When the August Bank Holiday dawned bright, sunny and beautiful, Blue Chip’s Harriet and I decided that we had to do it justice by making memories. And that’s how we ended up making our way down to Newquay on Sunday with a two-hour surfing lesson booked in at Newquay Activity Centre.
I’m going to be completely honest here and point out that I’m the opposite of a water baby…not a fan of the sea and far happier on the sand than in the waves, but Harriet’s one of those people whose enthusiasm rubs off on you, so 1pm found us stood outside the surf school with our instructor Jonny, picking out our wetsuits.
Wetsuits on (the less said about that the better), we gamely tucked a surfboard under each arm and made our way, barefoot, down to Fistral Beach. As the sun put on a show and bounced off the waves in the distance, I’d never seen Newquay look more beautiful. We made our way through the crowds and down to the shore, where we set down our boards and looked expectantly at Jonny. I looked from Jonny to the surfers behind me, dancing with the waves on their brightly coloured surfboards, and got ready to give it my best.
We started with warm ups and then knelt on our boards to learn the ropes. In a nutshell, to ride a wave successfully you need to get from being flat on your board, to your knees and then onto your feet in a seamless, controlled movement…all while keeping your weight above the centre of the board. Jonny talked us through while we practiced the positions, and then we tethered our leashes to our ankles and made our way into the water.
Boards beside us, we made our way out to meet the surf, jumping as the waves crashed past. Now, if you’re like me and you’re happier on dry land than in water, don’t rule out giving a lesson a go. The instructors at Newquay Activity Centre are trained lifeguards, so even though it feels a tiny bit daunting being out there at first, you’re completely safe and they've got you.
We started by sliding onto our boards and lying flat, paddling until the waves caught us and then sliding onto our knees while we whooshed our way towards the shore. We were ready to try and stand. I spent the next two hours clambering onto my board with determination, making it onto my knees and then finding myself under the waves…while Harriet was something of a natural and mastered standing pretty quickly. I have to say, Jonny had the patience of a saint.
When the waves passed and I resurfaced, he’d hand me my board and point back to the surf, and off we’d go again. And again. I don’t know how many times I tried before I did it, but I finally stood on the board for a split second before the big plunge, and Harriet, Jonny and a nearby surfer were as ecstatic as me at my mini surfing triumph. By this time Harriet had spent more time riding the waves than beneath them, so we left the water feeling pleased with ourselves.
I’ve got a few friends who live to surf, and now that I’ve given it a go I take my hat off to them. Once you get the hang of it, it becomes a way of life (Jonny told us he’s been surfing since he was 6 or 7), but it takes patience, way more strength than you’d think, and brilliant coordination. If you find yourself in Newquay, give it a go, because the lovely thing about surfing is that pretty much anyone can try it. Before us, Jonny had taught a couple in their sixties (and got them standing on their boards), and his lesson that afternoon was a four year old girl…aaaaw! so, make sure you get on that board at least once.
Click here to find out more about surfing lessons with Newquay Activity Centre.