Surfing Borneo’s tidal waves

Jack Rodolico By Jack Rodolico

The Batang Lupar River in Malaysian Borneo is home to two big forces of nature: saltwater crocodiles and tidal bores. Some surfers are willing to brave the former in order to enjoy the latter.

The Canadian Broadcast Corporation’s Maria Bakkalapulo followed a group of surfers up and down the Batang Lupar as they surfed the “danak,” the local name for the tidal bore. The massive wave tears upstream for miles, giving surfers a chance to surf one wave for five to ten minutes. Check out the video below to see pro surfers take on the “Seven Ghosts” tidal bore in Indonesia.

Tidal bores only occur where there is a unique combination of topography and powerful tides. A large incoming tide essentially overtakes a river, forcing a wave against the river’s flow and, sometimes, wreaking havoc as it travels for miles upstream. In extreme cases, a tidal bore can stand over ten feet high and travel for miles before losing energy. Bores are true “tidal” waves, as opposed to tsunamis which are caused by seismic activity.

Surfers frequent the world’s 50 or so tidal bores, including rivers in England, Brazil, Costa Rica and Alaska. There was once a large tidal bore in the Colorado River estuary – just south of the US border – but extensive damming along the river in the US has stilled the wave.

But the danak on the Batang Lupar is as big and dangerous as ever. Click on the link below to listen to the story – and to hear the legend of the saltwater crocodile that turns into the perfect man.

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