Wednesday, 22 October 2014

Missing [approx. a 3 min. read]

Just watched Roger Sharp's great short, "5mm” that appears to be filmed in Scotland, and I'm reminded of what it's like to be a surfer in the UK. Specifically of what I miss about surfing mid-Winter.

The best waves in the UK are during the coldest months of the year. A time when the days lean to late sunrises and early darkness and the wind whips across a frozen land that somehow feels more brittle than during the Summer. Where the light fades from dusky orange to a harsh white; neon almost in its uniform glare and the indistinct shadows that it creates. A time when water temperatures dip to 6˚C (43˚F) and plummet even further on the land.

During these months I miss the sense of a battle fought; of pushing and testing yourself. Against the weather, against yourself - tracking and calculating forecasts - and against your body, pushing it to its cold water limits. Maximizing time in the water takes consistent effort. From the regular cycle of tracking the forecast every week to your pre-surf preparation. What you eat the night before, how you get your core warm when you sleep, the way you maintain this heat in the clothes you wear and food you eat en-route to the beach, how you setup your car (heater on medium; too high will make you sweat and switch your body to a cooling mode) and your routine as you get changed (face the front of the car into the wind so you are protected at the rear). Every aspects matters.

I miss the natural quietness that comes as the effort that's needed to keep going against the numbing cold deters so many. The stillness of isolated spots where there may be no-one there to enjoy it but yourself (or the few you brought with you). You're often within reach of large towns and even cities but you somehow feel like you're separated and very distant from these. The blend of the ocean's rise and sweep of the offshore wind creates a natural white noise sound stage to the countryside's backdrop. It's a strange remoteness that exists at the ocean's edge mid-Winter.

I miss surf that looks like somehow hand-drawn and released from someone’s imagination. Lines stacked to the horizon, brushed clean by offshores at dramatic spots that nestle deep within counties you’ve never considered for surfing before.

And above all I miss the camaraderie of preparing, searching, discovering, and tackling all of this with friends. To call surfing mid-Winter an ‘expedition’ is accurate on so many levels.

If you've never lived and surfed in the UK then looking at all this effort you might wonder, why bother? This wouldn't be unreasonable. Even those that have surfed there for years often allow their resolve to be eroded over time. Letting the natural rhythm of preparation slip away until the effort to re-start it doesn't feel worth it. In a slow, almost indiscernible creep, the rhythm……disconnects. The weekly checking of the charts becomes an accidental discovery of good surf from a weekend past when a video circulates online of "that day". The once ready-packed surf kit becomes strewn across the house (or relegated to the garage / shed) and before long the last surf was months or years, not weeks or days, ago.

Keeping motivated and pushing to maintain the weekly rhythm does take effort. If you’re in a cold water location, keep at it. If you’ve stopped, re-start. If you’ve never tried, give it a go. The search itself and those air-brushed days that wait at the end of it really are worth it.

Thursday, 4 September 2014

Without Water

A short edit of a trek through the high desert in East California. Not a drop of water in sight but some calm solitude.

Monday, 2 June 2014


Clean, crisp morning, pre-work refresh, sun tingly above the horizon to paint the sky in an orange glow. Even the monstrosity that is the surf club looked good in this light. After weeks of Summer time air temperatures, pushing the boundaries into the realms of the late-twenty degrees on a regular basis, this was the first day when the Winter steamer would have been welcomed. Brisk Westerly winds stripping the meagre warmth that the Summer suit provides. Sets still infrequent but at least the odd rideable one and the hungry crowd of days before are satiated enough to make the crowd manageable.

This is more like it

No rain for weeks? It's like surfing in Evian


Seagulls have reclaimed the beach post-Summer buzz


A few week of flatness build the energy and anticipation to levels that verge on a pre-UFC bout; surfers start to swim, run, cycle....we are are a twitchy crowd...edgy when we are not active. And then the swell arrives and everyone - good, bad, the in-between - descend upon the beach. The usual cycles of morning and afternoon crowds, those who have family commitments sneaking in earlier, or arriving later with children in tow, are crumbled and everyone arrives, en-masse.

And so it was on this day after complete flatness for a few weeks. A hungry crowd and very few waves to go around. The pictures make it look far, far better than it was. An ugly backwash and infrequent sets mean that the attached evidence was limited to a freaky few who managed to sneak onto an unmolested wave that found a bank.

A thick crowd of hungry animals

Just after dawn it was a bit more reasonable

No-one in the right spot

The only place to be alone

Inside backwashed moments gave brief visions (none make-able)

Wave of the day

Sunday, 18 May 2014


Finally got around to uploading the pictures from the recent Fiji trip. Most of the shots are from the day at Rainbows (check the rainbow that flows from behind the wave - you can see it on the empty barrel shots). Shout out to Chris, Steven, Rod, Scott, Chaps, Shiloh, and Eddie who were charging. Click the link below to see the full album.

Saturday, 3 May 2014


Just back from a trip to the Coral Coast, Fiji where Marcus and I had a week of epic surf. Constantly battling watching perfection slide past and not having enough energy to keep, on, going. Three to four hours stints, twice a day the norm with the legs giving out from the long rides before the arms did.

Back into work now so it'll be a few weeks before I get around to sorting the video and the rest of the surf shots. Just flicked through what I have taken and put a small sample below. More to follow in a bit.

The reef below. Stunning but sharp.

Frigates. Epic left-hander with 200 - 300m rides.

Shifties. Looks enticing but shallow and generally to be avoided
at this size to miss the reef.

J's/Rainbows on the biggest day of the trip.

Steven at Js/Rainbows.

The inside at Js/Rainbows.

A smaller day.

Another day of epic lefthand barrels.

Saturday, 19 April 2014

Double Rainbow

Well, almost. A double foam ball on a single wave? Surprisingly enough there weren't any takers for this outside monster. Novelty spots the only option on this day. For this that know this spot, it sits very close to a shark breeding ground. In one of the shots you can just see the sign in the foreground that tells you this fact. Just by the jump off spot. Keeps the concentration sharp.

Wild ocean but long rides for the patient

Steep take off and went a bit fat on the inside.

Double foam ball!

Shark breeding ground.

Friday, 18 April 2014

Happy Easter

The swell keeps on coming. Solid waves on Easter Friday (video below), by Saturday it had jumped to the point that most beaches were closed, 10ft sets rolling in, up over the sand and into the scrubland. Very few around, just the lifeguards keeping everyone out of the water, and no-one out in the surf except at the odd novelty spot to the South which was a bit wind affected and lumpy.

Sunday, 13 April 2014


Some very solid waves coming through yesterday evening and this was after the swell had calmed a little. Windswept and, frankly, looking pretty ugly. There were a few rides happening but a lot of carnage in between. Cross-chop, backwash, peaks made heavier with rippling sand. It looked like hard work. A few crew were getting some sold waves.

Styling in the sand monster

It was a whole lot of fun until this happened

This guy was catching all the best ones

An uncomfortable position to be in

On the way back home

Moonrise over heavy seas

A big bottom turn on a solid wave

Seen a lot more of these types of boards out recently.

south by south-east

VIDEO: opted to stay on the beach today. Made the mistake of going surfing straight after the rain and a seawater bug found its way in. Some wild surf out there today.

Saturday, 12 April 2014

Friday, 11 April 2014


Autumn has arrived with a very bold statement. After a few weeks of fun waves that characterise the wobble of a shift in season, Autumn has decided it's time to make itself felt. Steep climbing charts from nearly zero swell to six meters in just a few hours. Good job it happened overnight otherwise a few would have most likely been caught out. Heading out to look later and surf if the more exotic locations are up and working.

Sunday, 6 April 2014

A Slight Breeze

Gale force cross-shoares making for ugly peaks. Still the odd one worth catching. The lefts especially which were being blown wide open by the cross-shore. Had an hour or so out in the water and about 20 minutes at the beach shower trying to tease out the buckets of sand that had been rammed into the wetsuit.

Sunday, 30 March 2014


Since the surf wasn't up to much and the weather was nice Mark kindly lent me his spare paddle board (not SUP - just to be clear) and we did the 6km paddle from my local beach to his. An amazing experience seeing the coast from a completely unique perspective. The thought of what lay beneath, looking up, did cross the mind more than once but the view was worth it. Stopping off in bays along the way to check out the reefs. Coming back in the swell had jumped a little so ended up having a bit of a tricky final stretch back into the beach.

Post paddle board checked the local beach and the swell was up to 2 - 3ft so headed out for a few hours. Needed a nap in the afternoon but other duties prevailed.

Sunday, 16 March 2014


Had about ten minutes to take a few shots before the rain descended. In fact, this has been a pattern for the past few weeks. A quick surf fitted in amongst other things going on (on this day a fun left-hander at this usually crappy beach break as a heavy NE swell pushed in).

Friday, 14 March 2014


After what feels like over six weeks of really small surf, mostly too small to be bothered with, a new swell was forecast for the weekend. Anticipation rising; 2-3ft and clean on Saturday, bumping to 5-6ft Sunday.

Keeping it short, it was an ugly mess. No banks, tide pulling it in all sorts of directions. Ultimately the wrong side of frustrating despite more size to it than there's been for a while. Floated in after two. Not worthy of a photo even (screen grab from the surf cam. makes it look better than it was).

Usually any time in the ocean is all upside but the differential between forecast and reality proved to be too much for even the most optimistic soul. Hopefully tomorrow will be better but ratcheting down the expectation meter. Just in case.

Friday, 7 February 2014

That's New

The local was looking a bit wobbly and uninviting so made a few detours to beaches around and ended up somewhere that's often avoided. Not famed for its waves, more for the likelihood of chaos. It lived up to half its reputation. The backend of the swell meant less grunt but there were still peaks. Lefts and rights. Some tucked in the corner, some middle beach. Water like Evian with shoals of fish visible, flying across the sand beneath.

Chaos was still there. Almost got run over by someone doing a last minute drop-in. Seemed like a genuine mistake and we both exited unscathed but in that sickening moment as you watch 7 ft of uncontrolled long board drop directly in front of you it felt like it could have taken a different path. Apologies abound whilst getting rolled around in the set that followed. Board managed to exit unharmed too. Think I'll take this spot off the future list - got lucky twice and don't want to push it.

Crystal clear water. Board shorts were in vogue.

Corner rights.


After what has felt like the longest spell without real swell, the flatness is broken. It was bigger today but the weekend's still got some juice to work with.

Saturday, 1 February 2014


Wind ruffled waves, a stiff breeze from the SSW adding texture to waves with this 'not quite offshore or cross-shore' wind direction. Plenty of fun waves around; long lefts pushing against the wind. Shorter, punchier rights. Stayed out too long, the SPF50 no match for the noonday sun, pushed aside to burn the skin. An infrequent experience but a steady reminder. Back to the zinc.

Lefts - the pick of the day

Outside peaks

Friday, 31 January 2014


Unexpectedly fun surf. Mostly lefts, a little weak but plenty to get going and turning in. I'm sure the sunshine, clear blue, and boardshorts were helping. Spent much of the session dreaming of Fiji. Only three months away.

Monday, 20 January 2014

Worth a Look

Went to the beach fully intending to go for a swim and was greeting by 1-2ft glassy surf. A lovely peak to the South, trading waves with a few others. It was super peaky, wedging a tiny bit - just enough to give you speed on the take-off and then you're off. Got two magic waves. A long left with room for plenty of connected turns, and a shorter peaky one which gave a tantalising glimpse of a small barrel (no claims, just enough to squeeze in for a fraction of a second and be reminded of the sensation).

In all, nothing spectacular but still...glassy calm...only a few out...enough power to move about. That's all it really takes to feel the glow of a fun session.

Friday, 17 January 2014


It just didn't have it today. The swell was there, the first time in a while that there was a little bit more push behind it, but the wind, swell direction and bank combo just left it wonky and weak. Two waves made up the session. Behind that it was enjoying the sunshine. No bad thing.

Saturday, 11 January 2014

No Pictures

It was a classi case of; "believe me, it was fun". Pulling out of the car park at Marcus's place a local asked "what'd you need a board for today?". On the face of it he was right. The cams looked average forecast was for 1-2ft.

But then sometimes you get a magic combination of conditions that negates all the technology. The forecasts and cameras, at the beach reports and updates from mates, don't quite capture it. Today was one of those days. Looked small and full from the beach but once in the water it all changed.

Somehow we manage to float to a peak where there were just three of us out, trading waves with Neil on a kneeboard and Marcus styling on the 70s throw-back twin fin. Restored to a new level of glory. Steep, surprisingly long and fast lefts with plenty of room to think and kick out a few turns. Dropping off the back of one Neil slid past "Don't make it look too goodyou'll attract the maggots".

A fun session and a great way to blow the desert dust out of the body after a few weeks out of the water. Loved it.

Thursday, 2 January 2014


A long way from the ocean. Or any life it feels. Desert stretching outwards hundreds of miles in every direction from the point at which my feet scrunch and crackle in the sand and dry stones. The contrast, with a life so tied to the sea and water, is comforting. The difference is silence.

Saturday, 21 December 2013

SummerTime [video]

As I flick through Howard's Fisher Viking blog, set on the North Somerset and Devon coast, wind chill rising and the darkest part of Winter approaching, it felt like the right time to finally sit down for a few hours to edit the footage from last Summer. This is around the same time I caught up with Jonny, Aggro, and Kath and got some great surf down the SW. When it's good, there's not many places I'd rather be surfing with mates. Moreover, and more importantly, at a time when things were incredibly hard, it was a real boost. This one's for you guys. Summer will be back. In the meantime, enjoy those long, long lines and epic Winter days.

Sunday, 15 December 2013


Dark skies and a flat ocean is all that greets us today. The recent rain means shredded seaweed lines the shorebreak with a heavy brown, sucking at your legs as you wade out. Only good for a swim today though even that brings its own refreshment.

Saturday, 14 December 2013


Seagull, waddling in from stage left. Pauses, waits for the surf cam. to finish its rotation. Looks squarely at the lens. Snap! Not certain how it intended to retrieve the image. If this is you, drop me a DM and I'll mail it to you.

Friday, 6 December 2013


Filming today felt like four sessions in one. Comfortable two footers intersected with 4-5ft bombs. Click through to see the video.

Poker Face

Long lulls between the sets. Ocean looks manageable. Tricky shore break methinks. North or South of the flags? More crowded North, not quite such a good peak to the South. Opt for the smaller crowd. Take a running jump at the shore break. Get stuffed. Sand politely shoved into the wetsuit from both directions, down the neck and up the legs. That’s going to feel like a free exfoliation later. Make it past the churning inside and there’s half a football pitch of flatness between the inside and pack. They seem a long way out. Paddle on through the ocean; a crisp turquoise blue, light offshore.

Out the back, floating in what feels like a no mans land. There’s a high proportion of blue and yellows; foam boards without the fibreglass, the long lulls and smooth ocean inciting them out. Many look a little steely faced. Tight lipped for the most part. A twitch on the horizon, the pack’s spooked and starts to paddle. Hold ground and wait, can’t see anything yet.

A set rolls through. Not pitching but a good size, the top end of 4ft. A huddle gets washed through, duck dive and re-surface. I feel like Luke in the trash compacter, surrounded by spluttering and unidentified objects. Sitting further out makes more sense now. Float in a spot beyond the crowd and wait for the bigger ones. Smooth, long lefts. Faster, glassy walled rights. A two hour session, rinse and repeat until the tide fills it up and its time to race through the foam and get reacquainted with the shore break. It goes much more smoothly second time around.