Wow 2017, you’ve been a good one…
At the start of the year I had a goal with my surfing. It was a long term aim and I soon realised that I’d been unrealistic with it. A bit like going from zero to 100, I wanted to get to where I wanted to be…within a year.
I’m finishing the year not having reached that goal. But by striving for it, I’ve struck gold with a fair few gems of achievement along the way.
Aim for the moon
A very wise surfer recently reminded me of a quote, “Aim for the moon and if you miss you may land among the stars.” Which is what he did on his way to way to trying to qualify for the World Surf League. Despite not achieving that goal, he still went on to become British national champion…three times.
So whilst I haven’t reached my moon (consistently dropping into shoulder high waves, sorting out my pop-up on unbroken waves, bottom turning and cruising along the open face – additional turns would be a total bonus!), I did land among some amazing stars!
My little stars
Looking back now, I can see just how far I’ve come in 12 months. It doesn’t always feel like it, especially if I look at it in isolation, but when I wrote down what I actually achieved, I felt pretty proud of myself:
Photo of me on a shoulder to head high wave
I still get a buzz from looking at it and recalling the feeling. A perfect day in dreamy conditions at North Fistral. Massive confidence booster!
More consistent and confident in getting out back
A year ago I was kind of teetering on going out back and only on a super small day. I always thought twice about it too. Now I don’t give it too much of a second thought (unless its head high – that’s my current cut off point!).
Dreamy lefts at Fistral
Caught the steepest wave of my life
Surfing Polzeath at surf club got me addicted to mellow waves. But it’s nowhere near my closest break so I started surfing more locally on some hollower waves. Steep drops scare me but my god they’re bloody amazing when you score one! Luckily it was quiet and no-one heard me shout ‘oh shit!’ as I shot down the open face. Incredible wave!
Joined a surf club
Surf club did wonders for my confidence and progression and ensured I got in the surf at least once a week. I met some amazing women and fell in love with longboarding.
Corrected my pop-up in the whitewater (consistently)
Before surf club, I’d written my pop-up off completely, but after getting back on a foamie and practising consistently, I nailed it. I just need to lose this mental block I have with going to my knee on an unbroken wave because I CAN do it.
Surfed the Bay on my own
Sounds daft but I seriously had a thing about surfing ‘the Bay’ (Towan, Great Western) on my own. I found it quite intimidating until the first time I did it. It wasn’t a big deal, I didn’t get in anyone’s way and no-one called me a kook. Bonus!
Paddled out in overhead surf
I would never attempt this on my own but when I’m with an instructor who I know will save me from death if needed, I’ll now have a go at some pretty solid surf. I attempted this twice – the first time I made it (with a long gap in between the sets). The second time I wasn’t so lucky. I got caught inside, ran out of steam so bodyboarded a wave back into the beach.
Caught head high waves
Again, I would never attempt this by myself. But over the summer, I caught two of these beauties – one captured on camera, the other experienced on a fun afternoon in Mawgan Porth with Pete from Kingsurf. I didn’t come down for weeks afterwards!
Caught the best waves of my life
I didn’t know exhilaration like it until this year. The best waves I can still feel and recall and there’s 3 of them. The first shoulder high wave I caught at surf club when I was pretty terrified but got the ride of my life on the other side of fear. The second was THAT left at Fistral (and subsequent photo). The third was the steepest drop I’d ever taken at a very uncrowded Mexico’s just a few weeks ago. (Mexico’s the surf spot, not the country – I wish!).
Mexicos, Gwithian Beach
Surfed new spots
I don’t like surfing the same beaches all the time. I love the adventure of exploring and hunting waves, so to surf a new spot is all part of the excitement. Holywell Bay, Mexico’s and Perranuthnoe all played a part in this year’s surf adventures.
Surfed my first point break
Although Cornwall has tons of beach breaks, there’s a few reefs and point breaks around. Some are known, others less so. My first point break, a fun left is not so well known, so I’m keeping quiet.
Did a week’s intensive surf course
I had an amazing week with Surf Sistas and although we had storms and howling winds, we found a lot of shelter and some great waves! I met some lovely ladies and corrected a bad habit of mine which several people had picked up on during the past year…
Corrected my arm position
…which leads me nicely onto this. I had a habit of hanging my arms down by my side which was never going to help with turning. Everytime I’m out in the surf now, I hear Dom from Surf Sistas in my ear yelling ‘arms’!
Got over my fear of longboards
My longboard was covered in dust until May this year. At 9ft (I’m only 5’ 3 and don’t weigh a lot), I was pretty scared of it. But when George at Surf Club suggested I use it to correct my pop up, I fell in love with it. I can zoom out the back on it and get into waves super early.
Although I don’t have dreams of hanging ten or nose riding, I’ll continue to have a lot of fun on it and mix it up with my mal for now.
So what next? Who knows! I’ve learnt a hell of a lot this year, including not setting unrealistic expectations. In 2018, I’ll be going with the flow, being kinder to myself in the process and letting things happen as they’re suppose to. No big goal setting and absolutely no pressure. I want to get back to why I started surfing to begin with – to have fun and enjoy the ride!