So the sun is slowly warming things up towards summer and the winter's storms are left behind.
It's not been a banner year for my winter surfing, in fact i think this might have been the least i've surfed in the 13 winters i've spent on the coast. It's not been from lack of swell but from lack of oppurtunity to drive away from the brunt of the storm and find the sheltered nooks, a slight dwindling in the desire to change in a freezing car park in driving rain, to paddle out through lines and lines of whitewater. Perhaps a shying away from the constant low grade misery and grind that is associated with surfing in this country. You have to want it to keep going through the cold and the onshores, to push yourself out into power and size outside your comfort zone.
I'm most definately a small wave surfer and as i get older i think i'm becoming more comfortable with being that and feel less like i have to play the peer pressure games of pub based bravado. I know i wont forget how to surf if i dont get wet for a couple of weeks. It's a perspective and balance that you probably shouldn't show in the heady world of online blogging surf obsession but it serves you better in real life.
Summer is what i look forward to, long hours of light, warmer water, small lined up swells and fun.
It's the Easter Hols, at least it is for school kids, i'm still working with no time off for good behaviour! Living in an area that makes much of it's income from tourism, this weekend tends to mark the beginning of the season. I often think of it being when "the people switch" gets thrown since the contrast can be so dramatic. Winter can be fairly sleepy with little traffic and few people around, especially in places like Woolacombe. As soon as easter comes, so do the throngs of families jaywalking through the village, the traffic queues to get through Braunton, the lack of parking spaces to sneak a few waves at combesgate, the bobbing foam flotsma clogging the line-up.
With dry weather and small swell forecast, it's likely this year will be no exception. Time to dust off a big log and a bigger dose of patience!
This could be the most photographed seat in North Devon. I don't think ive ever actually sat in it. I'm usually in too much of a rush to get my wetsuit on, especially when the view looks like this!
Winter hasn't been kind to the sand below though. At low tide there's a big lagoon that needs to be waded through or paddled across to reach the breakers. It's rippy too and two weeks ago BGA and i watched some learners (in a lesson i might add) get blown off the sewer pipe and need to be rescued. The helicopter got called but thankfully wasn't needed.
The next day i watched two kids get swept out in the rip at hightide saunton and need to be paddled back in, one on a supermarket bodyboard, one on a shortboard. Scary for them and lucky that those in the water noticed! Saunton is usually really safe but the winters storms have changed the sand somewhat and it's not fully back to normal yet! With the holiday crowds around, please keep your eyes open, especially on the beaches with no flags!
On the subject of Sea Pea's, Gulfstream have a really professional looking new website up here. I know i'm slightly biased but i genuinely think they are consistently producing some of the best boards in the country right now and have been for a few years! There are some great little video's of Jools explaining the different shapes on there too. I particularly enjoyed watching the Sea Pea one (somewhat predictably!). I've got a real kick out of introducing jools to the mini simmons idea and seeing how much excitement and enthusiasm its brought him. That comes across really well in the video.
On the same page, i got chatting to someone in the water the other day who was riding a seapea. I played the dumb but interested surfer and didn't declare my interest. It was really cool to hear how much this guy was loving the shape and how much of an eye opener this little oblong from left field had been. In fact he had bought one based on his friends positive experiences.
If you've read this blog regularly you'll know i've been extolling the virtues of the mini simmons platform in UK waters for a few years. People are getting it now!