|Cornwall, land of beachies (mainly).|
So often I've fantasised on what it must be like to have a perfect right-hand point as your local break. Being able to draw long, swooping, joined up, carving lines across waves such as Burleigh Heads or Rincon is surely what surfing is all about.
I'd lament the long paddle-outs and too-short rides that the beach breaks of West Cornwall so often conjure up. Jealous of those surfers, usually in warm waters, growing up with and taking for granted the consistency and perfection that point-breaks bestow on those lucky enough to live near them.
Why, oh why are we geographically damned to skittering across closeouts, double-ups and shore-dumps?
Then, last week I paddled out on a small to medium day on low tide at a long west-facing beach. There were a few peaks at the usual spot under the cliffs, and I snagged a couple of nice lefts. But it was a big spring tide, and within 20 minutes the peak was already getting shifty and being negated by the tide's return.
I paddled up the beach to where a handful of surfers were making the most of some rights that, although a little quick and dumpy, were still fun with the occasional one that kept some shape and peeled shorewards. But after a couple of those, I found the small crowd off-putting and anyway I'd just spotted another peak that was showing promise a further hundred yards north of the main beach. And with no-one on it. So I paddled off again.
I found myself sitting a little further out, all alone as a set approached. The darkening lump jacked up right underneath me and offered a lovely steep shoulder that quickly became a fast walling right that held up and zipped me nicely across the face. I kicked out and paddled straight back out to the take-off spot. Another set pulsed through, and an almost exact replica right-hander popped up. I couldn't believe my luck. This time as I paddled back out after another sweet ride I was expecting to see a pack break away from the crowd down the beach, drawn to this lovely little peak like ants to a honey pot. But, no. Just me sitting on a bank that was offering up peaky blinders consistently, again and again as the tide slowly pushed up.
After a dozen perfect chest high rights, I was back outside waiting for another set. But this time it bent in at a weird angle which put me facing almost parallel to the shore paddling down the shoulder of another right but actually angling left... But the peak seemed to catch up with itself and the whole wave swept back into place and swung me easily down the line again, fizzing along a clean green wall.
That was the last of it though, the tide must have filled in over the bank because the next set just kind of shrugged its shoulders before settling back down and rippling past in a froth of white water.
I paddled back down the beach and headed in. Happy to have scored some really nice little waves all on my own, yet within shouting distance of a half-term crowd. I'd ridden three different peaks, culminating in a surprisingly good handful of waves that were behaving like they were a reef-break. All in one session, on one stretch of sand.
Beach breaks - gotta love 'em.