Surfers ride out winter storms

Updated 11:05 AM ET, Wed January 8, 2014
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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. GAIZKA IROZ/AFP/Getty Images
American pro surfer Shane Dorian (left) flew in from his home in Hawaii for a rare chance to tackle the Belharra break in France. Laurent Pujol / Billabong
Climatic conditions in autumn and winter see a strong swell hit the Belharra Perdun underwater spur which causes a 10 to 15 meter wave to form. This wave is usually only surfed by experts who are towed out for their rides on jet-skis. GAIZKA IROZ/AFP/Getty Images
Retired footballer Bixente Lizarazu -- a World Cup winner with France in 1998 -- is a keen surfer and ventured out to watch some of the pros in action in Belharra. GAIZKA IROZ/AFP/Getty Images
French female surfer Justine Dupont was one of several professional surfers who traveled to Belharra to wait for a chance to ride the swell. CHRISTOPHE SIMON/AFP/GettyImages
French rider Benjamin Sanchis (center) and American Shane Dorian (right) ride the Belharra waves. Muscle power was required as the pair paddled out to the looming water instead of a jet ski powered takeoff. Laurent Pujol / Billabong
Last year surfing hot spot Praia do Norte in Nazare, Portugal was also graced by mighty waves but this crowd sensibly decided to stay on the shore as the surf broke. Pablo Blazquez Dominguez/Getty Images
Off English shores, a windsurfer braves the elements. Gale force winds and a tidal surge caused widespread flooding in coastal areas of England and Wales. Alan Crowhurst/Getty Images
These waves may be tiddlers for the professional surfers but rough seas off Porthcawl in Wales still attract a local pleasure seeker. Matt Cardy/Getty Images
Extreme sports aren't for everyone. A resident in Somerset, England opts for a serene ride in a canoe to escape the floodwaters. Matt Cardy/Getty Images