Sarah Loughlin travels to Cornwall in the sunny South-West of England to try her hand at surfing for the first time.
‘Pete….Pete…. Pst, Pete’
‘I think I’ve been stung by a weaver fish’
‘I doubt it, we haven’t been into the sea yet.’
The clouds roll around above us as if they haven’t quite decided where they are headed. Eventually, they slowly begin clearing to leave small patches of blue. I was worried about being cold but after carrying my surfboard down the long beach left behind by the retreating tide, I’m quite toasty in my wetsuit. It is turning into an epic summers day in Cornwall.
Today is the day we have been waiting for; Pete, the older brother of a childhood friend, and I are going to learn to surf. He has been living in Cornwall for a few months now and was waiting for a willing companion to learn with. Dave, our instructor, is sitting in the middle of our semi-circle of boards and after a quick safety chat (including the dreaded weaver fish) is giving us the low down. ‘The most important thing is to bend your knees, a lot of people tend to bend at the hips instead’.
Note to self:
Bend. Knees. Do not stick bottom in air.
With that we are set free into the shallows to try it out.
‘Loser buys the beers!!’
There is now a lot riding on this surfing malarkey – beer and dignity. And also the possibility of getting stung by a fish.
The first part was simple enough, pushing myself into a wave and gliding into the beach with my belly on the board like a very graceful beached sea creature. It was an amazing sensation and I can see how people get totally hooked to the rush of being swept away by the rippling water beneath you.
Now for the tricky bit. Dave had given us an on land demo of exactly how it was supposed to look. How hard can it be? I lurk in the waist deep water and let a few of the others give it a go first. No one seems to have been stung by a fish yet. This is a good sign.
I try to put my irrational fear of these mystical fish out of my mind and set my self up for a wave.
Drew, my long suffering boyfriend, has paddled out somewhere in the ‘back water’ (as the cool kids call it), being a seasoned surfer he has rented a board and is doing his own thing. Just as he pushes his board back out towards the sea to catch another wave, I feel my board start to move. I have caught the wave. Carefully moving my feet underneath me, I stand up. In my head I look like one of the girls from a billabong advert: knees bent, hair looking all surfery. In reality, my bottom could not be further into the air!!
The most important thing is that I stood up. Isn’t it?
Dave, our very patient and supportive instructor claps loudly from the shallows ‘Great Sarah! Well done!’.
After a few more waves interspersed with laughing loudly at myself and splashing around like a baby giraffe, we walk back up the beach.
‘Pete, I was clearly better than you, I think you need to get the beers in’
‘Don’t think so! I caught quite a few waves’
‘So did I! Actually come to think of it, Drew I only saw you catch one, I think its your round!’
Perranporth, about 10 miles from Truro is a nice sandy beach, very family and dog friendly. Great place to go for a walk, or a surf, or just grab a beer in England’s only bar on a beach, The Watering Hole. If you take lessons at Perranporth Surf School you will receive a discount card for food and drinks at the bar.
To book a lesson contact Gavin at Perranporth Surf School: firstname.lastname@example.org
See my video for an exclusive interview with Perranporth surf school and some local surfing knowledge!