How to get started with surfing in the UK?
June 25, 2008 7:40 AM   Subscribe

How to get started with surfing in the UK?

I want to get into surfing. I did it once, about 15 years ago. Now I'm willing to spend some cash if needs be. I'm based in Oxford so I'm looking for suggestions on where to go, how to get started, is it worth going to a 'surf school' (I've heard it's not).

Thanks in advance for the beginners tips...
posted by tomw to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (3 answers total)
Some friends and I started at Croyde Bay in Devon last summer, and it's a great place to learn.
In terms of tuition, I'd say that one or two lessons are the most you'll need to get started. If you want to get out and surf bigger waves and so on later on, you can always go back for more advanced courses.
I'm not completely sure which school it was that we did our lessons at, but I think it was Surf South West.
posted by Kreiger at 8:20 AM on June 25, 2008

Cornwall is also one of the best coastlines for surfing in the UK. Not sure about now, but the locals used to dislike surfers intensely, mainly because they were a pretty miserable lot anyway. Have fun and stay warm!

A couple of links from a quick search on 'surfing in cornwall'

Cornwall Surfing

Cornwall SurfPoint
posted by 543DoublePlay at 9:44 AM on June 25, 2008

I'd agree with Kreiger, getting a lesson or two can be a good way to get started. Buying your own board is going to set you back ~£250 and upwards, even second hand, so make sure its something you're going to be getting some use out of. If you go somewhere established as a surf site in the UK you will be able to rent, both boards and wetsuits. Don't feel you have to stay at the beach where you made the rental however, hiring then moving a bit further down the coast may get you a much less crowded beach. You could consider getting some practice on the big foam boards they hire out. They're safer for you and others while you learn to stand up.

You'll need to consider buying a wetsuit if you're going to commit. Are you going to be surfing all year round or just April-October? If the latter then just get a summer suit, if all year, then you may still be able to pick up a good deal from the back end of the winter season. A winter suit may do you all year round, though this doesn't suit everyone.

Buying your own board: You may find it cheaper to ebay and then collect a cheap second-hand board second hand when you're somewhere near a surfing site, e.g. plan to pick up your board while visiting Cornwall, Devon, etc. there's more of a market in these places. My hardcore surfing friends pick them up regularly this way. You should probably start with something longer, maybe 7'6"+.

Number one piece of advice: Newquay is a shithole. Stay away unless you are keen on mixing with fucktards, tacky nightclubs and fighting in the street.

Before you go in anywhere, check out what the conditions are like. Lots of places have nasty rip currents. E.g. Porthleven has a famous reef but unless you are experienced you will get hurt, either on the rocks or by the locals.
There's a lot said about locals not liking people but that is fairly rare in Cornwall I would say. Some good sites: Gwithian is popular, though useless at high tide. There's a nice cafe and a seal colony below the cliffs not far along the coast to the north, plus the lighthouse is the one from the Virginia Woolf novel if you want other distractions. They seem to be hiring out foam boards there currently.
Porthtowan and Portreath are nice, as is St Agnes, though you might get some local problems at the last of those. Perranporth is a bit bucket and spadey and lousy sand but not bad for a beginner. Holywell is a decent, quiet beach not far down from Newquay.
Gwenvor and Sennen Cove are lovely if you don't mind the drag down. As a rule north coast beats south coast in Cornwall.

Godd surf conditions can't be relied upon in the UK, check out sites like Magic Seaweed or A1surf before you hack it across country. If you do decide to gamble and the sea's as flat as a pancake consider getting yourself a snorkel, mask and flippers, there are lots of good sites around the same areas and you'll all ready have the wetsuit.

NB: I'm not an expert, I just know a lot of surfers.
posted by biffa at 10:11 AM on June 25, 2008

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