11/30/08

World Surf Spot 5 : Mundaka (Euzkadi)



A Famous Wave Returns to Spain


One of Europe's most famous waves disappeared three years ago, delivering a shock to the international surf community as well as a blow to tourism in the Basque village of Mundaka. But now the waves are rolling again.

The last Sunday of September in this Basque town on the Spanish coast wallows in an idyllic, late-summer quiet. Fitness-happy old men take their sagging bellies for a walk in the mirror-like sea. "Twenty times back and forth, then I'll be done," one of them says, while his wife, having planted a parasol in the sand, attends to the lives of the rich and famous in her magazine.

Mundaka, Spain, about forty kilometers northeast of Bilbao, isn't known as a haven for senior citizens. It's a famous surf Mecca, featuring Europe's best left-breaking wave. Surfers used to gather here every autumn for a professional contest -- until three years ago, when the wave simply disappeared, leaving Mundaka and its beaches to the retirees.

But now the wave is back, and so is the contest. The world-class "Billabong Pro Mundaka" runs this year from October 3-14, bringing flocks of surfers and tourists to the former fishing village.
The wave disappeared in the winter of 2003, after a local shipyard company called Murueta S.A. dredged the Guernica estuary at the mouth of the Oka River, ruining what turned out to be a very important sandbar. The dredging changed the flow of the river so drastically that the coastal seawater just blubbered and swayed where it used to rear up into a speeding curl. It was a catastrophe, not just for surfers but also for tourism in Mundaka -- not to mention the local hip clothing shops that had thrived in the area's bustling surf culture.
Thanks to : Sören Meschede


3feet of clean surf in Bilbao and Mundaka last week end