Why Calcutta’s Ganges might have the world’s best river waves

India's Ganges River has again produced perfect waves. Last year, GrindTV talked to French surfer and adventurer Anthony "Yep" Colas about his first ever trip to Calcutta to surf a tidal bore he called The Baan. While that virgin mission was successful, Colas told GrindTV, "There is so much more out there, and now that we have better boats organized, we are super keen to go back."

“Yep” was true to his word and this March he was part of a nine strong team that returned to surf the bore they had named after the German motorway. "I managed to convince Brazilian Sergio Laus, who is an expert of the Brazilian bore known as Pororoca, to come," says Colas. "We planned the trip around March 21, which was a supermoon and would see the highest tides on the river in 20 years."

The tide and the current of the river causes a wave several feet high to form on the bar that crosses the width of the river; and which then travels at speeds of up to 20 mph for 30 miles inland. After securing a few boats and a jet ski (no easy task when the closest boats to hire were a five hour drive away), the crew surfed the Baan for almost a week.

"For six continuous days, we would leave around 9am, cruise downriver and play with the Baan waves that were as big as 10 feet high for two hours, before making it back to Calcutta," said Colas.

Locals get a closer look at The Baan, before running for safety. All photos by Yep Colas

Locals get a closer look at the Baan, before running for safety. All photos by Yep Colas

Thousands of locals would line the shore, cheering the surfers as they surfed down the Ganges. "It was a special feeling, and at the end of the week we gave one of the boards to the young kids who wanted to learn," says Yep. "It is seen as a holy river that will clean their soul and make them stronger; however, with all the raw sewage, dead bodies and silt, I find it hard to believe it cleans much at all. Then again, maybe it is holy, as it's a miracle none of our party became ill."

During the week, the team surfed some of the biggest and best tidal waves ever seen, until chaos struck. "On the peak day with the biggest tides our boats got stuck on a very shallow part and got hit by the Baan head wave," says Colas. "One boat capsized and one surfer, Masatoshi Ohno from Japan, and a photographer were thrown in the water. The photographer's gear was saved, but the outboard engine was wrecked."

Sergio Laus on a Baan beauty.

Sergio Laus on a Baan beauty.

That was small damage though compared to the general mayhem the Baan caused the locals. "Unfortunately, that day one quay collapsed, three local boats were shipwrecked, while five people were reported missing and presumed drowned," says Colas.

Colas with a the keen locals.

Colas with the keen locals.

Despite the dead bodies and the chaos that comes from surfing a high speed tidal bore through a population of 15 million, Colas isn't done yet. "The tidal basin of the Ganges Delta is as big as the Amazon," he says. "While it may be infested with crocodiles and disease, I'm positive there are bigger, and better, waves to be discovered."

The lads gets a lift back to base in Calcutta.

The lads gets a lift back to base in Calcutta.

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