Monday, 29 February 2016


"Where the grass is always greener and the tubes are always deeper"

I sometimes wonder what it would be like to go for a surf and actually get barrelled. Utterly and totally tubed, thoroughly pitted, properly shacked, locked deep within the green room.

Watching some footage of Mick Fanning trotting across the sand at Snapper on a summer’s day bought this into sharp focus recently. The shore break and whitewater were heaving with beachgoers and swimmers whilst throaty aqua-green, headhigh barrels spun insanely past just a few metres away. Each perfect keg threaded by a gleeful boardshorted blur.

My own surfing experience is somewhat different.

Not that I don’t wholeheartedly enjoy surfing In Cornwall, I absolutely love it. I haven’t yet had a surf that didn’t bring a smile to my dial. But I can’t help daydream about how it must feel to come in after a surf buzzing from the memory of just having sliced through a couple of sweet tubes.

I try so hard not to succumb to surf envy, yet once again I imagine how amazing it must be to live with barrels on your doorstep and I even begin to question if what I’m doing can even be called ‘surfing’.

Anyway, later that evening I visit my friend Andy and we catch up over a cup of tea. Inevitably talk turns to the sea and a run of great swell we just had. Andy is a really good surfer with a lovely smooth style who hasn’t been out on his surfboard for over a year. Yet he has probably spent more time getting covered up than anyone I know. He told me of a deep tube ride he recently got at Aggie where he even had time inside the barrel to look up and watch the light refracting through the wave above his head before he got spat out cleanly at the end.

And that’s when it hit me. Andy has been getting so many tubes on his bellyboard and handplane that he hasn’t even bothered to wax up his board more than a handful of times in the last 3 years. And he’s a bloody good surfer who always gets what I consider really good waves whenever we’ve surfed together.

Of-course there are barrels in Cornwall - I’ve just been on the wrong equipment for riding ‘em.

Saturday, 20 February 2016


s coast scope
Just checking for future reference...

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.