As most of my classmates were huddled in the corner of the classroom admiring the centrefold of the latest FHM supermodel, I sat alone on the other side of the room drooling over a completely different beauty.
While my friends pined for sultry curves and busts, I was fantasizing over the swells, points, faces and lips of waves. My favourites were exotic beauties such as Cloudbreak in Fiji, G-Land in Indonesia and our home grown honey, Jeffries Bay, on the South African Garden Route. Understandably my Valentines Day was a pretty uneventful affair. Our school had a tradition of inviting students who had received roses and other gifts onto the stage to be acknowledged by the school. This process could be particularly embarrassing if one was to receive a soppy message or God forbid the old social suicide love letter from one’s mum. It became pretty obvious who the players were in the school and as they went up to receive their colours for seduction, I sat in my chair doodling waves, dreaming about when my time would come.
One of my dream waves was Chicama. She was my playmate of the year; the 10 out of 10; the bee’s knees; my college sweetheart. From the age of 13 I had heard of her goddess like features. At 4 km long she was the longest wave in the world and on the right day she could give a ride that could possess a man’s mind.
This beauty is located on the Northern coast of Peru and has very particular tastes. She only comes out when there is a minimum of 8 foot South West swell and a North Easterly wind. She likes a very patient surfer who is willing to sacrifice a significant amount of time waiting for her beauty to be revealed.
I had travelled all the way to Peru to surf Chicama. On my travels up the coast, I had met an Australian who had waited for nine days without so much as a flirt. I stayed at the neighbouring surf town of Huanchaco where I was able to surf while constantly surveying the swell forecasts in the hope that she would surface.
It had been 10 days and things were getting desperate. A few days before I was scheduled to travel up to Ecuador my eyes dilated as I saw the swell jump to a solid 9 feet with perfect conditions. I would get my chance with Chicama.
As the swells from a storm off the East coast of New Zealand travelled thousands of miles in the direction of Peru, I raced along the coast in dodgy chicken trucks and arrived after dark in the small fishing village.
There were other surfers who had come to compete for the legendary waves. My first encounter was a 6 ft 7” Yorkshireman who looked like something out of Terminator 2 as he greeted me with a pair of dark black sunglasses. This would be re-enforced when he removed them to reveal an eye that was lost due to the sharp tip of a surf board. He had replaced it with a solid red fake eye which he assured me, was not meant to intimidate people who try interfere in his pursuit of Chicama. Steve was also enchanted and would prove a worthy adversary for her affections. After some dinner I stood on the balcony of my hostel which was perched on the cliff right above the break. Staring out into the darkness, I could hear the waves crashing. I merged the sounds with the image I had had in my head for so many years to envisage the potential that I would wake up to in the morning.
Rising at 5am I was greeted with Chicama in all her glory.
Perfect 6 foot waves running perfectly off the point with an almost wave pool like consistency. The break has 3 sections spanning the whole length of the point. They seldom all align to provide a 4 km wave but even the final section in this picture provided a local with a wave that lasted 4 minutes and 29 seconds over two kilometres.
I was frothing at the mouth while I wriggled on the floor unable to put my wetsuit on quick enough. I sprinted out to the point doing significant damage to my feet as I scrambled over very sharp rocks. I felt no pain. All I had was pure adrenaline and excitement running through my veins as I anticipated finally jumping in the water.
My first wave was one of my best and I rode what I worked out to be a 900 meter ride. The wave just kept on going and going. Any time a surfer goes bigger or further on a wave than they have ever gone before, it creates a high that is truly unique. I did not just double my longest ride, I went almost six times longer than I had ever been before.
After coming off the wave drunk with emotion and every pleasure receptor firing I just cried out with sheer joy and enjoyed a private celebration that all surfers can appreciate.
While surfing Chicama, I experienced a sensation that I have never had before. Usually surfers’ arms are the first to burn from doing large amounts of paddling with limited stress on one’s legs as you usually surf in short but intense bursts. At Chicama this was the complete reverse. I did almost no paddling and my legs were literally cramping from being on my feet for such extended periods of time.
Packing up my things after a wild two day romance with Chicama, I was off to meet another special lady in my life. Her name was Emma and we had met in London after which she decided to come and join me on my travels. When she asked me how my time was she knew nothing about my secret affair with Chicama. “Ah it was great”, I said.What I could not say was that she was the best I had ever had and that in her own enchanting way, she had stolen my heart!
Look at more photos of my few days at Chicama Here