On Thursday, 14 October we met again on Falassarna Beach early in the morning. Today is supposedly the day before the big storm. So we took the opportunity to surf with our first time surfers before things get crazy on Friday! Our participants learned everything about safety and board handling in German this time. In the water they learned how to catch waves on their own and how to position their bodies on the surfboard. This is the most important part at this stage of learning. Making sure to take the energy of the wave with you and not sinking the board. In the second half the learned popping up on the surfboard. This worked out for Nevio right away. If it does not happen to you on the first day, no need to worry. There is plenty of time to practice and once the movements go over in flesh and blood, it just happens automatically.... And then we move on to new things to learn ;)
On Friday we decided to cancel all surfing endeavors. Even though the prediction of the course of the hurricane, now named Ballos, has changed in the meantime, it seemed too risky to be out and about with possible pouring rain, flooding or landslides. Schools in the region of Athens, Peloponnese and Euboea remained closed for the same fear. Luckily there were no major disruptions in Greece or Crete. This is quite an unusual October for us. As experts say, we have to live with more and more extreme weather phenomena.
On Saturday, 16 October the next surfing lesson took place on the west coast with big waves created by Ballos. When the beach break is messy and over sized, the point break of our still "secret" reef surf spot is the safest option. The period was big, making the waves powerful. With dry and sunny weather the surf coach explained everything about the reef circle - paddling out in the channel, paddling sideways to the peak, surfing the wave and paddling sideways back to the channel. Never fight against the wave. After all the theory and the warm up can a biblical downpour and we waited it out in the car. After the rain the wind stopped fully and we decided that we are tough as Spartans and went surfing! We had 9 foot high, spilling waves with a lot of power. Surfing on a point break allows us to easier find the peak, attempt to paddle into waves on our own, and have longer rides.
On Sunday, 17 October the size of the wave did not drop drastically, but they were better organised and less messy. So the beach break was a good option for whitewater surfing. Long thick whitewater lines are ideal for beginner surfers to surf many many waves in one session and repeat the movement patterns over and over again for a faster progress. The course started with theory and a warm up. In the water the participants practiced catching waves with pushing & jumping and popping up on the surfboard. In the second half Andy introduced stalling & trimming and the motion of the turn for those who felt ready for the next skill. Because the sun was shining beautifully on this afternoon in Falassarna, we ended the session by taking a couple of pictures for everyone to remember.