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why you should surf all year
Are you a fair weather surfer? Winter a bit too wintry for your delicate sensibilities?
At time of writing, mid-spring, in old money late April, the ocean temp out front of Orca Towers is all of 12C. Which is not what you’d call balmy. On the east coast it’s 10C. It’s what you’d call, sans twat cap, ‘Ooh sh@t my head feels like it’s imploding’.
Conversely in Barbados, where I got dragged kicking and screaming for a piece this issue, the wet bit is currently 27C. Now that is pleasurable. Even with the attendant sunburn and urchin risk.
I often wonder how different the surf culture would be in the isles of the Atlantic we call home if the temperature was that notch higher year round. Would we have world champions? Would the European surf industry have clustered here instead of Hossegor? Would it be impossibly busy? Or would we just be a more tan race of weather-obsessed, island dwellers?
There’s no question that putting on some boardshorts, or a bikini, and grabbing your board and jumping in the brine is easier, quicker and cheaper, than our rubber besuited version. But it’s the commitment to the cause that makes us different. Struggling into a winter suit is comical. Dancing out of a spring suit without filling it with sand is a ninth dan surfer skill.
Wetsuits are a double-edged sword: no one looks good in a wetsuit, but conversely they’re a pretty good all-body girdle, so if you’re a bit soft around the edges don’t be put off. They are, in fact, slimming. Hell they even make me look like I’ve got a six-pack.
Forgive the ramble, there’s been a vicious spring flat spell on the left side of the land recently, and I’m coming back off a winter long shoulder injury that’s kept me out the salt. It’s easy to take surfing for granted when everything is going well.
When you definitely can’t do it because:
a) your physio expressly forbids it, unless you really want your shoulder to turn to angry inflamed dust
b) you’re stuck inland
c) there’s been no waves forever
d) life just gets in the way
The frustration is hard to take. Which loops me neatly to the start of this tumble of words. Winter isn’t that much colder than summer. Spring can be just as cold as winter. It’s snowing in Scotland right now just to reinforce my point. You might as well surf all year. It’s better for your surfing, it’s better for you, and any time spent in the brine is a joyous escape from the stresses of being a land-based mammal in the twenty-first century. Take every opportunity you can to be in the sea. Whatever the weather. Trust me. You won’t regret it…
The North Coast is famed for incredible surf spots and whether you are an experienced pro or a total beginner, there is a location ideal for all abilities.
Cornwall is no doubt one of the most popular locations to take to the waves. There are many popular surfing destinations throughout the region that are particularly great for people learning this exhilarating sport. For those that know their messy waves to swell directions, Cornwall also offers an ideal spot to perfect your technique.
The summer season brings everyone out in their masses to capture a piece of the action but autumn is actually one of the best times to surf. The less crowded beaches mixed with relatively mild air and warmer sea temperatures (thanks to our relative proximity of the gulf stream pushing up water from the southern Atlantic Ocean) give you a great chance to catch those regular swells. So, if you’re heading to Cornwall on a surfing holiday or you’re looking to learn the basics on a family break, here are 10 fantastic family surf escapes in Cornwall’s finest locations.
The Light House
Experience luxury alongside North Cornwall’s coastline at a stay in The Light House in Bude. Get family and friends together, and take to the waves at the beautiful choice of nearby sandy beaches and discover a stunning contemporary coastal home designed and built by owners who have featured on the TV show Grand Designs. Indulge in this relaxing surf stay and feel the sand between your toes with just a short walk to the glorious Atlantic shores.
Atlantic Bliss at Zenith
For a stylish stay, just a stone’s throw from Whipsiderry and Porth beach, this cool coastal apartment is the ideal surf retreat. Here you’ll enjoy spectacular sea views, contemporary accommodation, and easy access to plenty of attractions and the best surfing spots in the county. Atlantic Bliss at Zenith also bases you in an ideal location to enjoy the surf hub of Newquay, home to Fistral Beach. The whole family will love this incredibly exciting stay with top conditions to take to your board.
Overlooking the bay of Crackington Haven, you’ll find this little gem just a short walk from the stunning sandy Cornish shores. Here you can enjoy a tranquil setting with a charming patio area to enjoy outdoor dining overlooking sea views. This idyllic surf spot is great as it offers a mix of family-friendly surf conditions to waves for the more experienced. Valley Breeze bases you in a fantastic spot to explore further afield too with the nearby locations of Bude and Widemouth Bay just a short drive away.
No 5 The Beach
Kennack Sands, The Lizard
Renowned for its surf school and beautiful sandy beach, Kennack Sands is the idyllic surf haven. So why not treat the family to stay just 900 yards from this stunning coastal spot. No 5 The Beach is a fantastic apartment offering a contemporary setting on the captivating west coast offering you a fantastic base to explore the surrounding area whilst taking to the board and enjoying those Atlantic waves.
Just a short drive from the stunning sands of St Ives, you’ll find an idyllic bolthole offering spectacular uninterrupted views and boutique accommodation. Rosecott is a charming reverse level property providing the perfect spot to explore the west coast and the exhilarating surfing beaches that surround you. St Ives itself is a surfing mecca for families, with Porthmeor beach providing a large stretch to take to the waves. If you’re looking for some expert advice, head to the nearby surf school for equipment hire and lessons.
Although the south coast of Cornwall isn’t a premiere destination to head out on the waves, Falmouth is a brilliant place for beginners and families looking to enjoy a relaxed surfing break. Overlooking the harbour, Perfect View provides a beautiful stay enjoying contemporary accommodation with a spectacular decking area for perfect al fresco dining. This idyllic bolthole bases you in an ideal spot to enjoy the nearby surfing beaches of Swanpool, Gyllngvase and Maenporth which produce some half decent waves in the right conditions.
Explore the exquisite west coast on a surf stay at The Puffin in Mullion. This south-facing property situates you at a stunning cliff-top location overlooking the ocean and bases you just a short drive from the beautiful National Trust beach of Poldhu. After a long day catching those west coast waves, you can relax in the tranquility of this comfortable accommodation and get the family together for an evening meal on the outside decked area.
Well House Barn
This boutique-style retreat is ideal for soaking up the best of the North Cornwall coastline. Placing you within easy reach of top surf spots including Polzeath and Widemouth Bay, this tranquil cottage offers the ultimate rural and coastal mix. Nestled in the Valency Valley yet just a few miles from the Atlantic Coast, this contemporary barn creates a warming ambience and relaxing surf escape for the whole family.
Treat family and friends to the ultimate indulgent surfing retreat with a stay at Miners in Carharrack. Basing you just a few miles from the golden sands of Portreath and Porthtowan, this breath-taking spot offers a relaxing stay with an idyllic mix of rural and coastal experiences. You’ll enjoy spacious accommodation with a contemporary vibe and take advantage of a relaxing hot tub, warming log burner and spacious balcony with seating overlooking amazing countryside views.
If you’re looking for a secluded spot nestled in the Cornish countryside yet want to take advantage of North Cornwall’s best surf beaches, a family break in this spacious and contemporary farmhouse is the idyllic choice. You’re only a few minutes’ drive to the sandy shores that adorn the coastline including the family-friendly surf beaches of Fistral, Crantock, Holywell Bay and Perranporth. With comfortable accommodation and large outside space for al fresco dining, Martins Place is a great place to get the whole family together on an adventurous surf escape.
Being a Surf Instructor is possibly one of the best jobs you can have as a surfer.
Not only do you get to spend every day on the beach, you can manage it so you work during summers and escape the winters travelling. You can also get jobs abroad, or in surf camps right across the globe. On top all that you get the rewards of seeing the faces of super stoked pupils who you have helped get to their feet. It’s the perfect job for students at college or university or during their gap year.
We asked the people in the know what’s involved in becoming a surf instructor and take a look at courses on offer.
Ticket to Ride
Chris, how do you become a surf instructor?
There are several different elements to becoming a surf instructor. Firstly of course you need to be a good enough surfer. The basic requirements are to be able to ride left and right on unbroken waves in 1 – 1.5m waves with control. Next up you have to sign up for both a surf coaching course and a lifesaving course. The most popular Surf Coaching course is the ISA Level 1 course which is a two-day course incorporating both theory and practical elements of the course. After completing the course you will need to do 20 hours of coaching at a surf school during which you will practice delivering the lesson and be observed completing a surf lesson at the end by the head coach. You will also need to complete either a Lifeguard course or Surf Lifeguard course as stipulated by the ISA.
Steve, do you need any experience before you take a course?
You need to be a competent and confident surfer and to love see others learn and develop. You can get this by spending time in the water surfing a range of different types of breaks and areas.
It is a good idea to get some experience teaching surfing, the best way to do this is to assist on some lessons at your local break (be sure to choose a recognised surf school who are teaching to a syllabus and maintaining high standards of instruction). You will get an idea of how a lesson is broken down and what sort of help and support beginners really need when they are learning. You should then book onto a surf instructor course, there are a number of different organisations who offer courses but in essence they are all fairly similar. During the course you will learn how to plan and deliver a surfing lesson and how best to teach a range of surfing related subjects. Depending on the qualification you take you may then need to log a number of hours working alongside an experienced coach, confirm when you have done this then spending the summer on the beach in the waves teaching the sport you love.
The Academy of Surfing Instructors (ASI)
Tania, what qualifications do you need?
To be a surf instructor you need a minimum Level 1 Surfing Instructor, current surf rescue, current first aid certificates. An ASI Level 1 Surfing Instructor qualification enables you to deliver, plan and assess beginner to intermediate surfing sessions in beginner level surf locations: surf no larger than 1½ft (½ metre) and Intermediate level surf locations: surf up to 3ft (1 metre).
In the UK and some countries you can hold a Surf Lifesaving certificate which includes both surf rescue and first aid. And in some countries, like Australia you may also need to hold a Working with Oxygen certificate. If you are working with children, you need to hold a working with children background check. But only a few countries worldwide have this, like UK and Australia. The minimum age to take the courses is 16 years old. However, instructors under 18 years cannot deliver lessons to adults on their own. There must have another adult instructor, supervising or nearby.
SURF INSTRUCTOR courses
ASI – Academy of Surfing Instructors
The ASI is the world’s leading professional membership, education and accreditation body for surfing, SUP and bodyboarding. Operating in over 20 countries, instructor careers range from Level 1-Level 5 Master Coach with continuing professional development. ASI accredited instructors attain skills and competencies to work in any location throughout the world.
Dates: From March – November in the UK, March – December in Portugal, late April in Netherlands
Prices: From £240 – £260
Location: Northern Ireland, Cornwall, Devon, Wales, Portugal, Netherlands, Israel, Australia, USA, Canada and the Americas. For more information on courses available and where head to: www.academyofsurfing.com/surfing/courses
Epic Gap Year
We’ve hand sourced the best Surf Instructor Training courses across the world including South Africa, Morocco and Australia so you can go live the dream with a world recognised certification! All of which are suitable whether you’ve had a few lessons or are already confident in the water. Plus save £100 on any surf instructor training course using the code CARVE100
Dates: Morocco – Jan and Sept / South Africa – Jan and Sept / Australia – starts every Monday, year round
Location: Morocco, South Africa, Australia
Prices: From £4275
H2O Training Ltd
We run high quality courses including Surf Lifesaving Awards, Outdoor 1st Aid and specialist safety and rescue training for coasteering and kayaking. If you love watersports as much as we do and are looking for supportive, professional education from people with years of industry experience then please get in touch.
Dates: SLSGB Surf Coach Lifesaving, Outdoor 1st Aid and Coasteer Safety & Rescue courses are available from March – August in Cornwall and Scotland. Head to: www.h2otraining.co.uk/calendar/
Location: Cornwall and Scotland
Price: 1st aid courses from £80 and Surf Lifesaving course from £250 (all prices include NGB membership and registration fees).
Become an accredited surf instructor with Mojosurf Academy and open up the opportunity to live and work by the beach around the world. There is no better place to develop your surf skills than at Mojosurf Spot X Surf Camp where you will eat, sleep and breathe surfing with some of the best surf instructors in Australia.
Dates: The 5 Day Great Aussie Surf Adventure is included in all Surf Academy programs which run every Monday from Sydney, Byron Bay or Brisbane to Spot X Surf Camp (transfers included)
Prices: 1 month surf
development $3360 AUD
2 month surf development $5950 AUD
3 month surf instructor course $7950 AUD + $1000 AUD local payment for certification & accreditation
10% off bookings april-june 2017/2018
This Australian surf development programme caters for complete beginners – pro surfers who want to develop their surfing skills to a level where they can take on surf instructor courses. Enjoy learning from professional instructors and experience practical sessions, theoretical sessions and fitness training. Develop pre-existing surf skills or learn something new within a friendly, family atmosphere.
Dates: You can take part from between 2-12 weeks throughout the year.
14 Day Surf Camp £1380
4 week course £2126
8 week course £4127
12 week course £5998
Surf Berbere Surf Instructor Course in Morocco is an amazing way to experience a fantastic culture. Throughout the 12 week course in Taghazout, you will train to become a surf instructor, learn French, teach English in local schools, and qualify to be a Level 1 Surf Coach.
9th September – 2nd December, 2017
6th January – 31st March, 2018
Prices: £4,500 or £4,275 with early bird discount
Solid Surf House
Had enough of your 9-5 job? Change your life and become a surf teacher! At Solid Surf House we offer a 12 week Surf Instructor Course in Canggu, a cool, chilled out ‘surfy’ village on the west coast of Bali. After 12 weeks you will be an ISA certified teacher.
Bali 12 week course:
1st September 17 / 1st December 17 / 1st March 18
Bali 8 week course:
1st October 17 / 1st January 18 / 1st April
More dates 2018 T.B.C
Prices: 8 week course £2,990 or 12 week course £4,350. Incl. Stay in villa + Pool, ISA course, lifesaving course, breakfasts + BBQ, flight (see T&C) surf trips, excursions and more.
Ticket to Ride
This is your real zero to hero instructor course! Whether you already surf or are a complete beginner we’ll take your surfing to a new level and get you ready to pass your surf instructor and lifeguard courses by the time you reach week 9 of your 10-week, 8 location, road trip of a lifetime in South Africa.
Date: 11 Sept – 20th Nov 2017 and 19th Jan – 23 March 2018
Price: Starting from £4595
Location: South Africa