Llangennith Surf Trip
Written by Clive Passingham
I had been with PaddlePlus for about three months when Anthony mentioned a surfing trip. I was quite interested so I put my name down on the list to go.
It was then that people started to ask if I could roll? No, was the answer. Have you ever been on white water? No, I replied, therefore I set myself a challenge, that I should be able to roll before the planned weekend. On the last club night before the trip, after some practice and with Jim’s help, I managed to roll a few times. I was ready, or so I thought.
Upon arrival on the Saturday morning at Llangennith, the group had a bit of a meeting to agree the plan of action, we all kitted up (except for Stephen who had managed to forget his buoyancy aid amongst other things) and set off for the beach. It was about 300 yards to the beach and when we crested the last sand dune, the others shouted cheers of excitement. But I was not so sure, my apprehension increased as the waves were about 4 feet high, with the surf breaking about 75 yards from the beach.
Before I knew it, I was in my kayak as were the others, making our way out into the surf. I found myself paddling forwards for about 10 yards between each wave, only to be sent back what seemed to be 9 yards each time a wave hit me. Keeping my balance as each wave came through was also very difficult. I paddled out for some distance, and whilst I was thinking about turning around and attempting my first surf back, a big wave appeared (well it was big for me). I knew this was going to be difficult and I managed to crest the wave, only to capsize. I made one to effort to roll back up but I rushed it and when the next wave hit, this disorientated me totally. I decided it was time to bail. I was exhausted after recovering and emptying my kayak, so I sat on the beach for a while whilst I got my breath back.
My next few outings were not quite so adventurous, I only went out about 50 yards and managed to get a few surfs back into shore, it was amazing! There you are pointing your kayak into shore looking behind you for a wave to pick up on. A few yards before it arrives you start paddling into shore as fast and as hard as you can and with a bit of luck you will be picked up by the wave and launched forwards, the acceleration is unbelievable..
At around 12:00 we all came into shore as everyone was worn out, no one could believe that we had only been surfing for just 90 minutes. We locked the kayaks together on the beach and went back to our vehicles for an extended lunch break, no one was in any rush to get back.
We went back down to the beach for another session around 2.30pm, by now the tide had gone out and the surf was a bit smaller. I found it so much easier and was getting used to the idea of surfing becoming more adventurous. I was really enjoying myself having forgotten what happened that morning. A few of us remained until 6:00 that evening, I was exhausted but had thoroughly enjoyed the day. We returned to the campsite for a hot shower, a BBQ and a few drinks!!
Next day there was very little wind and we all knew that there would not be much surf. After breakfast we all had a walk down to the beach only to confirm our disappointment, with a surf of about 1 foot high. We all went back to the campsite to decide what to do, suggestions were to wait a while to see if it improves, to go to Simmonds Yat or simply go home. Almost an hour passed and we were in danger of making no decision at all, when someone suggested we all get kitted up and go down to the beach.
When we arrived, the surf had indeed improved and we got straight on. For me this was easy and I was able to learn a lot as time progressed, the surf was also improving all the time. At one point, Kev and myself were on the same wave and crashed into each other, we just laughed at our total lack of control - only for it to happen again five minutes later. I had two further capsizes, on one I was able to push off the bottom with the paddle and on the other I was in such shallow water that I was able to push off with my hand.
At lunchtime we all came in and went back to the camp site, packed up and set off for home. We were all exhausted, both my passengers Jim and Anthony slept most of the way home.
I personally enjoyed the whole weekend apart from my first encounter, which I have now put behind me. I learnt a great deal and found it both exciting and exhilarating. Despite my lack of experience, I coped reasonably well, it’s something that needs to be experienced because no matter how I describe it, words alone cannot do it justice.
My name is certainly going to be on the list for the next surfing trip and I would recommend it to paddlers at the club who have done all the basics, just expect to go for a swim occasionally.