Starting Again

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Despite knowing that we really enjoyed surfing it was over a year before we tried it again, this time, much closer to home. I’d come across the Coast to Coast surf school when they had a pop-up tent in St Andrew’s Square in Edinburgh as part of an event to showcase local companies who offered coaching on various outdoor activities.

The C2C team were talking about the surf coasteering and stand up paddleboarding (SUP) lessons. I’d taken a leaflet and done what most of us do with such things and promptly put it in my bag and forgot all about it. At work, a month or so later I was musing on Spring being finally here and I what could do to make the most of the predicted good weather this coming weekend and it occurred to me that I could get out and have another go at surfing. So I dug out the leaflet – which I was pleased to find was still in the bag – phoned the number on it and booked a board and wetsuit hire for the coming Saturday. .

C2C Surf School

The C2C team do all of the surf coaching at Belhaven Beach, which is about 20 miles east of Edinburgh; I met with Sam and Josh who founded and run the business, picked up my board and wetsuit and headed out over the dunes to the shore. Belhaven Beach is perfect for beginner and intermediate level surfers as it is 100% sand, no rocks at all, and its gentle slope leads to waves which are generally pretty smooth when they come in. It took half an hour or so to relearn the basics of Paddle! Paddle! Paddle! Pop-up, but once done I was up and away and loving every minute. It was helped by a good Spring Tide swell which brought in good sets on a pretty regular basis, so that if you missed one there’d be another along shortly after to try again.

Having had a good two hours on the water, I returned the board and got a friendly “See you next week” from Sam and it occurred to me, “Actually I really do want to do it again” and so it was that a few weeks later me and Harriet were both back on the waves Over the summer, we went out 4 or 5 times and steadily improved our skills, helping each other by sharing where we thought we were going wrong and suggesting what we might do to put things right.

In October that year we went to Portugal, where we thought we might get some very late summer warmer surfing. We stayed near Lisbon in a hotel right on Praia do Guincho – which we found out later is one of the best surfing beaches in the Lisbon area.

Praia do Guincho

The beach was stunning, very unspoilt, deep golden sand and (unfortunately for us) huge waves that would have mashed us into the seabed. We watched open mouthed as 10-15ft breaks rolled in off the Atlantic, which and then broke and roiled in the shallows before being torn along the shoreline in a a very powerful rip. Whilst we were disappointed not to get out, in many respects it was enough just to marvel at the raw strength and energy of the ocean.

The following Spring and Summer saw us going out more and more and we were joined on occasion by Alex and Evie as well, which completed the set up nicely. We also bought our own wetsuits, which although fine for summer use (3mm), it fast became clear that come the colder weather they weren’t going to cut the mustard, so we bought thicker and more durable ones.

At summer’s end, Harriet started at high school in Edinburgh, which, although quite daunting, she was very eager as they’re the only school in the city to have a Surf Club, who meet on Wednesdays after school (until it gets too dark and then starts again in the summer term) and accompanied by teachers head down to Belhaven Beach for coaching by the C2C team. These additional sessions helped bring her skills along enormously and after a few weeks was invited to join the junior squad so that she could benefit from further training with the potential to enter competitions in the future.

Once the season had ended, C2C announced they were selling off some of their older boards, so off we went and picked up a couple of foamies, so now we could load up the car whenever we wanted and head wherever the waves were going to be – we’d finally become surfers!

Own board, will travel…