The rising tide coming in from Hangzhou Bay is funnelled by the shape of the Qiantang River into the world’s largest tidal bore, a long breaking wave known as the Silver Dragon which sometimes reaches 30 feet.
The tidal bore happens during the spring tide with every full moon, but is strongest in the fall, when the Tide-Watching Festival is held on the 18th day of the 8th month in the Chinese calendar. The festival can attract up to 170,000 tide-watchers and has been celebrated for hundreds of years.
The bore is first seen as a distant sliver of silver far out on the horizon. Then the rushing sound of water, as if a waterfall just got plugged into the aux cable. The body of moving water can reach speeds of up to 40 kmph.
On occasion some years typhoon rains produce waves that crash against the river banks, sucking unsuspecting tourists off the sea walls in its wake. No wonder they call this beast the Silver Dragon.
Well, if ‘once upon a time’ stories are anything to go by, where there’s a dragon there’s some oue donned in chainmail ready to slay it. Turns out there’s a bunch of them from all corners of the globe with two of them being South African. Dale Staples and Shaun Billy Payne are our countries modern medieval knights ready to do battle with the Qiantang. So we got in touch with Dale in between his Instagram stories (well worth a watch) to find out more about the Battle of the Silver Dragon. Please enjoy.
(Zag) How did the practice session go?
(Dale) The practice session was very interesting as the adrenaline was super high with huge expectations but the wave that came through was pretty small and only ran for around 5km because it was the beginning of the tidal wave and it gets bigger every day.
How did you get invited to participate in the event?
Twiggy actually got hold of me and wanted me to join him for the event but unfortunately he had to pull out due to injury so I was asked to get someone to come with me so I chose my good mate Shaun Billy Payne as we have done a lot of surfing with the jet skis and feel comfortable on them.
What was it like arriving in China knowing your gonna surf a massive tidal bore?
It was very exciting because it’s something very unique surfing in a river that only works twice a month with the big tides and we the only people allowed to be on the river, even the Chinese aren’t allowed to swim in the river.
Anything you need to watch out for?
The main thing to watch out for is the river banks because it’s super shallow and a couple of the guys on the training day hit the sand and flipped the skis so that was pretty funny!
What’s the rest of the competition Looking like, are you and Billy feeling confident?
The competition is pretty stacked this year but billy and myself are super amped so hopefully, we get our fair share of waves.
Stay tuned for footage and any updates. For now get a better understanding of what these two saffas are up against below.