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Surfing in Hurricane Season? Give me a Break!

There’s nothing Ben Findlay and his friends like better than a tropical storm, and if it comes with huge seas and10ft waves all the better!

Yep, St Lucia’s surfers, there’s around 20 of them, surf April to November enjoying the best/worst of Mother Nature during hurricane season.

Originally from New Zealand, Ben’s been on the crest of a wave, so to speak, for the past 22 years. When he’s not surfing, he skippers a 55ft sailboat around the Caribbean. I know, I know, some guys have all the luck!

“Hurricane Isobel back in 2003 made for some excellent surfing,” said Ben, “6 to 7ft waves and hardly anyone in the water!”

Surprise, surprise!

According to Ben, there’s a sort of surfing etiquette between its practitioners. If you thought it’s just a case of paddling out, jumping on the trusty board and waving at the crowds as you glide back to the beach you’d be wrong — and talked about.

“Around the Corramandel (that’s in New Zealand) it’s usual for surfers to shout ‘my wave, my wave,’ to claim the wave. It’s less competitive in St Lucia. ‘You want it man? Go for it,’ is how it’s done around here,” smiled Ben.

“The surfing down here is so good because it’s still a secret,” said Ben.

Well, not any more it’s not.

Regular surfing spots are treasured, they’re also called ‘breaks’ and finding them isn’t easy. But we’ll let you in on a few of surfing’s secrets.

St Lucia’s west coast is high on local surfing’s list (not much wind on the east coast) as are Windjammer, Marigot and Viji. The stretch between Windjammer and Viji — The Areas as it’s known — has good breaks throughout the season and is always popular.

There’s also the young pretender to traditional surfing, kite surfing, which is catching on fast around sandy beach.

I must admit that as someone who has only witnessed kite surfing from a beach bar or armchair I have to admire the recent record breaking feat of Kirsty Jones. She crossed the Irish Sea — using a kite — in a time of just 5 hours, only slightly longer than the ferry takes!

But the last word belongs to Ben: “We’re in the water, waiting for a break off Cannaries when the local children decided they’d like join in. Making surfboards from derelict wooden houses, and tying their underpants on top of their heads they duly paddled out.

“Up came the break when one of the kids (he’d obviously been listening to us) shouted: ‘mistah, mistah dat my wave!’ and I remember thinking ‘it’s getting more like New Zealand every day!’”

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