Taking Flight


Confident now that we could catch waves at our regular beaches – Belhaven and St Andrews – what we had to do now was work on those skills so that they become second nature. As a result of both school surfing club and squad training Harriet has been able to gain a fair edge on this, even entering a number of competitions and placing highly against girls and boys in her age group. Her core skills are very good and is learning new tricks, turns and moves every time she goes out – many of which she tries to pass on to me.

The last couple of summers have seen us back out in Southern California, where we stayed in the beach cities of San Clemente and Oceanside. Both places have miles and miles of accessible sandy beaches, with good consistent waves and consequently very active surf scenes.

In July and August, they each play host to ocean festivals which attract some of the best surfers in the state and consequently, skill levels are extremely high and competition is very tight. Most of the video footage I currently have posted on Gallery pages was captured in the days running up to the Oceanside festival in July last year when a big swell came in and so the competitors were able to get a lot of good practice in.

We actually went out the first day that the swell started coming in, when it was probably about 8-10ft and it was too big for us – with the foamboards we had it was very difficult to get beyond the breaking water as it’s nigh on impossible to duck-dive through and make ground. On the occasions we did manage to get over, it took so much energy that we’d spend 15 mins getting our breath back before looking for a wave.

In the midst of this I caught what for me was monster and had a superb ride – for the first time ever, I did a proper down the face, back up, down again before I wiped out. I got totally mashed by the broken water and didn’t really know where I was until I finally came up for air, but the ear-to-ear grin answered any questions about whether it was worth it and was I all right. The next one tipped me straight in, treated me to a washing-machine-like, double 360 under the water and so we both agreed “it’s a bit big for us”, so we headed to the shore, dumped the boards and wave dodged instead.

Our development was progressing nicely 🙂

Our evolution

Being in these areas gave us access to some of the best surfing beaches in the area from Encinitas, Swami’s, San Elijo and Carlsbad in the Oceanside area up to San Onofre, Doheny and Trestles around San Clemente.

For us, our favourite beach was Doheny, over towards the harbour wall as the waves were consistent and not too menacing. On a number of occasions we caught the same wave and having done our tricks and turns were able to high-five each other before jumping off – a trick which earned us a number of “Woops” from the beach.

Smiling usually happens after being in the water