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.
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!