The phenomenon corresponds to a sudden rise in the water in certain rivers blessed by a funnel-shaped and shallow estuary, caused by the rising tide during spring tides. It occurs in the mouths and lower reaches of some streams when their current is thwarted by the flow of the rising tide. Unnoticeable most of the time, it occurs during every new and full moons. The most spectacular tidal bores can be seen at the mouths of the Qiantang in China, the Hooghly in India, the Amazon in Brazil, the Kampar in Indonesia, the Sittang in Burma…
Imagine you can ride to the hypnotic rhythm of a lunar wave, a wave going up the river for dozens of kilometers, from a few seconds to more than an hour, until your legs turn like jelly after countless turns on a seemingly never ending wall.
Never ever a tidal bore has been ridden in Russia, our game will be to find that phenomenon somewhere in the White Sea, not far from the Arctic Circle, in spite of hungry bears and myriads of mosquitoes. Since the Mezen River experienced tides of 9-10m, it is likely to harbor that lunar wave. Decision has been made, I will go around the full moon of August 22, 2021. It is therefore a question of finding and surfing the "Bor" of the White Sea. A “Bor” also called Nakat or Val, we will have to find out.
In May 2015, I was part of a scientific conference in Caen on tidal bores with representatives of different hydraulic laboratories and institutes from China, England, Italy, France and Russia. This is where I met Elena Dolgopolova from the Moscow Oceanographic Institute.
She performed a real convincing demonstration, by analyzing sharp hydrographic data, to prove the potential presence of a tidal bore, which none of us had ever heard of.
Except that she never had the budget to go there for a field study, and she was only able to unearth one small video on VK, the Russian YouTube, of a micro-bore, including here is a copy. I therefore kept in touch with her to find out if it would be possible to set up a joint operation and to know more about this famous "Bor". 5 years later, nothing has progressed, the administrative complications linked to budget restrictions, made our project stillborn.
By rummaging again on other video sites that I found an amateur clip, done by a local fisherman, not that exciting on a surfer’s level, but proving the presence of that wave in another river in the White Sea, with a rather promising bank profile, knowing that occurs about 40 km from the mouth. Enough to shelter a wave of 50 to 80cms, or even bigger, lower in the estuary.
Through the video comments, I started talking to Eugene, a young paddlesurfer from St Petersburg, also very curious to discover the phenomenon in his country not far from there. Less than 1000 km from his home! Let's go!
“There are waves everywhere, everything is a question of quality and frequency” This is my motto. Me, it's Antony “YEP” Colas, self-proclaimed spotologist, who, for more than 30 years, has crisscrossed the oceans and seas, surfboards under his arm. Journalist and photographer since 1995, through YEP, my little company, I am also the author of the “Stormrider World Guides” trilogy, some kind of Lonely Plant guide for surfers, sold over 150,000 copies worldwide.
Among the various types of waves, the tidal bore has become, since 1998, my favorite playground with more than thirty expeditions beyond my usual muddy spot: Dordogne and Garonne rivers.
This trip to the White Sea will be my 31st Tidal Bore expedition, outside my home spots, since 2005, the year I organized a bore-rider meeting on the Pororoca in Brazil. Until then, I have more or less managed to finance my research expeditions by selling texts & photos to magazines, and / or by pulling a "research" budget out of the marketing of my surf travel agency. But the disappearance of the print media (that used to pay rates) and the Covid pandemic have dried up my funding tracks.
It is therefore a question of absorbing the costs associated with a fortnight in the Archangelsk Oblast region. Which is 1200 € of flights & transport (Bordeaux - Paris, Paris St-Petersburg, St-Petersburg – Archankelgsk, Arcangelsk- Mezen), 600 € of boat costs (over 4-5 days) for the reccie of the surrounding rivers and 600 € of costs on site, accommodation (most probably tent) and food. + Visa (100 €). Pretty much a budget of 2500 €
Tout d'abord, un grand SPACIBA pour remercier les 47 contributeurs (+ qq uns qui se sont débrouillés autrement) qui ont alimenté cette cagnotte digitale sur EKOSEA. Ce qui me permet de foncer tête baissée vers une destination rendue difficile par ce CONTEXTE COVID.
Que s'est-il passé depuis la présentation du projet ?
- la Russie ne délivre pas de visa de tourisme et vient de passer en zone rouge ( quarantaine ou auto-isolement probable au retour). Gargl !
- Je passe donc par une agence spécialisée, qui me délivre une lettre d'invitation (en attente, cj requête) de "traitement médical" pour que je puisse rentrer dans le pays. Je ne sais d'ailleurs pas s'il n'est pas un peu osé de l'écrire ici compte tenu de la perspicacité supposée du FSB ( FBI russe).
- Compte tenu de ces difficultés (et surcoût soit 600€) administratives et la reprise du job pour Antoine, il n'est pas souhaitable d'amener Antoine sur cette mission un peu hasardeuse, qui plus est avec un drone et matos vidéo. Pareil pour Benjamin de Singapour qui ne peut pas se permettre d'avoir des problèmes de Visa. Je vais donc partir SEUL retrouver Evgeniy et son pote vers le 15 Août pour 50h de bagnole vers le Nord pour Mezen ! Ensuite, 6-8h de petit bateau pour rejoindre une autre rivière !
- Hubert Chanson en Australie m'a envoyé une traduction des études hydrographiques de M. Reneike de 1860, qui parle d'une "lame de 6 pieds de haut"
Alors, Davaï = c'est parti !
Eugène vient de dénicher un surfer local de la région d’Archangelsk ! Il arbore les couleurs Pomor sur sa planche home-made ! Tel un mammouth sorti de la glace !
This project collects in € (EUR) but you can still invest in the currency of your country (your bank may apply exchange fees).