Thurso, 2005, with Andrew Cotton, Gabe Davies, George Watt and Chris Noble
The trouble with Thurso is it's actually quite tucked away. Although It faces west, it has a blocking headland and being on a coast that is generally northerly in orientation, it doesn't get the same strong south west and straight west swells that Ireland does. That said when a west/north west swell comes off a low sitting in the sweet spot south of Iceland, it can hold unlimited size. This rarely happens, but this pulse of two days, came pretty close.
I drove up with Andrew Cotton and his then filmed Anthony Butler, there were just making Andrew's first major big wave doco. Whilst we were not here for giants we were after a bit of size.
The Evening Before The Swell Filled In
Swells always have a tendency of being later up here than you ever expect. one because of the natural tendency of surfers to being way too impatient, and also thanks to the complexity of currents and swell shadows. The evening before was perfect, long period, big gaps, but small. When a set came it was a couple fo feet and Fraserbrough surfer George Watt was all over them.
The First Dawnie
The swell built overnight, and met a crisp cold offshore, it still wasn't big, but the period was there meaning it felt the reef properly and there were some beauties to be had.
Local Chris Noble has long been the standout tube rider at Thurso, and this day he ruled the sets, he just has a sixth sense for the right wave to take which comes with years of experience.
The light was incredible, rarely do you get such good conditions up here. These beautiful dawn shots are of Scott Rogerson, he is manager of Secret Spot Surf Shop down in Scarborough.
Cotty was naturally in the thick of the action, although not big in anyway by his standards he spent most of the morning driving through these 'smaller' than usual pits.
The morning session was pretty epic, just consistent head to double overhead sets pouring through until the tide got very low.
The tide then really bottomed out, it was really low, Thurso went fat and early afternoon we headed to Bagpipes. At this point in time baggies had been surfed by bodyboarders since the late eighties, but only a couple of years by surfers. Whilst these shots look incredible, and right now I would certainly be throwing surfers in to surf it, the tide and size was pretty mutant. Even with Andrew, Gabe and Chris at hand it was too easy to walk away from knowing Thurso was about to pump.
We looked at other waves, as the weather and darkness started to creep in.
Day two of the main pulse of swell was bombing, the light was horrendous, and it was bitterly cold, I can remember it was one of those dull winter days that just froze you to the core. The speed of the tidal movements were not ideal, but the size of the swell made for an interesting day, here are some highlights.
The zombie out in the bay rarely breaks, but the swell had some girth at low tide.
Gabe Davies on a solid one.
It was a solid swell, almost perfect, but as is often the case in Thurso, rarely does swell, wind and tidal conditions all come together. This was close, but the tides were massive.
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