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Montreal, River Lachine, Thunderball (Ginette)

Playspot: Canada, Quebec, Montreal, River Lachine, Thunderball (Ginette).

What's it like

In spring, Thunderball is HUGE. It's a two part hole, with the surfers-right called Pinball. Pinball is a fairly controllable spot, that can be cartwheeled in both directions, but it prefers left. Thunderball is a huge, churning mother of a hole that will slap you about like you've never been slapped. It's hard to control, and you usually just hang onto your paddle for all it's worth. You can 'set up' on the surfers-left corner for a cartwheel, but you can expect either to flush or get belted (the latter most of the time). It's very hard to move about the hole (get to the corners). An uncontrolled cartwheel session will quickly flush.

In late summer, the water drops from 500.000 to about 250.000 cfs. Pinball becomes slightly shallower, and you can hit the rock. Thunderball splits into two holes, with a seam in the centre. The left hole is still hard to control, as you tend to flush while setting up, provided you can climb out of the pit to set up at all. The right hole has seams on both sides. The hole itself is a munchy little number and can be very retentive (very). In longer boats (8 ft), super controlled 20 point cartwheels to the left can be done over and over, and about half as many ends can be had to the right (the right seam is harder to deal with). You can split both ways, and basically go nuts, but the longer boats can hang up, and result in some powerful windowshades/loops slappings. In smaller boats like the 007, it's harder to get more than about 10 consecutive ends in the seam as you flush, but if you keep the repetition low, and split every few ends, you can keep it going for ever! Short boats tend to bounce more and the beatings are severe if you loose control.

Some pointers:

  1. Have a dry boat. The eddy is the suck back of the hole (you are right in the middle of a very wide river). Once your boat fills, you have to paddle down.
  2. No skirt popping to sponge out here. You have to roll fast to make the eddy (well, suck back).
  3. Be in great shape. You never really get to rest. You are paddling upstream the whole time you are waiting for your turn. It's harder in spring.
  4. A swim is a very bad idea. No matter how much you're getting belted, DO NOT SWIM. It's a very long way to the bank, there are some very big holes downstream that you don't want to be swimming through and there is a good chance you'll not see your boat again.
  5. If you're really ballsy, you can wavewheel into it.

How to get there

Take the Champlain bridge on highway 15 into Montreal and then the exit Atwater (next to the Riot factory). Take a left under the highway and then the second light onto Verdun. Follow Verdun all the way to the end and then turn right onto La Salle. Follow this to the rapids and park on the parking lot on the left. Paddle to the Lachine wave (See CA, QC) but do not peal out. Instead, ferry out towards the large island in the middle of the river and pull HARD all the way until you get to the wave. If you're out of shape, you'll be nice and tired when you get there, and you haven't even started yet.


Jet boats, jet skis, oil tankers, French women...

Info sources

Corran Addison, [mail address protected from spambots with javascript]

Nearest weather station (°C):



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