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September, 2013

Twice in one week!

By September 4, 2013 Escape, Surf more
Wolvo Surf Crew doing their thing at Woolacombe

Wolvo Surf Crew doing their thing at Woolacombe

It has been a couple of months since the last Wolvo Surf Crew trip so, 3 days after me and Ste collected our surfboards, we all headed back to our familiar stomping ground of North Devon. This time though, instead of Croyde, we decided to try Woolacombe.

It’s a much bigger beach than Croyde, spanning 2 miles and, according to my Surf UK guide and a few people we have spoken to recently, is a bit more forgiving on beginners. Croyde apparently has a very fast ‘dumping’ wave which doesn’t lend itself so well to us kooks and can get very crowded (it’s one of the best surf spots in the UK).

What greeted us at Woolacombe wasn’t exactly what the surf forecast predicted. We were expecting 1-2ft and a light wind but it was more like 3ft+ and very blustery. Something else we didn’t expect was the strong rip current which meant the flags were constantly being moved. This made any attempts to get ‘out back’ nigh on impossible. I decided to leave the boys to it and focus on trying to stand up twice in one week.

Despite the struggles with the rip, I got a couple of really cool, long rides. Stoked!! I was beginning to think that the board was bringing me some good luck but, it was just the change of attitude that I had developed prior to my surf lesson that I think was really helping. By just taking it easy, not getting frustrated, laughing when I wiped out and generally having a brilliant time, I had taken all that pressure off and I think this was reflected in my surfing. Throughout the session my stand up to wipe-out ratio tipped more favourably towards stand up. I was also getting used to the board and just feeling more relaxed in my stance.

Later on, after a break, we moved away from the crowded area of the beach and had a huge expanse of sea to ourselves. The wind had calmed down, the rip had gone and the waves were smaller. We had an amazing time! Me and Ste rode a cool wave in together and by the end of the session, I was getting much quicker at getting to my feet. But, by that point, the tiredness was creeping in and it was time to call it a day.

I took a few things away from this session:

  • Being able to surf twice in one week, although not practical all the time, was hugely beneficial.  If you don’t surf often, it can be like starting again when you eventually hit the water. A lot of the stuff I had worked on earlier in the week was already fresh in my mind 
  • Rip currents are a pain and they can occur anywhere at any break. Instead of fighting it (like I have done in the past!) and wasting valuable energy, get out of the water and re-enter away from the rip
  • Be vigilant about the flags. It’s easy to get dragged out of the black and white flagged area (marked for surfers) and into the bodyboarding area.  When there is a rip, keep your eyes out for the lifeguards moving the flags.
  •  Don’t take the surf forecasts as gospel! MagicSeaweed is widely used but I have heard people say they either love it or hate it. I find that Eyeball Surf check is more reliable for the North Devon spots. Of course, the ideal solution is to understand the waves by looking at them before you head out. When you have to drive 3+ hours to get to your preferred break though, you need to use the forecasts as a guide – no use heading on a trip if it’s like a millpond.

Understanding the waves is something I would love to be able to master. Time to get out my ‘Surf Science’ book!

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Riding the sacred spear

By September 2, 2013 Escape
Collecting our surfboards!

Collecting our surfboards!

Choosing the right person to shape a surfboard is crucial. You have got to feel comfortable with that person, and find someone who is more than happy to answer any questions you have throughout the process, will listen to  what you want and advise you appropriately according to your height, weight, surfing ability and amount of times you go in the water.

I couldn’t have chosen anyone better than British and European ex-champion surfer (and legendary shaper) Nigel Semmens. As well as being an expert, Nigel is a really nice guy who, from the initial chat over the phone welcomed us to visit him at the factory to chat in person. He showed us round, talked us through the process, assessed and advised on the best size and shape boards and really put us at ease. Like he said, a lot of people won’t go to a shaper because they find it intimidating but from our experience, this couldn’t be further from the truth.

Nigel advised me to go for a 7ft 4 x 22 x 2 ¾. I was expecting him to say 3 on the thickness for extra float but as I am not very heavy, I would find 2 ¾ easier to turn and, as Nigel advised, he wanted us to have two boards that were progressive.

After some initial deliberation on artwork, I submitted my final design and just over 2 weeks later, we got the nod to say the boards were ready. The day of collection I was so stoked and when Nigel brought my board out, I had a tear in my eye. I absolutely loved it, it was perfect and I couldn’t wait to ride it….so, an hour later, we were back in Mawgan Porth accompanied by Pete from Kingsurf who was equally as excited about our boards as us.

I honestly wasn’t expecting to stand up and for me, it was more of a ‘getting to know my board’ session. I had never stood on an epoxy or fibreglass board before so imagine my shock when I rode one in! It couldn’t have been more perfect, getting a cool ride on my new super cool board!

I started to get brave and even went out back. It was just so nice to lie on my board and stare out to sea – so peaceful and calm. Egged on by Pete, I even caught my first green wave and it was amazing!! It felt like I was on a hover board floating above the water.

It was an amazing session which really filled me with confidence. Now I had my own board and could stand up on it, I could call myself a surfer!

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