Thursday, October 29, 2020, a huge swell caused by Hurricane Epsilon is expected on the Atlantic coast. The depression located in the ocean, is intensifying to 945 millibars and promises to be gigantic, like a classic midwinter swell.
The news quickly spreads across the closed community of big-wave surfers of the south-west: Belharra, the huge wave that only breaks very rarely off the coast of Urrugne (Pyrénées-Atlantiques), is on the verge of waking up. The rumor is confirmed and everyone is on a war footing.
Some prepare to confront this salt water mountain by getting towed in by a jet ski; others, either more experienced or more daring, want to attempt to take on this giant wave by paddling in…
Paddling in is what surfer Vincent Duvignac, from the Landes, decided to try out that day. Rip Curl chose to share this attempt with us, deciding to follow him for 24 hrs, unobtrusively and using an onboard camera.
You can feel the excitement, followed by a sense of anxiety, fascination, dread, disappointment, humility, and also pride. Vincent Duvignac shares a mixture of strong emotions with us that will take the viewer on a roller-coaster journey throughout this short but intense documentary; an experience that will certainly remain forever etched in his heart
Watching A LA RAME by Rip Curl, we also get to know a Vincent Duvignac who is honest, daring, moving, humble and pragmatic when he explains his feelings about this experience:
“Lots of questions unanswered about my physical and mental preparation at this point in the season, about the equipment and the safety leash to be used when going so far out to sea... And this 13-foot board weighing 30 kg that I’ve been looking at for 6 years in Rob’s workshop, is it surfable? With chop like this, I’m not sure. Is it possible to paddle in to Belharra? Yes, but the unique challenge lies in the positioning, and how that means you're guaranteed to get a massive wave come crashing down on you... Huge respect for chargers, but heading off paddling in without knowing which trajectory to take and simply enduring the speed, is not at all what I’m looking for in achieving a ride. I came without pretension, and even getting towed into a wave, I wasn’t keen. Seven years after my first tow-in wave on this spot, I’ve finally stopped being obsessed by this paddle-in challenge out at sea, but I’m driven to constantly improve my paddle-in technique to get the best possible trajectory in tubular waves. That’s what I’m really obsessed with!!” Ends Vincent Duvignac.
The final shots of the film portray outstanding images of Vincent, delighted to take full advantage of fall 2020’s exceptional conditions. We’re seeing the fluid, quick, and graceful “Duvignac style”, as he surfs perfectly tubular waves in his back yard in the Landes. The power and perfection of these hollow waves mean they are ranked among the best sandbanks in the world.