What? Can you even surf in England? Are you crazy? – What I usually hear.
We’ve all got the image in our minds. Blonde tousled hair, tanned, toned (this is man or woman by the way), most probably Californian or Australian. Kelly Slater (minus the hair…), Stephanie Gilmore (my girl crush), Alana Blanchard (the girl you hate due to her perfect bum), I could go on.
Instead I prise myself away from daydreaming about these professional surfers and looking at their equally enviable instagram accounts to bring you… prepare yourself, now… the glitz and glamour of surfing in England. I can see the tumbleweed now.
But let me tell you something. It is as cold as you think. No, it’s not that bad. There are just a few things you have to remember – in a completely non-serious tone, but I’m sure there are some actual lessons in here somewhere. And like that all time favourite saying: what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.
Check your wetsuit for holes. When you’re surfing with your university (University of East Anglia) and funds are low, chances are wetsuits won’t have been replaced for a while. Ironically, the year I left, the request for new ones was accepted. Damn. I had the shockingly typical luck to have a hole in the crotch of my wetsuit. I’m proud to say I powered through/there was no spare wetsuit, and that initial gush of water through the hole… Oh my. What a wake up call!
Note: You soon get very used to it. Although it’s exactly what a wetsuit is meant to guard you against, so I would probably recommend an intact wetsuit. But you know, each to their own.
Best hangover cure, ever. University trip/surfing with friends + a night out/in drinking + surfing in the morning = better. All better. Force yourself to get out of bed and on that board, because I still remember my worst surf trip hangover and the surf the morning after. Paddling out you’re thinking “No, no, no, don’t, stop water, please, not me, take someone else down, anyone, I’m too fragile”, but when the wave inevitably thrusts itself in your face, you emerge the other side with only a smile wiped on. Refreshed, revitalised and raring to go.
Trust me, it’s an amazing feeling.
You’re probably going to look very silly. I want to be as sexy as the next surfer, but it doesn’t tend to happen in England. The only thing you have control over is getting a well fitted wetsuit. You will still look like a fish out of water or a drunk Bambi trying to put it on. You might be told to put on one of those wetsuit hoods on. Unless it’s absolutely necessary, don’t. Or actually do if I get to see you, because it’s hilarious.
Lastly, cold water has a tendency to make you look a lot redder than the warm seas of Sydney or Bali (you get to look a lot sexier then). It also causes facial expressions after a wipeout to be contorted into some vision you didn’t think you were capable of.
But surfers in England: you are beautiful. Surfing in England is kind of like being English ourselves: a little bit awkward, sort of funny and we’re moaning about the cold, but we’re bloody well getting on with it and it makes us tougher (and that fraction more sarcastic and self-deprecating).