Wednesday, 10 February 2016


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I wrote this in July 2012 and posted it on 'The Inertia'.
Decided it was time to re-home it here on Kernowkalling.

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Surf Bathing at Perranporth c.1925 - courtesy: Francis Frith Collection

The other day I was having a leisurely chat with my neighbour – we had thoroughly dissected the local surf scene, discussed our fantasy boards (yet again) and bemoaned the recent weather as English people always do. The conversation then took a slight swerve when he asked if I’d done much surf travel.

Although by no means could I be considered an accomplished adventurer it turned out that compared to him I’d visited a lot more countries and surfed a few of the known hot spots around the world. He immediately asked where I thought the best place for surf was. It’s a good question and I imagine he was expecting me to rave about Indo or Fiji or Australia. But despite never having really given it much thought before, it took me only a moment or two to come up with an answer.

“Here.” I said, smiling when his laughter morphed into a look of bewilderment as he realized I actually wasn’t joking.

In fact, I’m quite serious when I say that the waves I get here in Cornwall are better than those I got in Indo or Fiji.

“What!” I can almost hear you cry, “How can surf in England ever be compared with Bali?” Hard to believe I know, but bear with me as there is a certain logic to my argument. Basically it all boils down to the numbers. I’ve surfed thousands of waves at home compared to the few dozen or so I scored on trips to Indo or the Canaries for example. As enjoyable & memorable as those trips were, the sheer volume of waves I ride at my local beaches tips the probability of scoring those occasional primo stand-out sessions heavily in favour of doing so right here at home.

From my house I can be in the water and paddling out within 20 minutes of noticing that the wind has suddenly dropped off. Such reasonably instant access combined with a little local knowledge has rewarded me with some of the best sessions I’ve ever had. Anywhere. OK, it may not be crystal-clear, overhead barrels in warm tropical waters, but compared to the few times when I was lucky enough to actually score waves like that – I’ve had countless other sessions that offered just as much stoke within a few miles of my front door… Glassy sunset surfs with just a friend and I swapping waves. Long peeling walls running for a hundred metres shared with dolphins and seals. Perfect turquoise peaks zippering across soft sand bars on a pushing tide. Big & bouncy, swooping faces that got the adrenalin well and truly fizzing. Classic windless dawnys with nobody else even on the beach, etc, etc. The list goes on and on.

Significantly I haven’t had to spend loads of cash or leave my family behind to trek half way around the world with no guarantee that there will be waves waiting for me at journeys end either. Plus, I’ve also been surprised so many times by seemingly borderline conditions turning out to be great sessions that I’ve learned to never discount those times as opportunities to score some fun either.

So, all things considered, maybe the notion that sometimes the best surf in the world is right on our own doorstep isn’t as far-fetched as it sounds.

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