Friday, 27 June 2014

Come on in, the water's lovely

Seventeen degrees! Seventeen degrees! That's the water temp right now. A figure that we'd normally only expect to hit come late July / August. But June? The world's gone crazy. I was chatting to one of the wetsuit manufacturers only the other day and he was saying how the buying trend of the 2014 surfer has been to bypass the summer wetsuit and go straight from a winter suit to a shortie. I know I've done exactly that. The water has warmed up unbelievably quickly. Far quicker than I can ever remember. When I go out on the paddle board I just wear shorts. Who'd a thought it eh?

Our website has just been updated. Well done to Avian and Elle, that was a big job but I think we're just about there. 

The super bank at the top of the beach remains. Get a big clean swell and a big tide and that could be all time.

There's debate within mission control as to when our 20th anniversary is. We started in 1995 so if that was our first year, by right's at the end of this one, we'd have done 20 seasons. I'm gunning for a celebratory Foamie Fest over the October half term to mark the occasion! Time to dust down the guitars!

Speaking of a long time ago, the house that we now know as the Surf's Up! Surf Centre was the third building ever to be built in Polzy! A client sent me this photo.. I love that photo. I've still got that hat!

Stuart ("four right") and Amanda who started up the Cone Zone at about the same time as we started the surf school, have taken a part share in Surfside, the cafe across the far side of the beach. Despite many valiant attempts it's proved to be a tricky place to get right. But I think this time, they may just have nailed it. Steak and Lobster, that's all they do! A simple concept for the pleasure of which you'll be charged like a wounded Rhino but reviews are sky high and I for one can't wait to have a crack at one of those whoppers. Good luck to them and hope to see you there.

A whirly bird would be the preferred method of entry in to or exit out of Cornwall right now. Seems there's a massive effort to repair or relay tarmac. Credit where credit's due. Easy to get frustrated in the jam, but there's never a good time and they needed sorting. 

We have surf!

We have surf! There was none and now we have some. Where before there was calm, we now have moving lumps. Where's it come from, the surf? Good question. Let's have a stab at an answer. Okay Craskie, time to go to work... surf instructor mode... go! "Hey dudes. Ready to grab the sticks and drop some bombs. Surf is life, the rest is details. Stoked man!" And back in the room. I have no idea what just happened to me then. Now let's start at the beginning, it's a very good place to start.... so ray me! Let's put aside big tides and earthquakes etc and focus on the type of waves that most commonly arrive on our beach. It's like this. The good ones come from way, way out in the Atlantic from depressions (cheer up) or as they're often known, low pressure systems (LPSs - I may be the first person to ever call them LPSs or is it LPS's? Tough call). These are created by the combo of the earth spinning and the rise and fall of pockets of air either cooling or warming. We'll save the details for another time.

We'll do this my way. Imagine if you will for one moment that you're lying in a bathtub half way between Polzeath and New York. (If you're reading this in your rubba dub dub then please follow instructions in brackets). You're in the middle of a deep depression, an LPS. It's windy, very windy (Go "whoooooo"). And the sea is rough, very rough. (slide up and down in a carefree manner, observe duck bobbing and weaving). There's thunder (bang on the side of the bath, plastic is preferable for this, ceramic is not). And lightening. (Ask partner, to flick light switch off and on.) You're scared and feel vulnerable, the tub is filling with water. (Shout at partner, don't just stand there, grab something and start bailing!"). Hello, are you still there? You see, LPS's produce windy unsettled conditions. And it's the waves produced in these storms that travel all the way from the mid Atlantic and eventually end up on our shores. Whereupon we say thanks very much, I think I'll ride a few of these, do you mind? 

Now just because these waves are heading in our direction doesn't mean to say that the quality of the wave will be any good when it lands. No. Because ideally, in a perfect set up what we need is a lovely light offshore breeze. Let me introduce to you the alternative pressure system to the Low pressure system (LPS). Say "Hi" to the High Pressure System, or HPS as we'll know it from now on.  Time to go imagining again. This time you're lying on your lilo. It's a glorious day, hardly enough of a breeze to blow you from the shallow to the deep end of the local lido. Calm water. Not a cloud in the sky. Typical weather for an HPS. Slip, slap, slop. Lovely.

How do we combine the two pressure systems to make the best surf? We want a good storm out to sea, an LPS, and we want it to stay there for a good few days. Give it time to send those waves our way. And waiting on the beach with any luck we'll have a nice big high pressure system puffing the lightest puff of air out to sea, so that when those waves come to rest their weary heads on the sandy bed we can hold them up, just long enough to crank out a few top and bottom turns. Nirvana. Please note that in the summer, on a particularly hot day, we may get a sea breeze from late morning to early afternoon. This will switch the wind from off to onshore for a few hours. If you've ever wondered why surfers get up early, there's your answer. Very few have proper jobs to go to!

Local wind affects the shape of the wave.. an onshore wind will topple the top of the wave over early, making it less powerful and unpredictable. Better than nothing, but not ideal. Offshore winds hold the wave up, creating a lovely face to ride. The state of tide can affect the waves. Commonly a tide that has just started to flow, can increase the size of the waves. 

Here endeth today's lesson. Hope it makes sense. Hope it's been useful. 

Thursday, 26 June 2014


Phew, couldn't get into the blogger account this morning! Not a great start to the day... well I say that but three hot oeufs and a good wishy wash with a soapy loofa and normal service has been resumed. Surf on the small side again today... it happens from time to time, but the corner is about to be turned. Waves are a heading in this direction and like you, we're itching to wax up those sticks again and tuck into a few sucky wedges. Looking at that new sandbank at high tide, that's exactly what we're going to get....sucky wedge action.

When your chosen sport relies on the combo of planet rotation and the flap of a California Tortoiseshell wing some three thousands miles's no wonder that from time to time the surfing conditions may not match your expectations or needs. Can you imagine waking up and finding 4ft clean surf everyday? We can dream. The reality is that our progress is determined not just by physical ability but by what we find as we draw back the curtains each morning. If it's flat, it's flat and that's the end of it. Doesn't matter if you've taken the week off especially...there's no-one you can blame (although I suggest that all complaints be sent to the Cornwall Council) just have to make the most of what's there.

And what do I mean by that? Well, I'm a big believer that small wave surfing (it's very rarely completely flat) is good for your development. If you look at the best surfers on the beach, the dudes who surf the biggest waves, make the steepest drops and tightest turns, the one's we all aspire to surf like, they're the same ones who are out there when it's ankle snappers. See, like they do, that the small days are part and parcel of your development and you'll up your game. For example, if you need to sharpen up your take off.... catching loads and loads of smaller waves will see you nail it much quicker than catching one or two big ones. Learning to trim the board is also a good one to practice.   Put too much weight on the tail and you'll simply stop. I'm not saying that catching and riding small waves is living the dream. It's not. But come the day, come the day when you drive down into the valley and see stretched out before you a faultless corduroy'll be ready to make the most of it. And that's the key to progress, it's all in the preparation. If you just surf the good days, expect your progress to take a bit longer.