Oh, Hello 2023! January Hasn't Stopped Pumping

Jason Lock

by on

Updated 20d ago

There has been no shortage of swell in Europe and beyond since the New Year, 2023. And we’re not just talking about the usual suspects.

Scotland’s had waves, and snow. Ireland’s been big and windy but offered some great days of paddle surfing. The reefs of southern England switched on. France finally saw a couple good days at La Nord. And the surf extended well beyond Western Europe. Morocco went psycho on Monday, January 9th. Italy got a playful Mediterranean pulse a couple days ago, and that same pulse made its way to the shores of Israel last weekend.

Video by Amine Nader, Helio Antonio, Peyton Willard, Greg Menager, Bella Bunce and Tom Kitson. Edited by Tom Vaughan.

For the UK, the winter months are primetime for south swells to wrap into the reefs of southern England, and right on cue, a fun-sized pulse made a beeline up the English Channel and unloaded on a hunk of rock around the Penwith peninsula on January 2nd.

Not even a week later, another swell was on its way. This time, the Bay of Biscay with its cold pointbreaks and world-class beachbreaks picked up the brunt of this licking.

Perhaps Scotland’s most famous wave, Thurso, overlooked by its castle. Fun fact, a much older structure was in place that dated back to the 12th Century. But what you see here was rebuilt in 1872. That’s 900 years of barrels.

Perhaps Scotland’s most famous wave, Thurso, overlooked by its castle. Fun fact, a much older structure was in place that dated back to the 12th Century. But what you see here was rebuilt in 1872. That’s 900 years of barrels.

© 2023 - Ross Taylor

Cornwall-based Andrew Douglas soon acclimatised to the cold.

Cornwall-based Andrew Douglas soon acclimatised to the cold.

© 2023 - Ross Taylor

“This was a good way to start the year,” said Charly Quivront, who surfed Hossegor’s La Nord on January 6th. A few days later, that same swell hit North Africa, and Charly was there, too. “I made the call to come last minute and flew here right after that swell in France,” he said. “Happy that I flew down south to get a few waves and escape the storm at home.”

“It got cleaner as the day went on,” said Yoni Klein, who’s originally from Israel but has spent large parts of his adult life surfing Morocco. “There were some beautiful scenes out there.”

The term cold water warrior is used a lot, but there’s perhaps no one more deserving of the title than Ian Battrick. One time, this Channel Islands’ local slept under a van, in an Icelandic tunnel, during a blizzard.

The term cold water warrior is used a lot, but there’s perhaps no one more deserving of the title than Ian Battrick. One time, this Channel Islands’ local slept under a van, in an Icelandic tunnel, during a blizzard.

© 2023 - Mal Anderson

“Phoebe Strachan is so good out there,” says photographer Mal Anderson. Here, having a quiet moment amidst the snow.

“Phoebe Strachan is so good out there,” says photographer Mal Anderson. Here, having a quiet moment amidst the snow.

© 2023 - Mal Anderson

“It was an amazing way to start off the year really,” said Ben Norton about the UK’s opening swell of ’23. “Amazing to see Lukas surfing out there and showing us all it was a barrel-to-air wave.”

Not many people would take a look over the edge here in Ireland. And then there’s Tom Lowe.

Not many people would take a look over the edge here in Ireland. And then there’s Tom Lowe.

© 2023 - Gary McCall

Surprise! It’s Mikey Wright.

Surprise! It’s Mikey Wright.

© 2023 - Darragh Gorman

North Devon born, now Ireland resident, Taz Knight has swung back to surfing over the past few years. The charger had been out with a knee injury.

North Devon born, now Ireland resident, Taz Knight has swung back to surfing over the past few years. The charger had been out with a knee injury.

© 2023 - Gary McCall

Right here, Cotty didn’t know he was only a few hours away from speaking to Garrett McNamara about a trip to Cortes Bank. The rest of that story is coming soon…

Right here, Cotty didn’t know he was only a few hours away from speaking to Garrett McNamara about a trip to Cortes Bank. The rest of that story is coming soon…

© 2023 - Gary McCall

Our Senior Ireland Correspondent, Dylan Stott. Someone who knows this prime slab very well.

Our Senior Ireland Correspondent, Dylan Stott. Someone who knows this prime slab very well.

© 2023 - Darragh Gorman

Portugal has arguably been the standout of January so far, with some beautiful days of glassy Nazare, some flawless days in Peniche, and a couple of gold days further south. Of course, on Thursday, January 5th, Marcio Freire passed away while surfing Nazare, which quickly went from a paddle day to a tow day by the afternoon. The mood at Praia do Norte remains sombre.

Surfers of Nazare gathered on Friday to honour the life of Marcio.

Surfers of Nazare gathered on Friday to honour the life of Marcio.

© 2023 - Heidi Hansen

“There were a couple good ones and this one set came in and hit the reef perfectly and I was in the right spot,” said Lukas Skinner here. “I took off and all I had to do was bottom turn and stand there. It was a fun wave.”

“There were a couple good ones and this one set came in and hit the reef perfectly and I was in the right spot,” said Lukas Skinner here. “I took off and all I had to do was bottom turn and stand there. It was a fun wave.”

© 2023 - Caleb Giddens

“Ended up staying in four hours or so, which I haven’t done in a long time,” says Ben Norton.

“Ended up staying in four hours or so, which I haven’t done in a long time,” says Ben Norton.

© 2023 - Caleb Giddens

Left: Bella Collins and Jamie Curnow, post novelty session. Right: “Most of the main breaks were written off,” said James Davies, pictured here. “But these brought large swells wrapping around to some of the more novelty spots which are always fun, regardless of the big crowds that come with them.”

Left: Bella Collins and Jamie Curnow, post novelty session. Right: “Most of the main breaks were written off,” said James Davies, pictured here. “But these brought large swells wrapping around to some of the more novelty spots which are always fun, regardless of the big crowds that come with them.”

© 2023 - Ross Taylor

For Spanish pro Gony Zubizaretta, though, this past weekend offered a chance to surf Cave in Ericeira, a spot he hadn’t been to since 2017. “I know how dangerous it is,” he said, “and you can get seriously hurt if you surf it often.”

Saturday rolled around and Gony took a cautionary look with UK surfer Arran Strong. “We were feeling it,” Strong said. “Gony paddled into one wave and the takeoff was easy, but then it got shallow and square, fast.”

Gony only one wave but that’s all you need at Cave.

Gony only one wave but that’s all you need at Cave.

© 2023 - Victor Gonzalez

A difficult wave to surf well, but pretty to look at.

A difficult wave to surf well, but pretty to look at.

© 2023 - Helio Antonio

From bagging Wave of the Days, to visiting a special Moroccan spot for the first time, Miguel Blanco is having one heck of a winter. Here he is at home in Ericeira.

From bagging Wave of the Days, to visiting a special Moroccan spot for the first time, Miguel Blanco is having one heck of a winter. Here he is at home in Ericeira.

© 2023 - Noora Lindstrom

Meanwhile, Cornwall-based photographer Ross Taylor hit the road for an 800-mile trip through the Scottish Highlands with his surfing pal, Andrew Douglas. “After a 14-hour dash, we made it to Thurso,” Ross said. “We went to sleep and woke up to fields of snow and groomed lines filling the bay.”

The west coast of Ireland had a decent run in the middle of January when its premier slab went into XL mode. And amidst all that wind and all that movement, Tom Lowe, Dylan Stott, Will Skudin, Gearoid McDaid, Taz Knight and more decided to paddle.

Gony and UK surfer Arran Strong, who moved to Ericeira back in 2015. “It’s a place I thought I could pursue my dream of being a pro surfer,” said Strong.

Gony and UK surfer Arran Strong, who moved to Ericeira back in 2015. “It’s a place I thought I could pursue my dream of being a pro surfer,” said Strong.

© 2023 - Victor Gonzalez

Kanoa Igarashi’s been dancing around Portugal for a while now.

Kanoa Igarashi’s been dancing around Portugal for a while now.

© 2023 - Noora Lindstrom

A name to keep an eye on; Andres Melendez, surrounded by all that blue in Portugal.

A name to keep an eye on; Andres Melendez, surrounded by all that blue in Portugal.

© 2023 - Victor Gonzalez

“Made it until it pinched,” Gony said. “The biggest danger there is the middle part of the wave, where the lip is landing on dry reef. I didn’t touch the bottom, and when I came to the surface, I started screaming with so much stoke and adrenaline.”

An angle of Nazare rarely seen. Front on, that tee-pee looks inviting.

An angle of Nazare rarely seen. Front on, that tee-pee looks inviting.

© 2023 - Hannah Durr

Manuel Frois, early in the day of January 5th.

Manuel Frois, early in the day of January 5th.

© 2023 - Helio Antonio

Meanwhile, Cornwall-based photographer Ross Taylor hit the road for an 800-mile trip through the Scottish Highlands with his surfing pal, Andrew Douglas. “After a 14-hour dash, we made it to Thurso,” Ross said. “We went to sleep and woke up to fields of snow and groomed lines filling the bay.”

The west coast of Ireland had a decent run in the middle of January when its premier slab went into XL mode. And amidst all that wind and all that movement, Tom Lowe, Dylan Stott, Will Skudin, Gearoid McDaid, Taz Knight and more decided to paddle.

Back on January 6th, Hossegor finally had a session to remember. The sand’s shifting around a bunch, so premiere beachie La Grav still isn’t right. But nearby La Nord, is glorious.

Back on January 6th, Hossegor finally had a session to remember. The sand’s shifting around a bunch, so premiere beachie La Grav still isn’t right. But nearby La Nord, is glorious.

© 2023 - Seb Picaud

“Holland’s Blue Monday, that’s what we’re calling it,” said photographer Jop Hermans about the start of this week in the North Sea.

“Holland’s Blue Monday, that’s what we’re calling it,” said photographer Jop Hermans about the start of this week in the North Sea.

© 2023 - Jop Hermans

“The North Atlantic kicked off 2023 in its typical winter mode,” said Europe forecaster Jamie Bateman, “which means a nonstop supply of W/WNW swell. The most notable pulse was from Friday, January 6th through Sunday, January 8th, when a low merged with a cold front moving southward down the Labrador Sea.

Away from Morocco’s surfing hub of Taghazout is a very special wave. A couple of Mondays ago, it switched on for the first swell of 2023. Check out the video above.

Away from Morocco’s surfing hub of Taghazout is a very special wave. A couple of Mondays ago, it switched on for the first swell of 2023. Check out the video above.

© 2023 - Amine Nader

This multi-sectioned, multi-faced point has all kinds of emotions attached to it; making the drop, making the barrel, cruising the mid-section to finally the long, arm-burning paddle back around. If you navigate it all, woohoo!

This multi-sectioned, multi-faced point has all kinds of emotions attached to it; making the drop, making the barrel, cruising the mid-section to finally the long, arm-burning paddle back around. If you navigate it all, woohoo!

© 2023 - Francisco Antunes

Israel-born Yoni Klein has been surfing here for the better part of a decade and rarely misses a swell.

Israel-born Yoni Klein has been surfing here for the better part of a decade and rarely misses a swell.

© 2023 - Amine Nader

“This is the system that rifled swell into Western Europe and beyond, lighting up spots from the far north of Scotland right down into Africa, and the North Atlantic’s remained active ever since. It’s not all good news, though, as there’s a strong W wind in place for Western Europe, which means it’s been onshore, although Portugal did have some moments on January 12th and 13th.”

“Further ahead forecast models hint at a cooler NW flow across Western Europe as a large high pressure forms in the Atlantic, before edging eastward later in the month. Expect NW swell but NW wind along with it as that high expands north of the Azores.”

The Basque had some grunt to it too. Artiz Aranburu at Roka Puta, Spain’s big right hander will only awaken in XL swells. Like a couple of weeks ago.

The Basque had some grunt to it too. Artiz Aranburu at Roka Puta, Spain’s big right hander will only awaken in XL swells. Like a couple of weeks ago.

© 2023 - Gorka Gurdi

But wait! The Med had waves too. This is just a tease, full feature out of Italy is coming soon.

But wait! The Med had waves too. This is just a tease, full feature out of Italy is coming soon.

© 2023 - Andrea Giana

… and Israel too. Jonathan Jacobovich, from late last week.

… and Israel too. Jonathan Jacobovich, from late last week.

© 2023 - Amit Schestowitz

Meiron Cohen, into the light. Israel, last week

Meiron Cohen, into the light. Israel, last week

© 2023 - Uri Magnus

There’s more swell on the way, particularly for the north coast of the UK over the next few days. Keep an eye on the cams; Fistral | Croyde | Nazare | Supertubos | Anchor Point |