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Surfers ride the storm in Europe

updated 12:01 PM EST, Thu January 9, 2014
Winter storms in Europe have brewed big waves off some of the continent's surfing hot spots. The swell at famous surf spot Belharra, two kilometers off the French coast, saw some of the sport's top names fly in from around the world. Winter storms in Europe have brewed big waves off some of the continent's surfing hot spots. The swell at famous surf spot Belharra, two kilometers off the French coast, saw some of the sport's top names fly in from around the world.
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STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Surfers travel from around the world to ride the waves caused by recent European storms
  • The low pressure system has caused the so-called "Black Swell"
  • French surf hot spot Belharra was a magnet for surfers
  • The stormy waters in the U.K. and Ireland have also attracted surfers

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(CNN) -- When the eye of the storm closes in most people head home -- but for surfers intent on riding out the waves of the winter storms it's a different story.

Europe may have escaped the icy touch of the "Polar Vortex" which has ravished the U.S. but storms on the continent have rung in the new year with widespread flooding and disruption.

For hardcore surfers this is a time of feast not famine; they are having a swell time.

The low pressure systems sweeping in off the Atlantic have had surfers chasing the so-called "Black Swell," with world class athletes travelling to the west coast of France to ride the waves blooming off the famous Belharra reef in Basque Country.

How water 'energizes' historic surfer
Chasing the next big wave

American Shane Dorian packed his bags and hopped on a jet from Hawaii to join some of Europe's top surfers, including Justine Dupont and Benjamin Sanchis, for a once in a lifetime chance to master the big Belharra swell.

"Belhara take me to your arms," wrote Sanchis on his Facebook page, while Dorian quipped: "paddled into a few at #Belharra today in the south of France."

Although the waters peaked during the night, Dorian and his cohorts were still able to enjoy a surf session at a spot where surfers normally need to be towed out to the colossal waves by jet skis.

French 1998 World Cup winner Bixente Lizarazu, a keen surfer since hanging up his football boots, also took to the water at Belharra.

On the west coast of Ireland, stormy weather and whopper waves attracted a huddle of surfers to sweet surf spot Mullaghmore Head.

Across the water, the U.K. has battened down the hatches against high winds and heavy rain but even in the comparatively smaller waves lapping the British coast intrepid surfers ignored the safety advice of the Met Office to brave the waters.

It seems if the surf's up then the hardcore ride wavers are out are amongst it.

Read: The biggest wave ever surfed

Read: Kiteboarders evade shark

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