Monday, 1 February 2010

Surf or school?

I hadn't planned on surfing in Kent - there didn't seem much point. But by chance the forecast looked fairly good just when I was ready to head south: 7 feet at 8 seconds with an off-shore wind (which is fairly good by South East England standards, where 8 seconds is a looong, looong interval - unlike pretty much everywhere else, where 8 seconds is a shooort, shooort interval).

Inevitably, by the time I got there, the forecast had changed and it was closer to 3 feet at 6 seconds. Not ideal. But having slogged my way there in a van that is decidedly unwell, I thought I might as well go in. So I did. And it was rubbish. Not fun rubbish like in Lowestoft. Just rubbish rubbish. But at least I could say I had gone in.
The next morning, it was even worse. Virtually flat at mid-tide, with little prospect of picking up. From the cliff top, I watched two local lads, already in wet-suits, go to check it out, and thought there was no way they would go in. It was too small to bother getting wet in this weather. Portugal in Spring, maybe. Kent in Winter, not. But minutes later, they were out there. Madness! It still didn't tempt me.

I had spoken to one of them, Ryan, the day before, when he skated down to the car park to check the waves on his long skateboard (the kind I'd like to ride if it didn't make me look and feel like a Sad Old Git.) He hasn't been surfing long and was lying too far back on the board, which was stoppping him getting many waves, so I decided to go down and suggest he move forward. From beach level, the waves looked a lot better. Not great, but ok: about waist high, breaking over the flint reef, and while they didn't have much power, they were jacking up enough at the peak to make them rideable.

So of course I had to run backk and get changed. And it was great! Not a classic session, but enough rides to make it fun.
And kudos to Ryan and his mate Kurosh. Not only were they in without hoods, but Kurosh was wearing a 3mm wetsuit. It's basically a summer suit in freezing North sea water (still about 5º in the water, and about 4º out of the water, plus windchill from a 15mph wind.) I used to wear a 4mm suit in Barcelona in winter, and that was cold enough! Still, they were getting some decent waves, and didn't seem to mind the cold too much. Ahh, the benefits of youth! However Eighty Waves cannot condone bunking off school or college to go surfing. Not unless it's really kicking off, in which case exceptions might be made, provided you fill in a surf-note, in triplicate, and give it to the principal the day before.

This is them, standing in the cold wind still in wet wetsuits. They breed them tough in Kent.

Incidentally, if anyone has been wondering where beach huts go in winter, the answer is they huddle on the cliff top at Joss Bay, waiting to fly south.


Anonymous said...

And what a tip! I am just surfing so much better now, so much more confident, thank you! Hope the rest of your journey is good.. i'm going to keep following you on here :) Saturday really picked up, they were overhead!

80waves said...

Great, glad it was useful!

But overhead??!! Really???


Anonymous said...

yeahh.. they were really big, the biggest i have ever seen at Joss Bay, pretty clean too.