Weekend before last was a cracker for weather and waves, a small reasonably groomed swell, very light winds and some spring time sunshine made it feel like a mini summer. I hope everyone got in and had some fun. I managed a few hours in the water on my simmonsy thing in little thigh to waist high walls and was grinning from ear to ear when I got out – sun and surf will do that to you, oh and I wasn’t wearing a hood either….!
Now we’re back to cold and wet westerlies and the jackets are back on when out and about, let’s hope the next spell of pleasant stuff comes along shortly.
I had a real comedy session early last week, largely revolving around my indecision and the reason for my indecision (bad choices drive more indecision)… Knowing when to de-hood has normally been a fairly easy one for me, last few years it’s generally been the last surf in March or certainly the first in April. We’ve normally had a spell of warmer stuff by late March and the sea temp creeps up to a level where it’s a little ice creamy on the noggin as you duck dive but quite bearable. Then usually it’s a steady path to de-rubbering right up to June when you’re back in a nice thin 3/2 with no boots or gloves to weigh you down until the cold comes calling all too soon sometime in autumn.
However this year has been a bit of a different beast, the winter has been long(er than usual!) and really drawn out – prolonged by months of prevailing easterly wind which gave with one hand and took with the other. It gave us offshores making the most of the North Atlantic’s winter juice but took away any warmth the normally prevalent south westerlies provide keeping our shores just the right side of arctic for most of the winter, instead we were experiencing fun temperatures such as 1 and 4 degrees celcius in the middle of April.
So the hood has stayed on, continuing to encase my face in neoprene a little longer which brings me back to last week’s go out. I hit one of the Bude town beaches at first, it was sunny, the temperature had crept into double figures and I was thinking this could be the start of spring…. that hood can come off soon maybe? I hit the water in full gear (yeah the hood was on), it didn’t feel too cold but the waves were poor, shapeless sucky 2-3ft low tide closeouts crashing in 1ft of water. This is not fun. After 20 minutes or so of looking for an open face I retreated, still in full gear and drove to Widemouth in the hope of finding a bank that was working there.
This looks more promising, not great but there were definitely some walls on offer if you were in the right spot. I’d taken the hood off for the drive and the air was welcomingly mild. This is it. No hood. Ear plugs in, jogging to the shoreline, first no hood surf of the year – lovely stuff! It’s not too big so I shouldn’t have to worry about duck diving. Oh a set’s coming, duck, Ahhhhhhhhhwwwwwgghhhhhh!! The first one was quite bad, grabbing my head in a cold vice like grip but I thought I could shake it off. Two more duck dives followed before I was in the sanctuary of the outside although my head felt like an ice cube. I’d already messed about this session by switching spots but I knew if I didn’t get a wave in and get my hood my cold head would distract me for the rest of the sesh. So I caught the next wave in and feeling like a right bell-end retreated to the van for some head warming rubber. I ended up getting a few fun waves during the remainder of the then hooded session but nothing to crow about…. Certainly one of those outings where you’re thinking “This is a lot of bloody effort for a couple of cold ones (waves not beers)!”
Having said all this it’s been sunny and even hot at times for much of this week and there’s some swell on the way for the bank holiday weekend. I think it’s time to try no hood again…..
This shot was from the last groundswell we had in the South West a couple of weeks ago, waves were chest high and walling up really nicely. Water still crazy cold for approaching mid-April and I was still fully clobbered up in 5mm and a hood (normally hoodless by this time of year) but that never seems to matter much when there’s no wind and the waves are that fun. The short and porky Cre8tion Pepperjelly was going like a dream on the couple of peeling rights I had, starting to feel how to rock the board from rail to rail using the vee along the tail for smooth transitions, it can be tricky as the tail is so wide but once you get in a rhythm it feels very natural and you can really maintain some speed harnessing all that foam. Foam is fun.
A few phone snaps from Croyde during the big October ex-hurricane Rafael swell, the light was great and the waves some of the most well groomed I’d ever seen, think the buoys were showing something like 4ft @ 20 seconds that morning!
Need some of that sunshine now… really looking forward to spring.
High tide Sandymere on Saturday was a weird one, I knew the tide was going to be high enough for some horrid backwash capers at about 9.30am so I planned fully to be in the water for before 8 to catch the last of the push for what was a really nice swell and almost no wind. However I made the mistake of dismissing my morning alarm instead of snoozing… dedication for you! So by the time I got to the beach it was nigh on high tide (top pic is when I arrived, bottom pic shows improving wave shape after I got out as the tide receded), I couldn’t be arsed to drive elsewhere so had an hour and a half trying to get into some steep to fat to steep to fat backwashy ones. Had one interesting air drop in an otherwise fairly un-noteworthy session. Great to see the sun breaking through though and giving rise to a run of more settled weather and more clean waves on the horizon this week, there’s a whiff of spring in the air and I for one can’t wait for things to warm up a little bit!
A few really fun little waves at Saunton yesterday, the weather was terrible with a lot of rain and wind pushing around the air however the waves were waist and a bit high on the sets (photo is not a set wave!) and most of them were really peeling down the line giving some fairly long right handers. Feel like I’m getting a lot better at surfing pro-actively now rather than just reacting to the wave face I’m now looking for sections more and making more premeditated carves – looking forward to some more clean waves now to continue improving and by the looks of the forecast I shouldn’t have to wait long!
Photography & Thoughts on Surfing, Cycling, Football and Some Other Crap