Ah, finalement! I knew all along that Île de Ré is not surfer’s paradise, yet I had hoped for the best. As this island is a bit like the French version of Sylt, it is more about wind surfing than about wave surfing. Still, I am willing to bite my way through any obstacles until I get there.
First, I approach the catamaran / wind surf location close to my beach at La Couarde. I learn that surfable waves are available in winter time only… June may not be appropriate, then.
Next, I go to the village called “Le Bois Plage”. Internet research has detected a surf school, and when a French site is all about “surf”, then it is about waves. It is all a bit of a flexible scene here, depending on tide and timing, with no such thing as a building to address to – but in the end, I find a cabane at the far end of the beach, opened for some hours each day, and I manage to rent a board for an hour.
Three years have gone by since my last time on a surfboard – and I am the happiest person on the beach when already the third trial works out. I am up on the whitewash, pushed by nothing else than the ocean’s water. I keep to what I know best (broken waves) and work hard for about 45 minutes. In the end, I may not be “queen of the whitewash” again, but close.
When I give back the board, I make sure to be listed among the handful of people up for surf lessons the very next day, all but secretely aiming for surfing au large = in the open.
The next day comes with a bit of nervousness. 90 minutes surfing, now, really? At my age?? Not sure at all, but at least I will give it a try.
When they put one of their smallest boards in my hands, I feel like a real surf pro for about a minute or two. The smaller, the better – once, you learn how to control it, that is. It turns out that most of the others are even more impressed by the challenges of today’s lessons. I take advantage of all I have learned (thanks to Vincent/Vieux Bouceau), and within 15 minutes, I manage to ride my first “vague lisse” = wave at it’s breaking point.
Oh, what delicate feeling, when the upper half of the board is right in the air and the wave pushes gently from behind! Conditions are perfect for beginner’s luck, I’d say, but anyway, I am flashed by the enhanced experience. From now on, I forget about the whitewash and only go for the open!
Being well aware that bigger waves, deeper water or any other change in conditions will put me to the test any other day – still, I am entirely fascinated and more than willing to move on with surfing whenever I can!