Tragedy struck yesterday (14/06/20) in Hossegor, France as a bodysurfer, as yet unidentified but estimated to be aged 40-50 drowned at La Nord, the big wave break located outside of la Graviere and in front of the main beach square, la Centrale.
A solid NW groundswell had been confused overnight by a stormier local seas, but with winds suddenly swirling offshore from mid-morning, some good-to-epic conditions were to be had along the coast under sunny skies.
There were thick tubes in the shorebreaks at La Graviere and in Capbreton with relatively light crowds as the tide filled in towards a lunchtime high water.
With an unruly yet glassy shorter period swell mixed in with the longer groundswell, there were lots of double ups, and a noticeable increase in power in the water at certain spots.
It’s relatively easy to get a two wave hold down on beaches in the area when the swell is around 6ft plus and the period short at 9 seconds as it was yesterday, for obvious reasons.
The alarm was first raised when the bodysurfer was seen getting into trouble around 3.30pm, around about mid-tide going out, when la Nord starts to turn on and when the rips starts to get at their strongest.
Lifeguards posted at la Centrale and a surfer in the water staged a rescue from what is reported as being about 500m outside, eventually getting the unconscious man to shore.
Attempts to resuscitate by lifeguards and then paramedics were ultimately unsuccessful.
A report on Sudouest stated the unidentified man was in boardshorts when found, but doesn’t state if he was wearing swim fins. An appeal has been put out locally to help identify the man pending a DNA test and a number plate check of cars parked nearby.
Bearing in mind the tragedy happened on a lifeguarded beach on one of the busiest beach days of the year so far as France emerges almost entirely from lockdown, it’s worth reminding ourselves of the obvious and constant danger the ocean poses, no matter how experienced we are or how comfortable we might feel in and around it.
Just over two weeks ago, a 6-year-old drowned in the shorebreak at nearby Ondres, where French former CT surfer Joan Duru grew up.
Whatever the conditions and wherever you are, please look out for each other, and always use swim fins when bodysurfing on bigger days. If you’ve ever thought about doing a first aid/CPR course please do so, it might well end up saving someone’s life.
Cover image: Tim Nunn