Travel: Surf's up but town is down in Newquay
May 15 2012 John Sutton
CINEMA vampire (and object of your teenage daughter’s affections) Robert Pattinson. Heiress and spender of all her daddy’s cash Tamara Ecclestone. The ancient Polynesians. And me.
We’re all Stand Up Paddle Boarders, albeit in different places. The ancients did it to get around their Pacific island network, R-Patz and Tamara do it in hot places with private beaches only open to themselves and invited paparazzi, whereas I do it on the River Gannel.
Where Newquay is known as a surfer’s paradise there’s more to it than just riding waves, as instructor Tim told me while we messed about on the river during a gorgeous spring evening, saying a polite hello to kayakers, fishermen and others using the waterway before sundown.
SUPing is the fastest growing water sport in the UK, don’tcha know, and it’s easy to see why.
Even for a lofty malco-ordinate like me, staying upright isn’t too difficult, and once you get the hang of it (and a favourable tide) you can pootle around a river or a bay for hours, or go hell for leather riding waves and racing just like the pros do.
Newquay is the country’s capital of surfing, and host of champions on its epic Fistral Beach. The surf there gets really big, but luckily when we tried to be surfer dudes the swell was a little more modest.
That was a good thing, as Miss was trying out the sport for the very first time. I’m a seasoned veteran, I explained to Tom, our instructor, and promptly embarrassed myself by falling about like a prat for a couple of hours while my good lady came on leaps and bounds.
There were plenty of groups being taught how to surf, but the beach is big enough to cope with them all. And novices ride big, buoyant foam boards anyway, so collisions shouldn’t be too painful.
Our teacher and his colleagues are all surfer dudes who live for the sport, and when the summer season finishes in the West Country tend to head abroad and hang 10 in sunnier climes.
The tuition was great, an excellent taster session where complete beginners can really make progress to standing or semi standing and be willing to give wave riding another go – that’s what Miss said anyway, she can’t wait to come on a surfing trip to North Wales with me in January...
It’s knackering though, so the massage afterwards was just what was needed to soothe those aching limbs.