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One wave wonder

By February 22, 2018 Thoughts
One wave wonder

Yep. The title of this post pretty much sums up where I’m at with my surfing right now, and I can’t help feeling disappointed.

The fact that I’ve got back onto my minimal after months of surfing my longboard hasn’t helped. It’s harder to paddle and I have to sit further inside to catch anything – I much prefer getting into the wave early. My upper body strength still sucks and, understandably, going back down in board size is bound to take some getting used to. So my wave count is a lot less.

But there’s one thing that’s really affecting my lack of waves and it’s something that I can totally control. My mindset.

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Kelly says surf…

By April 5, 2015 Escape, Surf more, Thoughts
The day I surfed Harlyn - the best surf of the week.

The day I surfed Harlyn – the best surf of the week.

11 time world champion surfer Kelly Slater once said that to improve at surfing, you have to surf no matter what the conditions. So last week, during my trip to Cornwall, when the surf gods decided to throw a curve ball, I decided to test Mr Slater’s theory.

It’s typical isn’t it? We had booked a week’s trip to Cornwall and in my mind, I was going to surf everyday, check out some new spots and hopefully progress a teeny bit throughout our stay. But we were greeted by rain, wintry temperatures, howling winds and a pretty dismal surf forecast that offered no hope of the onshore mush letting up until near the end of our stay.

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Surfacing…

By June 3, 2014 Escape, Thoughts

DSC01898Last weekend I went surfing and I am still buzzing and stoked! It was the best surfing session and most fun I’d had since embarking on my surfing adventures.

Several factors contributed to this (in no particular order of preference 🙂 …

  • Great conditions for beginners – 1-2ft, mellow waves with a light offshore wind
  • Sunshine, blue skies and toasty temperatures
  • Fantastic company with new friends….and hubby of course!
  • Lovely campsite with brilliant facilities – its a secret spot though, so I wont be sharing details!
  • Opportunity to try out some different boards….one in particular I have fallen in love with!
  • Stand up ratio 95% coupled with the longest rides I have ever had. Woop woop!!

Im not sure if it was the conditions, or the fact that I wasn’t trying too hard and just relaxed into it, but  I really felt that something had clicked. Ok, so I hadn’t been to the gym in a few weeks which reflected in my shockingly bad paddling technique, but I was standing and riding some long, epic waves and having a total blast!

And after everything that had happened over the past few weeks, I reckoned I deserved it, and it did me the world of good. Catching up on Twitter earlier, I saw a tweet which read “There isn’t anything a little time on a board can’t fix.” Thanks to @shelbyleobold for those words of wisdom – how true they are!

But above all, the weekend gave me the opportunity to meet up, for the first time, with my Twitter friend and fellow landlocked surfer @fredrickparkes and his family. I had the privilege of surfing with them and celebrating Mrs Landlocked’s birthday – surfing…what a brilliant way to spend your day! We all shared the stoke, traded tips and even swapped boards. It gave me the chance to try a 9ft longboard…a flaming beauty which helped me to catch my best rides ever. With that extra float and stability, I was popping straight up in a fluid motion. I didn’t want to hand the board back! Mr Landlocked had often commented that “longboards rule” – I totally understand why!

In the car on the way home, I couldn’t stop grinning. It had been such an amazing weekend and I thought about what my Dad would have said if he could have seen me, riding those waves and having fun, which is what its all about. I get it now, in a way that I didn’t before last week. Dad was all for meeting people too – he was one of those people that wherever he went, he knew someone and loved making new friends. That part of his personality is very much with me and I am so grateful for the chance to meet up with @fredrickparkes and his family. All because of our shared passion for riding waves. We will be keeping in touch and hopefully, meeting up again in the not too distant future for another weekend of surfing stoke. Watch out though @fredrickparkes …..don’t leave your longboard unattended!

Things are looking up, and in the words of Bruce Springsteen..”there’s better days shining through.”

 

 

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My surf trip in pictures

By April 19, 2014 Escape

Last week I was in Croyde for a 4-day surf trip. Here’s a little taster of what I got up to……words (and video footage) to follow!

My recent surf trip

My recent surf trip

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Listen to the locals

By November 22, 2013 Escape, Surf more
A few weeks ago, we headed to Cornwall for what could be the last surf of the year…..unless we decide to meet winter head on during the dark cold months of November and December!

Fistral

Fistral

We delayed our trip by a couple of days to avoid the St Jude storm which threatened to batter much of England and Wales. The surf forecast was looking dangerous – 10 ft waves and howling winds and from talking to the locals during our stay, we did the right thing. Only a few, very brave (stupid?) headed out in such conditions and even during our stay, we heard reports of people getting caught in nasty rips and getting swept out – fortunately for them, they were rescued and safely returned to shore.

I was eager to try some new spots. Despite being told to check out Fistral, we headed to Watergate Bay just outside Newquay which, according to several surf guides, is supposed to be ok for beginners. First wave I caught, I was on my feet and riding it all the way in. Woohoo!! Couldn’t believe my luck and I thought I was in for a great session.

Unfortunately, what we didn’t take into account was the extremely strong rip that knocked us both of our feet with its power and ferocity. We were fighting a losing battle and so after an hour we called it quits. Disappointed but not gutted, we had the next day to get a good session in. This time, we listened to the people at the B&B where we stayed who advised us to try Harlyn Bay as it’s a sheltered spot – although the St Jude storm had passed, it was still pretty windy.

We arrived at Harlyn and it was lovely and sunny but, unexpectedly, apart from a lovely looking wave which was breaking so close to the beach, there was nothing to surf. We scratched our heads for a bit and headed back to Mawgan Porth to talk to Pete, the surf instructor to get his take on things. He advised us that Harlyn is ‘a bit gnarly’ and you have to catch it at the right time according to the tide. He also said that when it’s really windy, the best place to head for is Towan Beach in Newquay town which is the most sheltered of all the Newquay beaches. Great, although parking is a real problem and everyone else has the same idea when it’s messy everywhere else. We stopped at Lusty Glaze (a few beaches along from Towan) to check it out but quickly dismissed it when we saw the steep steps at right angles down to the beach – not practical when you have 2 minimals which takes 2 people to carry (one at the noses and one at the tails). By this time, I felt gutted at the thought of heading back home with only one bum surf session to show for it.

Eventually, we ended up at South Fistral which, although was still pretty heavy and had a bit of a rip, enabled us to get some much needed practise. Again, it wasn’t the greatest session (stand up count ration was way down) but it was great just being in the sea and to have surfed a new spot.

The moral of this tale:

  •  Do your homework in advance – read up about the break in advance on the internet or get yourself a surf guide book. Know when your preferred break works best, what the favoured conditions are and find out if its prone to rips
  •  Don’t head to the beach before you have checked what the surf is doing….or not in the case of our trip to Croyde a few weeks ago. Suited up, waxed up, we headed to the beach only to find it as flat as a millpond!
  •  Look before you head out. Im just starting to recognise what a rip looks like!
  • Talk to as many of the locals as possible – they know their local breaks better than everyone. Explain where you are at with your surfing and they can advise on the best breaks for your ability although bear in mind that some will differ in opinion
With less surfing happening over the winter, I need to set myself a new challenge….learn how to read the surf reports!

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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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Shapes of things…

By August 18, 2013 Surf more
For months now, and ever since surfing really took off for me, I have contemplated getting my own board and now, having stood up consistently on a foamie, I reckoned I deserved it.
surfboards

There are hundreds of surfboards out there to choose from in all shapes and sizes and for a beginner looking to make the progression to a non-foam board, the options can be pretty confusing and from my experience, there is no one-size fits all if you are looking to buy from a surf shop.

Take me for example. I am 5ft 3 inches tall and weigh 8st. I struggle to carry and lug big boards around. I sought advice from a number of shops who all told me different things  – some said to go for the maximum length possible, others advised that I could get away with something shorter so who was I supposed to believe?

Beginners are best to learn on a minimal, which is basically a shorter version of a longboard. Minimals are generally anything in the range of 7ft-8ft and give the stability needed to catch waves more easily. They are also generally quite wide (anything from about 21 inches to about 23) which lends itself to stability, and around 2-3 inches thick.

Over the past few months, I have tried several mini-mal options out, including 7ft 2, 7ft 6 and 7ft 10, and it was the best way I found to get an idea of what felt right in the water. I couldn’t stand up on any of them so maybe it wasn’t an exact science, but I learnt a lot more about boards that way than just talking to people in the shops.

Here’s what I learnt:

  • Shorter on the length meant generally a compromise on the width – this meant the board felt ‘tippy’ and I couldn’t get my balance
  • 7ft 10 felt really stable….but I struggled to carry and manoeuvre it
  • Volume is important but this can be achieved through width and thickness and not necessarily length
  • Less rocker, ie. the amount of curve on the bottom of the board from nose to tail, is best for beginners.  Boards with less rocker keep more surface area on top of the water and allow for more speed when paddling and surfing. Minimals are designed to catch waves with ease and so the low rocker makes them more suitable for catching slow waves as opposed to steep hollow ones.
  •  I wasn’t  going to get exactly what I wanted from buying something off the shelf

 

A couple of people had suggested getting a custom board. That way, I could get the exact dimensions that I wanted for the types of waves that I would be surfing. With the added bonus of being able to have the exact design that I wanted, it seemed like the all-round best thing to do – a surfboard which was totally unique to me.

A couple of names had been passed onto me, one of which I had an initial chat with the week before our lesson. An ex-champion surfer who, wouldn’t you know it, was only a 15 minute drive from where we were staying in Mawgan Porth. Seemed like the perfect way to conclude our successful surf trip.

So, the day after our lesson, I went to see a man about a surfboard….

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