Seeking alternatives to the cold water and short weekends? Thinking about your next surf holiday ? Or merely looking for inspiration? Then look no further. We are in the middle of the Autumnal Equinox and that could only mean one thing: It’s that time when people start surfing tidal bores.
Tidal bores are natural phenomenon’s that occur when in few places around the globe on spring tides. There are approximately 60 tidal bores in the world. All range in wave height, frequency and distance. They reach up to 30ft in height, travel at speeds close to 25mph and run up river for hours– could you stay on a wave that long?
Surfing Tidal BoresSurfing tidal bores is no mean feat. Where a typical wave lasts seconds, catching a wave on a tidal bores can last hours – on the same wave running inland. Notwithstanding local hazards ranging from trees, logs, snakes, caimans and crocodiles. All of which blend in seamlessly with the muddy watered wave!!
How to surf a Tidal boreTidal bores occur during spring and flood tides in regions with large tidal ranges - where large bodies of water get compressed down narrow channels. Larger, more powerful waves are best accessed by Jet-Ski and surfed in groups – at your own risk!! For smaller waves, it’s a matter of timing. Paddle-boarders have the edge when it comes to catching the wave as they can get up to speed quicker. If you miss the leading wave, fear not; the wave train runs upriver like a herd of buffalo. There are plenty to be had.
The World’s Top 7 Surfing Tidal Bores*:*Not in order!
1. The Benak.
Where: Batang Lupar, Malaysia.
Wave Height: 3-12ft.
Right in at the top of the list and for good reason. This October 14-16 marks the annual Tidal Bore Festival. The two day festival plugs the region into the river and is a great celebration of the river and the wave. The frontier of paddleboards and long boards meet the tradition of the long narrow river boats. Both meet on the waves and race in front of thousands of fans.
2. The Bono.
Where: Kampar River, Sumata
Wave Height: 13-20ft
The Bono or 7 Ghosts as it’s known locally; is found on the Kampar River and has run up to 60km inland, with a wave ranging from 13-20ft and traveling at 40kph. As with any tropical river – the murky waters are teeming with crocodiles! That hasn’t been enough to put off the thrill seekers that charge the bore each year. Englishman Steve King set the record in 2013 – surfing 12.8 miles on the bore.
Famously stating “We saw a couple of crocs which was scary. You certainly don’t see them in the Severn…Breaking the record is fantastic. I only stopped when the wave finished.” King himself no stranger to tidal bores - setting a record in ’06, surfing 9.25 miles on the Severn Bore. The Bono is far and away one of the most impressive tidal bores for the quality of the wave and it’s sheer size.
Legendary US boardrider Tom Curren and his friends are no strangers to surfing tidal bores took on the wave in 2011
3. The Silver Dragon.
Where: Qiantang River, China.
Wave Height: 10-30ft
Jump on the Silver Dragon and hang on. The sheer volume of water make this the biggest tidal bore on the planet. Surfing it is illegal. Special permission has been granted to Red Bull for their surfers. This incredibly powerful tidal bore is located on the Qiantang river and occurs during China’s Mid-Autumn Festival when the full moon sends a spring tide surging up the river for miles.
Southern California and Hawaii’s finest, including Jamie O’Brien have flown in to ride the Silver Dragon. Boats, bridges, timber and concrete pillars are but a few obstacles you will encounter when surfing China’s main tidal bore.
4. The Severn Bore.
Where: The Severn River, Bristol
Wave Height: 5-25ft
First surfed by a British soldier in the 1950’s, the Severn Bore flows from the Bristol Channel through to the weir in Gloucester. The two best places to watch the bore run are Stonebench and Minsterworth. The biggest Severn Bores are during the Vernal Equinox from February to April and the Autumnal Equinox from August to October. As stated earlier, the record of 9.25 miles was set by Steve King in 2006. King first rode the Severn Bore back in 198 and has achieved legendary status for his heroics surfing tidal bores!
5. The Pororoca.
Where: The Amazon, Brazil
Wave Height: 3-14ft.
Brazil’s famous tidal bore that runs up to 500 miles inland. Occuring twice a year in late Spring – February and March. The name Pororoca is indigenous and translates to “great roar” holds the title of the longest wave on earth. This wave is full of obstacles washed downstream, from caimans to trees! Since 1999 Sao Domingos do Capim has been holding an annual championship. Back in 2003, Picuruta Salazar rode 7.5 miles up the river and into the record books. Here’s Robby Naish on the wave
6. Turnagain Bore.
Where: Turnagain Arm, Alaska
Wave Height: 3-10ft
Up in Alaska, on the edge of the Arctic Circle lies the Turnagain Bore. Running up to 10ft high and barrelling up the Turnagain Arm. As per the Severn Bore, the best time to surf here is during the equinoxes . In contrast to the temperate and tropical bores, this wave is set against a truly stunning backdrop of snow covered mountains.
While the idea of Alaska and surfing may not go hand in hand, if you are brave enough to venture this into the frontier; borrow, beg or steal a board for this one. Surfing tidal bores in Alaska is not for the feint hearted – don’t land in Anchorage without a solid winter wetsuit. Water temperatures here hover on 4 °C. You’d be cold just thinking about it!!
7. The Baan.
Where: Hooghly River, India.
Wave Height: 5-10ft
Nicknamed the Baan after the German highway for it’s speed. It’s one fast moving body of water. The Hooghly river, a tributary of the Ganges produces a tidal bore that runs for up to 25 miles. Reaching up up 10ft in height and producing a really clean barrel, this is one brilliant wave. The bore runs daily on high tides, whipping up loose trees and debris. If you can brave the flotsam and jetsam, go for it! Here’s a look at JetSutf’s very own Everaldo “Pato” Teixeira taking on the wave