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continued from posting 16-9-08 below...........

Maybe Widdy (Friday 5th) would be worth a peep on our way back. You bet yer granny on was brewing nicely.....

Upon pulling into the car park around 4.15 it was clear there was something very interesting brewing. What little breeze there was, was offshore, and looked to be dropping completely; and as for the swell well. It was as clean as you'd like and building nicely as the tide began to turn.

We watched for a while, in between intermittent wiping of the windscreen to clear the rain off and waited. I cracked first nearly seconds later, but my plans were put on hold as it was realised there were no towels in the van. Luckily our digs are not far away and we dashed back for a couple...just as the car park attendant locked up his shed and set off in his van. Thoughts of being able to skip the parking fee did occur but it was the juice that was focusing attention.

Tens minutes later and my suiting up is resumed and quickly completed. At the waters edge I have already plotted my paddle out which goes to plan requiring only a concerted effort late on to clear the next set rumbling in. I position myself mid beach with an eye to move more towards the Black Rock end as soon as I ethically can.

The first action was only moments away, and set the tone for my session perfectly as I stroked into a lovely head high plus left with so much ease it was frightening. Why do I sometimes struggle even now? Paddling back into the lineup it was great to feel part of an excellent vibe which I hoped Ben wouldn't be long joining in with. It was simple really; just let her know the surf is insane and there'll be time to chat later...surely?

As it was I clocked him paddling out less than half an hour later than I had and one good right almost immediately soon put us in a similar spot together. By this time I'd had a good half dozen waves notched up but then this evening it was about quality over quantity.

In between my own successes there was the fantastic sight of one surfer hooking one of the bigger lefts further over and out, and then proceeding to pull off a headstand! Moments later and I saw him from the other side of the wave now in a more normal stance before bailing to great cheers.

Perhaps I was spurred on as shortly after I took off and into a lively wave during which I ducked into a cover up proper possibly for the first time ever. Was I stoked? You betcha! The penalty thus was allowing myself to stay on too long and get caught inside for way longer than advised. It took me a good 10-15 mins to reposition and certainly required a rest in the saddle upon completion.

I'd noted Ben's own successes which explained the obvious delight on his face which was still visible as the light now began to fade. He opted to ride his next one in while I reckoned on a couple more first before actually deciding to do just as he when I popped up on my last wave.

Feeling very smug upon being altogether again we felt grateful for this gem as prospects didn't look good. The weather was set to deteriorate overnight and even when it did settle some come Sunday, there'd be no swell to speak of. There was also the question of an injury to a toe on my right foot, picked up on take off to one my early waves on Friday evening. Adrenaline had obviously dulled any pain but by the time I'd got into the shower back at base, the toe had swollen and was still bleeding.

It had happened quite freakishly as it'd caught on some wax as I popped up, and tucked underneath the foot as I put weight down on it. At the time I'd thought nothing much of it other than hoping it didn't trip me up and lose the wave, and besides I'd corrected it during the ride when weight was shifted to my back foot.

Over the weekend I'd been hobbling around and was beginning to wonder whether I'd done something to warrant a visit to Strattons A&E to go 2-1 up over Ben on this circumstance. As it turned out by Monday (8th) I did at least manage to paddle out into perhaps the crappiest, smallest waves possible at Widemouth. Ben and I didn't hang around too long out there as it was that bad, but at least the toe; protected by a boot, had at least stood up OK. The question now though was would it be fit enough to take on any of the promised big swell later in the week.

The next chance of a test came on the Weds (10th) when I correctly followed my instinct to find enough shelter from the S-SW breeze at Crackington. This proved a good call as the valley above the Haven was acting as a funnel to the breeze inland and creating in effect offshore conditions; at least within the shelter of the cliffs. Ben and I certainly caught the best of it earlier on and although there weren't many good rides to be had, there was enough to play with before getting in just before HT at 3pm-ish as the quality and size both backed off. Suz too got in for the only time this week as it turned out, although rock dodging was the order of the day for her.

On Thursday (11th) we made a last minute decision to meet up with Jen in St Ives. The swell had picked up as Hannah did her bit out in the Atlantic and a persistent SW would undoubtedly make Harlyn the only local prospect. Maybe Porthmeor would do the biz?

We eventually parked up above the town and wandered down the steep descent to the meeting point in front of the Tate without any gear. Suz had gone on ahead and so Ben and me didn't get our first view of the open sea until just after midday and what a sight it was! Porthmeor was pumping and easily double overhead on the bigger sets which seemed relentless in their own right, and it was offshore! Waiting for Suz to return I started to get twitchy. This was bigger than anything I'd been into before; even Praa Sands of a few years back. Should I trek all the way back up to the van and get changed? Or should I bottle it?

Ben wasn't making keen noises though, claiming his concerns over keeping his board in one piece. A valid point given my own misfortune 13 months previously, but I suspect it was more to do with going back up that hill and back down again all geared up twice! The green light went on for me after greeting Jen when Suz and her returned.

By half one I was stood before the heavy shore dump and admittedly a little nervous of what lay ahead. Half an hour later and having been unceremoniously spat out onto the beach yet again I was beginning to wonder if this wasn't going to go down as nothing more than a brave but embarrassing failure.

I repositioned to a central spot on the beach and took a deep breath for one more valiant attempt. This time I found a gap and was able to break through the whitewater only a mere ten minutes later. Now came the real deal as I sat just beyond the peaks and surveyed the scene. A further half hour passed as I watched and took mental notes and continually paddled around to find a comfortable spot. I knew I would get one or two real chances and was keen not get in anyones way or screw up.

Then came the first shadow with my name on and there was no time to think. I swivelled round, looked over both shoulders and went for it. The board began to slide and I popped up and waited for the drop only to feel the wave begin to overtake, leaving me stranded atop the crumbling whitestuff and no option but to pull off before getting sucked into oblivion.

My next chance came quickly though and this time an extra stroke before jumping up did the trick and I was away. Surprisingly time stood still and everything felt mellow as I went along this monster with time to look around and plot my route. Seconds later and I had kicked out humming with excitement and keen for more. As it was I managed only one more wave twenty minutes later which I ended up riding in, having decided to quit while ahead. Joining the others who were by now all on the beach watching you better believe I was buzzing.

The only pity following on from this was that I couldn't finish on a similar high surfing wise on the remaining 40 hours or so we had left at 'home'. Our last full day had only the prospect of a late afternoon bash at Summerleaze which of course was better than nothing; whilst my final attempts on Saturday morning at Widdy were nothing short of frustrating as I failed miserably to even get out back in less than challenging if messy onshore stuff. Fatigue was obviously playing it's part but the fact remains that I wouldn't have normally struggled in such conditions and probably only added to the foul mood I drove back up north with.

The previous evening/late afternoon (12th) had at least meant some minor successes but the crowded lineup and the tricky lumpy swell that had developed in the shelter of Barrel Rock weren't what I would have preferred. Ben, when he finally got in had opted for the smaller peaks closer in and perhaps he made the wiser choice as he at least caught more in the way of notable rides. I on the other hand spent too much time moving about seeking a clear run but all too often finding myself out of position at the wrong time, and seemingly conscious when Suz and the camera were doing their bit. It wasn't surprising therefore that I only really grabbed anything notable when she wasn't about. All in all then, a less than satisfying session and the complete antithesis of the unbridled pleasure in Porthia 24 hours earlier.

Thoughts now turn to what plans we can unfold and/or whether a trip down in October is possible. Between now and then lays the prospect of taking advantage of any wavey stuff over at Sandilands et al. I'm not holding my breath.