Yesterday, the Cribbar was very much awake.
Swell conditions were perfect: 1.8m at 16 seconds which combined with 18 degrees of sunshine meant the Towan Headland was packed with hundreds spectators waiting to see a bunch of surfers drop into some of the best waves of the year. This is good because you know that amongst all that lot there is bound to be someone with a rather fantastic camera and an eye for sports, and this day, none other than the legendary Geoff Tydeman himself was on the cliffs with what is probably the best camera set up in UK surfing. Or at least one of them. So thanks to Geoff Tydeman for these stunning photos, I’m already planning where to put the blown-up versions around the home.
I paddled out from the lifeboat slipway on the Towan side; I saw the clean up sets coming in at Little Fistral had turned the usual paddle out channel into a dangerous place to be. After about twenty minutes of flat water paddling, I had skirted right around the back of the break and took my position using the same line up spots that I always use. I take a transit line between buildings and structures that can only line up when you’re in the right spot. I triangulate this with certain patters on the water that betray the exact position of the reef below. So really you’re looking for a take-off spot the size of a dustbin lid while currents are trying to move you around an area the size of a football field.
All that I had to do now was stare the waves down and go for the ones that looked good. I got out of the blocks with a nice big drop, paddled back out and was soon into my second wave. However I didn’t see that Tom Butler was already up and riding on it till I was gunning down the face of it myself. Once I spied him, I carried on. Normally you would kick out and let the other guy finish the ride but that would mean me going up and over the lip – there was a chance that the lip would catch my board and throw it down on to Tom, probably not something he would have been very grateful for. And since the wave faces were so open and large that you could have held a charity five-a-side football match on there and still had room for parking, I figured there was enough space for two surfers.
Things had gone well and without taking any hidings, I was preparing to paddle home. I had been getting cramp in the backs of my arms from all the paddling; I’d surfed the night before, and already that day at Watergate Bay which due to the size of the surf and the relentless currents, was quite a workout. I had to keep stretching the muscles so that they didn’t lock up when I most needed a burst of acceleration to paddle into a wave, or to escape disaster. I moved a little further inside and seconds later a perfect peak popped up so I got my head down and paddled into it. This was the cleanest of my three waves and I think makes the best photo. Here’s another one of it below.
A friend asked me what it is like to paddle into a wave at the Cribbar, and I suppose all I can really say is that it’s bloody brilliant. It’s definitely the thing I like most in surfing. Some might prefer to seek out a perfect barrel or a wave that allows radical manoeuvres but I really like walking to the end of the street (and a little bit further), jumping off into the sea and getting stuck right into the big peak at Newquay’s only reef break. I like the fact that you can get world class thrills in your own town.