Warm, no crowds, offshore winds, pumping surf…stay home now.
**Big photos: click on an image, then click on it once more to view LARGE **
I did have plans to do a load of trips this winter, but after this Saturady just gone, all bets are off concerning the best place to grab some world class winter waves.
Saturday dawned with sun beaming in through the south facing windows in the house. We (Hayley and I) took a stroll to the Lewinnick Lodge on Pentire Headland to grab a coffee and some brunch on this amazing morning. No rush to get in the surf, I’d made plans with Smiler to get on it at 2pm when the tide got low enough for North Fistral. With the 2.5m swell at 13 seconds and stiff SE winds, the whole of the North Coast was ripe for the plucking but we thought we’d stay local.
On the walk to the Lewinnick, the coast path gets quite close to a sheer drop into the sea. We were about 60m above where waves surf was pounding into the rocks below, but we could feel the earth shaking with the force of it. Already we’d seen one unlucky soul carried into an ambulance after he miss-timed the leap off of the rocks at South Fistral. The ambulance stood by, waiting to see what became of the wretch below.
Happily this chap fared better after a mate who was watching called him up and pointed out a better spot further along. But enough of all this drama, because as I said, the sun was shining, it was warm, the surf was pumping and it was perfect! Just before 2pm Smiler came round and we headed off to Little Fistral for a reccy as from here you can see everything. Amazingly, on what was probably as good a day as you’ll ever see at Fistral, there were only two or three people at North Fistral and they seemed to be paddling shorewards anyway.
We suited up and shot out in a rip to find ourselves alone at North before three or four others arrived to join us. If we all didn’t know eachother directly, it was only once removed. So there we were, end of November with a warm sun shining down, the best surf we’d seen in years and it would be fair to say it was about to be shared by six friends. And this was a Saturday, at Fistral Beach, the most well known surf spot in the UK…so where is everybody?
Everybody it turns out was down at Gwithian (a friend later told us there were about seventy people out) or hunting out sheltered / secret spots up and down the coast. The last place anyone wanted to go on the best swell of the year was Fistral Beach, since everyone knows it’s going to be too crowded right? Well you can see how this logic worked in our favour today; sometimes it pays to be either a) illogical or b) just lazy.
The international version of this type of behaviour would be everyone going to Morocco and avoiding Lanzarote, for last week in Lanzo we did not see one rental car driving around with boards on the roof and surfed with just two or three other people much of the time.
My wave count was quite slow, but amongst it I got by far the best barrel I’ve had at Fistral, in fact, the best barrel I’ve had anywhere come to think of it. It was throwing right over and taking every ounce of concentration not to get clobbered by it. No photos exist, but that doesn’t matter because without photos you have to replay it in your minds eye and I reckon that makes you focus better on remembering the experience, rather than remembering the photo. Deffo one of the top five waves I’ve had.
All this mega fun within five minutes walk of the house! Isn’t that the stuff we dream of? The best waves you’ve ever had, shared with just a few people. It’s the ultimate long-haul secret spot fantasy, or something you hope Ireland might yield to you.
Last winter snow was threatening to close Heathrow and I was preparing to leave to Hawaii for six weeks. It was cold here; a strange winter for Cornwall, Newquay hardly catches a frost most years. We’re back in business now though and it’s been overhead for about three weeks straight…
That’s it then. In my humble, biased and limited opinion, I hearby claim Newquay, taking into account waves, proximity of accommodation to the ocean, crowds and warmth, to be the finest surfing real estate in the Northern Hemisphere. At least it was on Saturday anyway.