Growing up in Cornwall, surfing should be in my bones. The ocean and the tides and the swell are all things that I am expected to live and breathe. I do not. I fiercely hate the sea & water that doesn’t reach a steamy degree sends me into a fit of shivers within seconds. Give me glaciers and snow and icy winds any day, but water is my nemesis.
With this in mind, and in the name of proving that Great Britain is more than it is given credit for, I spent a stormy Wednesday morning in early October trying my hand at standing up on a board on Perranporth Beach.
There were three of us taking a lesson with Perranporth Surf School, myself and a couple who were holidaying in Cornwall after the main rush of tourists had gone home.
We were all given wetsuits, introduced to our instructor, James, and paired up to carry our Swell boards to the beach. Perranporth Surf School’s winter base is at Bathsheba Surf Shop, on the north end of the high street, so we had a little bit of a walk to the beach, but not far.
We carried our boards to the edge of the water, lined them up with our backs to the sea, facing James, and were given a quick crash course in how to jump up on our boards and catch a wave in on our bellies – no attempting to stand just yet!
After twenty minutes it was time to go back onto the sand to be shown how to paddle and jump up onto our feet.
I’ve got to say, I wasn’t quite as useless as I thought I was going to be, and did manage to stand a few times, although they almost always ended up with my head under water!
The waves that day were big, regular and addictive – by the time we got out the water, although my arms were aching from pushing myself up and body totally exhausted, I was warm, filled with adrenaline and wanted to get back in straight away. Looks like the guys at PSS might have changed my mind about this whole cold water thing!
A special thanks to James, our instructor, for being a beacon of positivity and encouragement throughout the lesson!
Lessons start from between £27.50pp and £18pp, depending on group size.
So, why surf in the UK?
Okay, so the weather may not exactly be tropical, and there are significantly less palm-trees lining our shores, but with over 20,000 miles of coastline, dotted with world-class breaks, GB is a surprisingly great place to start surfing. Also, it’s fun! No other reasons needed!
With an incredibly varied coastline and almost every imaginable kind of beach and reef set-up available the UK and Ireland offer a huge variety of waves to the surfer prepared to suffer cold in the winter and a regular battering from strong coastal winds. North Cornwall and Ireland offer the most consistent coastlines, although the variety of rock reef and dominant offshore winds in the North East make the most of every drop of swell. While a shallow continental shelf drains a little power from incoming systems the North Atlantic in winter is the most prolific swell generating area on the planet so with a little imagination waves can be found almost everyday outside the less consistent mid summer months.-
– Magic Seaweed
So, whatcha waiting for?