Surfing in Cornwall

‘Push!’ ‘Push!’

No, this isn’t a birth scene. These are the shouts of my surfing instructor, Lee, as I desperately try to stand up on the board. In a split second, I topple over for what feels like the 50th time.

No matter how often I plop into the water like a startled manatee, I never remember to close my mouth. As I yelp with fear on the descent, I swallow huge gulps of seawater and my eyes sting with salt. 

Trying to compose myself (and subtly wipe away the globs of snot from my nose) I scramble to my feet in the shallows and plod sheepishly back towards Lee, who’s grinning from ear to ear. 

Lee is one of those healthily sun-kissed, outdoorsy types. He’s a crab fisherman by trade, but is slowly building a surf school that he hopes one day will be his main job. From the crack of dawn, he’s out on the waves, and then he spends the rest of his time teaching kids and grown-ups how to surf and kitesurf. He’s one of the country’s top competitors in the latter. 

I feel like such a townie in comparison. Stripped of brands names and BlackBerrys, I feel exposed. I’m not sure what to say to Lee about the tides or the weather, as I’ve spent the majority of this summer working at a desk. 

As it turns out, our differences don’t matter. Because when you’re waist-deep in the ocean, no one cares what you do for a living or how much rent you pay. It’s simply about being out in the elements together. 

And it’s really good fun. It actually started raining and I hadn’t noticed. Anyone who feels the pressures of London life and the stress of the office needs to get out here and dunk themselves in the waves once and a while. I guarantee you’ll soon forget about the daily grind. 

And how did I get on? Let’s say I didn’t completely embarrass myself. I actually enjoyed a good few instances of standing up on a surfboard. And it felt good. 

There are plenty of surf schools to choose from. I had a brilliant one-to-one lesson with Lee ‘Pasty’ Harvey of Pasty Adventures at Gwithian.  

One of the biggest surfing communities is based around the Newquay area (pictured). I like the Extreme Academy, which is more established (showers and everything!) and tends to teach groups at nearby Watergate Bay.   

To access some of the more secluded beaches you’ll need a car, but if you don’t drive you can take the train. If you ask nicely, Lee may even give you a lift in his pasty van. 

Next time: LDN vs NYC…

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1 Response

  1. I know there are lots of North Sea surfing fans and lots around the UK but it is so freakin cold, just looking at some pix makes me shiver. We take a lot for granted here in Costa Rica surfing, the water is always warm. By all accounts, UK surfers are dedicated enthusiasts

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