As two girls living in a small land locked town, about as far away as possible from any large body of water, learning to surf, or attempting to learn, was an exciting prospect. Being the final trip of the summer before heading our separate ways to University we wanted to make it one to remember and decided that Newquay was the place to make some memories.
After arriving on a rainy afternoon we headed off in search of somewhere to enquire about surf lessons. We were told the best place to go was Newquay Activity Centre where we were met by the very friendly and helpful Kieran. After a quick chat we booked our first surf lesson for that afternoon. We were told “the waves are sick today” which was when it dawned on us that we hadn’t given the 3-4 foot waves any consideration whatsoever. They don’t sound huge but when you’re a novice in the water a liquid barricade crashing over your head doesn’t sound too appealing… nerves started to kick in.
That afternoon we were introduced to our peachy bummed instructor, Fred, who kitted us out with wetsuits and boards, and off we went to Fistral beach. It’s a great beach for learning to surf most days and is always patrolled by RNLI lifeguards. After a safety brief and warm up complete with games and stretches we practiced the very basics of catching waves. We weren’t just excited – we were ‘stoked’ (Fred’s words, not our own).
Once we had caught a few waves Fred called us into the shore and showed us the next stage to surfing; standing up! After an impressive demonstration of how Fred would ‘pop up’ on a board we had a few practices on land. Needless to say, we were not as impressive and much slower than the pros. We then headed back into the water for the last part of our lesson. It was filled with falls, big splashes, and perfect praise sandwiches from Fred along the lines of “great effort, this time try bending your knees more when you stand, but well done” when we got it right.
We had such a great time laughing at each other getting taken out by the waves that we didn’t realise how physically challenging learning to surf was and by the next day our arms and cores were aching like crazy. Eager for more the day after we were ready to rent kit and try again, this time unaided by an instructor (goodbye Fred’s peachy bum).
The following day the sea was very choppy at Fistral beach. There were other surfers out back but as newbies with foam boards we struggled and got knocked back time and time again, getting rolled in the breakers and generally not having as much fun as the day before. But, we didn’t let this deter us, and as we sat on the beach to gather ourselves, we were determined to get at least a couple of good rides before we quit. Back in the ocean the current swelled and felt incredibly strong, we both managed to stand at least once before calling it a day, the sea is a cruel mistress at times!
We took a couple of days off from surfing and had some local cider while enjoying relaxed time at the beach. However, after two days we were ready to surf a little more before we had to head home. Once again we hired the kit and headed toward the waves. We felt like we understood the basic concept of surfing and knew that only practice was going to make us better. The sea was much more gentle with calmer waves that were perfect for us.
There is nothing quite like the freedom and excitement you feel when you stand on a board riding a wave; it takes your head a second to realise what is actually going on. This feeling gets even better when you learn to enjoy the experience without panicking and falling off straight away. There’s a smile that spreads across your face as you let all the falls and failed efforts wash away, you’ve got it and it feels great!
We can see exactly why people love to surf. If we lived closer to the sea then it would definitely be something we would pursue. We’re already planning our next trip to Newquay and we can’t wait!
This article was co-written with Chloe Hodson