Surfing Canada's River Bore
Celebrating our latest store launch in Bristol, we're telling stories from the city's most committed surfers. Steve King, Bristol's legendary bore surfer, packed up his board and Finisterre suit in pursuit of surfing in colder Canadian waters on the 'Chocolate River'.
The world of bore surfing is still fairly small but I have managed to get some contacts all over the globe who share this obsession of mine, so I contact Daniel Le Blanc who lives next to the Petitcodiac River in New Brunswick. He has only been riding the bore there for a few years as it has only just started working again following the opening of the controversial tidal barrier that was built in the late sixties. Daniel confirms the dates are good and the river shouldn’t be frozen over by then!
The first thing I notice is the mud. Now I am from the River Severn and I thought I knew all there is to know about mud but this was something else. Because of the barrier that had been closed for nearly forty years the sediment levels were something I had never seen before. This was like a thick chocolate milkshake that you just sank into!
Slipping down the bank we were joined by another of the local bore riders, (there are only four), Melvin who hails from Costa Rica. As always the welcome from a fellow bore rider was great, and talk of how long a ride and how big it would be soon filled the air. The bore spilled around the corner, not too big, and we all took off.
The next few days were spent at the same spot with rides over a mile lasting around ten to fifteen minutes. This spot was right in the middle of town but the next four or five days would see us ride the tide in some of the most spectacular surroundings I have seen. The colours of the trees at this time of the year were incredible. The spots down river involved driving down some secluded tracks avoiding electric racoon fences and steep cliff-like entries, but we were rewarded with some long smooth rides on the “Chocolate River”. Nice easy take offs and some classy lefts and rights. Not Bono size and power but the same feeling I get whenever I’m riding a bore anywhere in the world.
One day found us looking at spots upstream of the barrier to see if there were any sections working. We stopped and spoke to a lady in her garden to ask about the tide only to see it coming around the bend in the distance about a mile away. We asked politely and grabbed the boards, running through her field into the river to catch a wave. It was only about eight inches in height, but we surfed it and claimed it as a first! A bore rider will understand this obsession to ride a tide where it hasn’t been ridden before.
After a few days, word gets around that two Englishmen have travelled across the Atlantic to surf the tidal bore here in Moncton. We made the front and back pages for a few days and got used as a reason “to visit Moncton” by the tourism board! We took a trip down to Nova Scotia to look at a tide on the Salmon River in Truro. We managed to ride it for a few hundred yards. According to the locals, this may have been a first
So another bore (two including the Salmon River) ticked off in my quest. This is a river which will only get better as time and tide go on, flushing out the years of sediment build. I’ll definitely be back again.
- words by Steve King