The spooky month was one heck of a time for the world's best river mouth wave at Mundaka. It's pretty much been Octuber (!) there for the past few swells, with the latest capping out yesterday amongst a mid-sized, but oh so hoot-worthy session at the jewel of Europe's rugged crown.
There's something about the Basque Country that just breaths different than the rest of the Old Continent. More sense of space, of surroundings. Where people and culture come together for pintxos and txakoli or, you know, where river and oceanic currents meet – those things that help produce one of the most awesome waves on the planet.
The season's only just getting started, really. But yesterday and, even into a few weeks back (where the majority of these images have come in from) there were more tubes than you can fill your boots with. Yet, despite it looking like heaven on earth, the sand hasn't been quite there for Mundaka...yet.
Yeah, we know what we said. This (above) was yesterday. And if this isn't even Mundaka on its A-game, imagine when it finally is. Wow.
You can see it via our live cam. Those days you'd expect to see 200, 300 metre waves, reeling out of screen and into the estuary haven't really materialised and that's largely down to the sand bars still getting warmed up.
That's not to say the days haven't epic. Look at it! That's a AAA day, and AAA opening to the season, anywhere else in the world
Not in the literal sense, but we mean the sand is going to get blasted about all autumn and winter and it's these sandbars that help shape and sculpt those beautiful waves along with the mix of oceanic and river currents. We need more activity out of the Atlantic to help get things looking perfect and hopefully, when it aligns just right, it'll help deliver those fuller, reeling kegs we love to see.
It's something we asked Jon Aspuru about, the lensman who has been at just about every Mundaka swell of the past few years.
“At the beginning of the season the sandbar was incredibly full,” he said. “But as always, it seems that the big swells with offshore wind are getting later and those little swells are sweeping the sand so we haven't yet had those epic days.
“There are barrels, but they are concentrated in one or two sections of the wave. And not in the entire wave line, as happened years ago. And then obviously it's busier here now too, maybe due to COVID? Lockdown? People wanting to get out. Now it seems that days of onshore and lockdowns at home are coming (but with bad waves). Let's see how that affects our sensitive sandbanks.”
That's not to say the days haven't epic. Look at it! That's a AAA day, and AAA opening to the season, anywhere else in the world. "The first day of the season, it was completely perfect," Natxo Gonzlaez tells MSW. "The bank was epic. The whole wave was a slab from big to the inside and we thought, this is going to be the year of Mudaka. But it's been pretty slow since. When the wind was good, the swell was bad, it feels like there's been something missing.
"The bank, now, has been pretty weak. It feels like it's a bit gone for the moment. There is a little hope though as we just need a crazy swell to get it happening again. The wave is there, you know, but we need the sand. It's crowded, yeah, people have been locked up and it's been some days of lots of people and not many waves. But we're happy to wait for one of those crazy good days at Mundaka again."
As part of his End of The World surf trip, which is touring Europe in an electric vehicle (see HERE) MSW forecaster Tony Butt has been in Mundaka recently. "I could see the bar isn't in good shape at the moment." Oh but there's hope! "Next few days is forecast heavy rain and onshore wind, so that will shift the sediment around."
As for the swell yesterday? This capped out in the morning, with wave heights in the solid head high plus range. An 8ft@11second period swell rifled in from the north west (which means, it went directly to shore at Mundaka), creating all you see throughout.
Wind in the morning was moderate, from the south west, which is offshore for Mundaka. The actual wave runs off the top of the Urdaibai reserve, with that part of the coastline actually facing east, in a little nook carved out of the Basque's coastline. That means, a south west wind would actually blow into the wave face, creating, well barrels, if the sand is on point.