There was a moment last Sunday morning (Aug 5)
which just about summed up how dreadful 2007 has been for the Wolls on the whole. The day before we'd enjoyed an adrenaline-fuelled couple of hours or so at Godrevy (Jnr in particular!), before moving on to Camborne to see our beloved Pirates take on Leicester in a pre-rugby season friendly. All in all a feeling of contentment prevailed as we drove back up to Poundstock with a glorious evening sunset to enjoy, and the promise of some more big waves the next morning.
We rose reasonably sharpish by our holiday-mode standards, and made our way the short distance to Widemouth. As expected the large, clean swell was still there and pounding the shore with intent. Ben and me suited up hurriedly though with an air of nervous expectation, no doubt built up by the respect that such conditions command. Waterside it was clear that the need to evade the heavy shore dump was the first priority; beyond that, then the paddle out would be arduous but not beyond our capabilities. Ben more so aware of this, after his exploits at Godrevy less than 24 hours earlier.
Patience and timing would be in order and, as is the way of things, a gap appeared to arise which we pounced upon. For a couple of minutes we seemed to be on the verge of a breakthrough even if the secondary shoredump hampered progress. Then a 'rogue' loomed in front of us and all my efforts to see it past came to no avail leaving me spat out and on my butt in the shallows.
Ben had missed the worst of it, but when I made to retrieve my board the vision was soul-destroying. The 'old faithful' lay strangely in the swirling water as if something was amiss. The reality quickly dawned as I began to comprehend the vision relayed by my eyes. My Hobie templated 9'3" was for all intents and purposes now in two pieces; completely snapped just ahead of the fin box, and held together by only a slither of the decks' outer glassing
Irrational thoughts flooded in as I contemplated the remainder of the holiday sat on the beach, watching others enjoy the waves without me. Maybe I was being punished for some reason? Perhaps fate was getting 'her' own back for that wipeout the previous Tuesday (Jul 31)
, when my back foot failed to make firm contact with the deck of Ben's board (we'd swapped minutes before), and sent a 9'+ trajectory towards an out-coming female surfer. If you're reading this-unreserved apologies again and I still feel sheepish about it. After effectively ten months out of the water, my take offs were still very rusty on occasion, and this was one of them! :o(
Either way, this particular session was over before it began as Ben followed me back to the van, obviously worried that something similar might befall him. Suz returned soon after having taken the hound for a gallop and we quickly gathered up our gear and drove into Bude to see what, if anything could be done. Optimistically, Ben and I stayed suited up even if it was case of a board share scenario. First thing though was a chat with Nigel in Zuma's
to see if it was repairable. One or two at Widemouth had suggested it was, though it was clear this was not going to happen in the near future.
Eight days earlier (Sat Jul 28)
, such thoughts couldn't have been further from the mind as we pulled into the car park at Widemouth after our leisurely drive down overnight. Unlike previous trips down like this, there had been no real hurry as conditions weren't sparkling, and an early drop off of periphery gear at our digs was not possible this time. Hope of a mellow clean wave in the week leading up hadn't quite materialised. Indeed, with a receding tide and an unfavourable breeze, we decided to wait until after low tide (11.39) before going in.
The first dip for an hour so didn't produce much with both Ben and me way off the pace. I only managed three waves of sorts to Ben's one, thus making it clear there was a lot of effort needed to catch up for lost time. Our paddling out had improved some though, and we'd both made it out in conditions that were not too dissimilar to those of three weeks previously. Around 4pm we went back in for another hour as conditions began to clean up a little, but the wave count remained well below par (5-1 in my favour overall ;o) ). Not unsurprisingly our intended Dad v Son, fortnight-long surf challenge was put on hold for a day; this counting only as a pre-contest 'warm up'. mmmmmnnnnnn..........
Sunday (Jul 29)
marked a bit a turnaround in fortunes and ambiance as the day progressed. The morning was again messy and so us chaps put off any thoughts of getting wet until later in the day. Suz therefore pounced at the chance at going in first and enjoyed everything to hand for the hour or so she was in the sea. Lunch was taken and Steveo from the Widemouth surfcam message board arrived with his family to swell the ranks. Stephh and Evie also turned up for parade.
The tide had now reached mid push as Ben, myself and Steveo paddled out around 3pm in conditions that were improving quickly despite a light and gusty NW breeze! The waves were now cleaner and showing a bit more size to them and at last we found a rhythm hitherto lost to us both. Steveo's company may have been the factor, who knows? But a reminder of some pleasing times a year sooner may have been in the back of our minds and spurred us both on to better things. Son and father shared over two dozen waves in the couple of hours or so we were in, this time in Juniors favour and kicking the competition off in the process.
More importantly, it was Suz who noticed from the clifftop a return to a visible bonding in the water; a factor sadly missing of late. He and I could be seen to be more relaxed with each other, and enjoying the company and the banter not experienced for way too long! Ben's demeanour at last looked and felt more at ease with the world. Throw in a dose of summer at last and the promise of Steveo's company the next day too, and it was fair to say that all felt well, even if concerns with my mother back in Lincs were still evident.
Monday (Jul 30)
dawned bright, sunny and warm and had been earmarked for 'other things' in the morning. Plans quickly altered though as Ben confirms our suspicions having cycled to the vantage point about there being some very mellow longboardable waves on offer. The van is primed ready on his return and we're parked up and getting organised before 9am. Steveo isn't far behind and sets up camper van camp next to us with those 1-2' and super clean waves luring us over all else!
The paddle out is a doddle for once and all three of us are into our strides immediately, particularly as the masses still haven't shown up. With hopes of even better things later once the tide has turned and evening beckons, we're only in for an hour or so before getting out for a bite to eat. Even in such a short space of time Ben and I once more racked up over two dozen rides between us, again in the formers favour; but we don't care as things have once again fallen into place.
Around 3pm and it is clear that conditions may actually be deteriorating for the duration. This however is compensated by the arrival of some dolphins, perhaps as many as nine(?), who make their way majestically from south to north before disappearing.
A couple of hours later and Ben and me decided to go back in regardless of the conditions after saying au revoir to Steveo & Co. High tide wasn't far off (17.50) and there was only a testing shoredump worth playing with. Ignoring the obvious risk to damaging boards, we eventually got into a routine and snagged a further 30 plus rides which followed a similar pattern-namely a banzai take off over shallow water close in--quick ride--smack! This made more easier to put up with, with the continuing summery spell.
The following morning (Jul 31)
, we were surprised to find a 1-2' and clean as a whistle wave, being gently fanned by an offshore breeze. A novelty to us in recent times and something we made the most of for just short of two hours before the breeze veered and we got out some forty rides to the good between us. By now the competitive element was creeping in more and more and we started to push each other accordingly.
I hooked up on a particularly pleasing long wave to begin proceedings which triggered Ben to start experimenting once he'd got a couple or so under his belt. Not to be outdone, this inspired me to cross-step up to the badge on a couple of occasions at least without quite managing to cheat a '5'.
Fatigue towards the end of the session, combined with a change of boards did, as previously mentioned, cause the uncharacteristic lapse on my part. This contributed to my calling it a day for the time being to re-group and recover.
Later in the early evening with high tide now nearing I went back in to the north end of the beach over the small reef outcrop I'd last surfed in 2005. I eventually got things back in sync' and enjoyed a short session which saw me capture another 9-10 notable rides. Strangely, the only times I missed waves or went ride less was when Ben & Suz came over to watch from the shoreline. Odd that!
Wednesday (Aug 1)
almost followed a similar pattern if for the fact the wave size had decreased, and with it any punch. We walked out to the lineout and made the best of it while there was little or no wind. We repeated the feats numerically of the day before and even shared some water time with local hero Pete Ash, before things not unexpectedly poo-ed out.
Thursday and Friday (Aug 2-3)
subsequently became the only two days where Ben and I didn't go in, though Suz did to continue her own personal campaign for water time.