When winter storm Hercules hit much of Europe in early January the majority of the population were left running for cover. However, for big wave surfers, Hercules, represented the perfect opportunity to ride the biggest waves of their lives, with many of Europe's biggest breaks exploding into life.
Whilst, Antoine Albeau (RRD / NeilPryde), is a legend in the world of windsurfing - with twenty-one world titles to his name, including reigning PWA Slalom World Champion - the Big Frenchman is also an incredibly gifted surfer with an appetite for huge waves. When Albeau saw the forecast he gathered himself and his crew and headed immediately to Belharra, France. The crews efforts were soon greatly rewarded as they scored massive waves, which ultimately resulted in Albeau being nominated for the prestigious Billabong XXL accolade.
PWA: How does it feel to be nominated for the Billabong XXL?
AA: “Feels good man, before going to Belharra I wasn't even thinking about the Billabong XXL, now I am nominated and this is the best award in surfing.”
PWA: How often does Belharra work, and what swell gives the best conditions?
AA: “Only the big, big swell break and we normally have it once every 2/3 years, this winter it worked 3 times so they is no rules really.”
PWA: Is that the biggest wave you've surfed?
AA: “Yes this is the biggest wave I have ridden, Jaws was before the biggest.”
PWA: Who was the team that went with you and how was the whole experience?
AA: “It was my 5th or 6th time in Belharra, first time I went with Cedric Bordes (Tabou / Gaastra) we tried to windsurf it, I caught 2 waves but it didn't break, then I was tow-in surfing, I always go with Rico Leroy who drive me. He is multiple World Champion surfing longboard tandem with Sarah his partner, he has very good experience in the waves and I know he will always come and save me in any condition if I need.”
PWA: How many waves did you catch on that day?
AA: “I was the first one in the morning and the last one in the night, 8am on the place to 5pm, I took so many waves you can't believe it.”
PWA: It looks a heavy wave, is it intimidating / scary to surf it?
AA: “For sure this is scary, when you go for a wave you never know if you will go to the end or if you will fall, if you fall in the big one you have a lot of chance to drink water, so it is better not to fall. This wave is one of the most difficult waves in the world, the wave breaks at the speed of the swell because there is nothing to slow it down, no shallow reef and no coast, the break is 2km out of sea.”
PWA: What preparation do you do for taking on such a swell?
AA: “My PWA preparation is good, but it would be good to make some special one.”
PWA: Thanks Antoine, and congrats on the nomination for the Billabong XXL.
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