Posted by: smithdavid | September 16, 2012


We’ve take a left before we get to Woolacombe itself – a suggestion from a friend of Tim’s. Then we park on the side of the road that runs parallel with the beach. We’re about thirty feet up – the pale sand of the beach stretches out several hundred yards each side. To the left, the southern side, is Putsburough. To the right – Woolacombe. The stretch in between is a no-man’s-land a mile long with shifting peaks. The peaks seem small from this vantage point and there are only a handful of surfers going for waves. But we’ve come a long way to be here so we get kitted up.

‘a mile long no-man’s land’

‘What’s up with your fin?’ Tim says as we walk down the dune path. I look at the back of the mini-mal – one of the fins is hanging from its slot.

‘We could go and find someone to fix it – there’ll be someone in town…’ says Tim.

I think of getting changed out of the wetsuit and looking for a surf shop. I look down to the waves breaking below. ‘Nah, let’s just get in – it’ll be fine…’

We stretch for a while at the waterline. You can feel the turn of season in the air – the sensation of coolness brings back memories of previous European winters.

Now we’re in and paddling. We get to the start of the break zone. A wave jacks up – it’s a lot bigger now that we’re actually in front of it – at least shoulder height at the face. Then it slams down – there is weight behind it, this is not the gentle rush of the Rossnowlagh swell. This is mean and furious. We’re both smashed off our boards.

We get on again and paddle some more. Another wave comes and we’re smashed again. Now we’re separated. I look out for one – even a small one – to catch and re-assure myself. But the ocean provides nothing.

I look back and see that Tim has caught one – his head just sticks out above the wall of water. Later, as the wave closes, I see his easy stance. I want to be up on a wave like that myself.

But it’s tough going – the break zone is probably fifty yards long and its hard work paddling. A massive effort gets me out back. I sit on the board to catch my breath. Eventually Tim is beside me.

‘it’s a lot bigger when we’re actually in front of it’

‘Not so easy,’ he says and I nod.

One comes and I paddle wildly – I feel a pull but I don’t stand, I’m not stable. Suddenly the board dives down the face and then I’m underwater.

And it goes this way for a while – neither of us making anything.

‘I’m going in – wanna try my board?’ Tim says eventually. We swap leashes in the water. Tim’s board is a 7’6” mini-mal and brand new. I think I’ll definitely make a few waves now.

I paddle to where a few are breaking – the board glides over the water, there is no heavy drag as there is with my battered mini-mal. Then one comes and I paddle to make it. Again I feel the pull. But again it gets really steep just as I want to stand and I’m upside down in the water before I know it.

Eventually I go in – exhausted and disappointed. I should’ve made plenty of waves on with Tim’s board, I’m thinking.

Tim’s board is light to carry and I remember the sensation of gliding and I’m thinking about my heavy, sodden mini-mal and I’m wondering.


  1. Great blog David! Still…. It all looks very wet and cold to me!

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