When The Dust Settles : The Surfer’s Path
There have been many changes in Morocco since the days when Taghazoute was just a dusty little village at the end of the Hippy Trail. During my first trip in the mid-90′s there were no luxury apartments or broadband, no surf shops or wax. My last trip to the area had been in 2001, and I was keen to return to see just how the village had changed, what impact the influx of surfers have had on the lives of locals and hear first hand their thoughts on the new ‘Plan Azur’ – the redevelopment slated for the region that counts golf courses, marinas and private beachfront resorts among some of its highlights. The resulting piece ran to eight pages in The Surfer’s Path. _CN
WHEN THE DUST SETTLES // CHRIS NELSON
Chops Lascelles looks down with a start. He scans the deep, down past the deck of his green tinted Lightening Bolt, a 7’10 Sunset gun from his recent Hawaiian trip. In the clear waters below a huge black presence glides. A blast of spray signals the arrival of another killer whale as it breaks the surface. This winter these apex predators have been regular visitors to the line-up, but today they move off quickly into deeper waters, perhaps sensing something is afoot. Way outside a huge wall is approaching, emerald pearlescent rippling in the offshores, feathering already. The four surfers start paddling north. The winter of ‘76 has been epic, but this is the day. 10 to 12ft sets are maxing so far out that the take off point has shifted past the ruins, up towards Mysteries. Crowning the next headland, Killer Point is beyond immense.
Chops picks the last wave in the set and begins to stroke into it. He angles down the face just as the wave draws off the bottom, the wall laced with fingers of sand begins to dredge along the bank. The lip arcs and throws, he squats as the single fin bites. The watching crowd sees the lone figure disappear, dwarfed by the huge cavern, way out from the tip of the point. The wave races south, rolling thunder that traces the edge of the sandbank, a speeding roaring leviathan bearing down on the village. Deep in the bowels Chops has one thought on his mind – “I thought I was going to die! I’d already watched one guy get dragged down the point and come out covered in blood with his wetsuit shredded. But this wave just kept going and going, everyone thought I’d fallen but then I came out into the daylight and there I was – right down at the end of the point by the cove. I couldn’t believe it. That wave at Anchor Point was, and is to this day the best wave I’ve ever had in my life.”
The Beach Beat shaping bay in St Agnes Cornwall, is a long way from Anchor Point, and Chops has come a long way from young Aussie traveller to one of the Europe’s best known shapers. He stops sanding the blank and looks up as he begins another tale of adventure. Stories unfold of a VW Combi, an idyllic season camped out at The Source, watching the waves, a transient band of travellers, surfers and hippies for company. This was no tourist destination, this was a dusty, shrub lined headland serviced by the occasional local, arriving with cookies, oranges or hash doughnuts to sell. “Mary and I camped up there for three or four months. People came and went, word got around but we were off the beaten track. There were no phones, or texts or Facebook, but people still found you. One day my brother Humphrey arrived from Australia and just walked up the street and said ‘Hi’. There were Brits, Aussies and Americans. Kevin Peterson and Craig Naughton passed through.” The line-ups were empty, the waves were epic and the hash was cheap. The dye was set. Morocco was nirvana and Taghazoute was the place every searcher needed to visit…Cont.
This article was first published in Issue 91 The Surfer’s Path