Posted by: smithdavid | March 9, 2014


‘You’re probably best going out to Saunton this morning,’ the waitress/bargirl in the Thatch, Croyde tells us as she serves us. We’re staying in a room above the pub and have come down for breakfast. ‘Putsborough might be better this afternoon, more sheltered from the wind – but the swell needs wrap around…’ she adds.

Judging from the conditions yesterday and the (unreliable) Magicseaweed forecast, there will be good swell today. But both Emmet and I heard the howl of the wind outside earlier; the fear is that it will be blown out.

What more can you do when you live this far from the sea other than plan your trip and have faith?

We finish our breakfast and strap the boards to the soft racks on the estate car. When we have reached the top of Croyde Road, we pull up and look down towards the long stretch of Saunton. The wind is rushing through the vegetation up here; the only consolation is that it’s off-shore.

swell coming in from deep sea...

swell coming in from deep sea…

‘Looks like it’s cleaning things up a little…’ Emmet says as we watch the lines of swell pulsing in from deep sea.

‘All we can do is get in,’ I say. ‘Maybe it’ll be a little more sheltered down there…’

But once we’ve suited up and have made the long walk from the car park to the water’s edge the wind is pushing hard.

When I put Matilda down on the sand so that I can stretch and attach the leash a gust of wind picks her up and cartwheels her down the beach; I have to run to catch her.

‘That’s why I always put my board in the direction of the wind,’ Emmet says, grinning. ‘And put the leash on before doing anything else…’

We paddle out with the wind at our backs. When I get in to shoulder depth I see a wave that I could take. I paddle for it and pop-up as soon the wave begins to pull on Matilda. But the spray from the wave blows into my eyes and it does not seem to have enough power to carry me.

I catch a small wave a little later and have a short ride. When I jump off Matilda the wind blows her up and into my head. It’s nothing like the knock I took from the 8’7” hire board in Rossnowlagh but it’s enough to make my eyes water.

I try and paddle a little farther out. I reach Emmet – he’s twenty or thirty yards farther in than I was. He’s sitting on his board, hands in armpits for warmth.

the path to the beach from saunton car park...

the path to the beach from saunton car park…

‘That wind is blowing me off the board every time I try and pop-up…’ he says.

We both make a few small waves, have a few short rides.

After a while I feel that my energy has drained and that it will be difficult to get up even if there is a good wave. I belly ride a wave back in to shore.

When I start walking back to the car, I see that there is a girl struggling with a SUP board. She angles it so that the wind won’t catch it, carries it ten yards or so, puts it down, rests.

I offer to help her and when I take the tail of the board I see that blood is running from a cut above her eye.

‘Wind blew it into me…’ she says, noticing my gaze.

My mediocre surf and bump on the head seem insignificant now.

And once I’ve changed and warmed up my body begins to have that satisfied ache.

‘I’ve never regretted going in for a session. Not even today…’ I say to Emmet


  1. Dave,

    “I’ve never regretted going in..”.

    It’s still dark here in the States, pre-dawn. I’m eating some cereal and revisiting my favorite blogs.

    Took up snowboarding recently- a kind of surfing on the mountain. We have a small mountain about an hour+ from my home. The conditions there will not be so great now- warm weather has brought “spring skiing” conditions. Wasn’t sure I wanted to make the drive, although it’s the last possible week of the season for me.

    Read your post and now I know. I’ll be heading out after breakfast. Never regretted giving it a go.



    • hope you didn’t regret going out, tom. though, regret is a state of mind, so i doubt you did.

      keep boarding…dave

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