Despite living 195 miles away from my favourite surf spot, its totally possible to make it there and back in a day. It’s an early start, a lot of driving and tiring, but so worth it and ideal for taking advantage of ideal conditions at the last minute.
So last week, when the North Devon surf forecast showed 3-4ft and light offshore winds for Saturday, it was the perfect opportunity for a spontaneous day trip!
After a 3 and a half hour journey (which included the essential McDonalds surf trip breakfast!), we arrived in Braunton for a pre-surf mooch in the shops. Ever since I had a go on @fredrickparkes longboard last year, and particularly with Corinne Evans’ recent advice about getting one to help with my pop-up, I wanted to get some advice.
First stop was Surfed Out which has a reputation for providing honest and excellent advice. Owner Glen, a longboarder himself advised me, for my height and weight, to try a performance longboard – not as wide as a typical log but still stable enough to catch anything, turn and trim. Lucky for me, Glen had a demo board – a 9′ Cross pintail beauty with single fin and side bites – which he let me borrow to have a go: ideal!
With the board on the car, we headed to Saunton. Awaiting us were some lovely slow peeling 3ft waves – perfect conditions for longboarding. The first wave I went for, I was up and riding as if I had surfed the board so many times before. It felt so effortless and it was love at first wave!
Usually I hesitate and take far too much time in between waves and I don’t know if our limited timescale had anything to do with it, but I decided to go for as many waves as possible – whitewater and green, I wasn’t picky. The result was what I would describe as by far the best surf session I have ever had! My wave count was high, I popped up countless times without going to my knees, I got some beautiful long rides and even trimmed across the waves. My balance felt solid, the board turned so effortlessly and I was stoked beyond belief! All the advice I had been given – get yourself a longboard, practise your pop-up at home, build your upper body strength – all came together and validated the amazing session I had.
I was shocked when we got out and found out that we had been in the sea for 2 and a half hours which was the longest we had ever been out. Time had just flown by and, thanks to all my efforts in the gym, my stamina was firing – pre gym days, I would have lasted just 30 minutes before calling it a day.
I felt a bit guilty getting changed on the car park afterwards as I looked on the roof rack at my minimal which hadn’t even made it down to the beach. I was so in love with the longboard that I had already decided to buy it. But I will never ever part with my minimal – its my first surfboard and I have fond memories of the process of talking to Nigel and getting it made. It’s part of me, and part of my surfing journey, and despite the desire for a longboard, the mal will remain in the quiver for bigger days and a time when I can pop-up really well and consistently so that I can consider come back down in board size…maybe.
Back at Surfed Out, I was buzzing when I described the session I had to Glen. He was so enthusiastic and stoked for me when I told him how I got on with the board…and not because he wanted a sale out of me. Glen loves surfing, full stop and is genuinely stoked to hear of surfers having a great time on the waves – I have seen it numerous times before and even experienced it myself when all I purchased from him was a block of surf wax. He was genuinely surprised when I said I would take the board.
As part of the package, I will get an hour’s longboarding tutelage with Josh who also works in the shop. Once upon a time he ditched his shortboard for a log and hasn’t looked back since. He’s will go through the variation of the fin set up, what the board can do and hopefully, what I will be able to do – this includes cross stepping the correct way and maybe even some trips to the nose! An induction into the art and world of longboarding – I can’t wait!
After loading the board onto the roof, it was time for a quick bite to eat in The Thatch before the 195 mile journey home. Sounds a lot but with a quiet motorway ahead of us, a hot chocolate pit stop and feeling so stoked after an amazing day, we were home by 9.30pm.
It was an amazing day and reminded me just how much fun spontaneous day trips can be – I just don’t know why our past promises of more frequent day trips fell by the wayside. I will be paying more attention to the forecasts in future and if the conditions look good, I won’t even hesitate. Recent experiences have taught me that life is just too damn short not to do the things we enjoy. Surfing is my passion and although I live miles from the sea, I will surf at every opportunity I can get my hands on