Frenchman Antony Colas discovers the Baan, a tidal bore on Calcutta’s Ganga River.
These days it’s not easy to find new waves. And so when you do, it is a big deal. And if that means surfing amongst dead sheep, human faeces and on a river that cuts through a city of over 15 million people, well, you just gotta go. That’s what Frenchman Antony “Yep” Colas did last year when he was one of a group of surfers to be the first to surf a tidal bore on Calcutta’s Ganga River. “The wave was surprisingly big and fast, like a bullet train,” Yep told Tracks. “Usual bore speeds range around 10 miles per hour, but the Baan travels at almost 20 miles per hour. That's why we named it after an Autobaan, the German motorways where there is no speed limit.”
And if Yep says it's fast, well than it's fast. Apart from being one of the world’s most intrepid surf explorers he is, without doubt, the premier dude when it comes to tidal bores. He was the first to surf the Malaysia (Benak) and Indonesia (Bono) and has chalked sessions at home in France, plus the Amazon’s Pororoca and Chinese Quangchao. Such is his knowledge of these river and tidal based phenomena he has just put out a 270 page coffee table style book called Mascaret l’Onde Lunaire (Lunar Tidal Waves) documenting his adventures.
This latest Indian jaunt though had, even for him, a fair degree of difficulty. “Well, just getting there with the traffic was insane. And with a population of 15 million people, including 2 million living in the streets, that doesn’t help for cleanliness. When you cruise the river, you do see quite a few naked bums taking a shit!” Yep said. “But there is a lot of water moving there and the monsoon rains help to wash out the mess. The Baan itself helps too, acting like a vacuum and sucking up all the debris. Our team had nine people and no one got sick.”
In fact with the Baan under his belt he is now targeting the whole Ganges Delta as an area ripe for exploration. “The network of tidal bores that affects the rivers in the Ganges Delta is just huge, maybe as big as the Amazon basin,” he says, excitedly. “In the Sunderbans, the delta between Bangladesh and West Bengal province, I could go there for the next 10 years and study a different river on every trip.”
And just like in Calcutta, crowds won’t be an issue. “Out there it’s pretty wild," he says. "There are Bengal Tigers and saltwater crocs, so we are talking a real adventure.” Think about that the next time you complain about the crowds at your local break.