Wow2: Croyde

What a week. Five days surfing running which could easily have been seven and counting if I didn't have the odd other responsibility getting in the way.

On Thursday I decided to go and surf Croyde for the third time and the first time with overhead sets coming through.

For some reason I decided on this day, that Radio 4 wasn't really getting me psyched up enough on my way to a surf. I fumbled for more dramatic audio invigoration and grabbed a CD of "Wow2" by The Boredoms, one of my favourite CDs, that I haven't listened to in ages, by one of my favourite bands. The exciting blend of thrash/punk/indie rock into a cartoony Japanese frothing music party had me bouncing round the walls of the car: rolling up into Croyde car park listening to Gardeners' Question Time just wouldn't really have cut the mustard.

Funnily enough the cover of Wow2 was pretty appropriate given the icy weather.

Within half an hour in the water at Croyde I'd experienced more than I was ready for. Good grief! Croyde's a different breed of wave. Different species even! You can see walking down the beach the curious undulations of sand which obviously help the waves lump up in the way that they do there. In the waves that I'm used to they pull the water around you in a friendly way, tumble you playfully, behave in a respectable manner. Croyde sucks the frikkin' carpet from under your feet and then throws it violently back in your face. The water boils like white lava and wrenches you around like it's trying to beat you up. There seemed to be a whiff of machismo around Croyde - all the way from the noisy car park to the line-up.

First wave I went for, I was just in the right spot, a guy makes an excitable noise, paddles towards me, says "no" to me and then turns and drops in on me. I caught the wave anyway but then bailed and took three on the head for the trouble. The last wave I got I was right in a barrelling pocket and got dropped in on again. Clearly a bit more hassling goes on at Croyde - or was I just unlucky? I made the mistake of hesitating though. If you stop to think "oooh... I've been dropped in on" you're already fucked.

I felt knocked back. Had a few good rides, couldn't find the speed most of the time (not generating enough speed out of the first bottom turn), felt uncomfortable, nervous. It was the most challenging surf I've been in for a while. What the hell is Pipeline like then? Off the scale. Suddenly my fantasies of getting barrelled have polarised: the experience of the power of barrelling waves has made me think it's never gonna happen, but at the same time the waves are here. Nearby. And I've had a sniff of a barrel or two (I mean I've looked along a nice barrelling wave, caught a glimpse just before the lip's taken my head clean off).

The thing I have to focus on is generating speed along the wave and controlling my position. I lose too much momentum in my first turn. It's not easy, jeez - none of it is, especially with aching shoulders on a fifth consecutive day's surfing. And Croyde's waves move fast! They looked innocuous as they welled up in their oily way and then suddenly they're peaking and you're not ready. Croyde's waves'll catch you with your pants down if you're not careful that's for sure. Now I'm not sure if this surfy journey is going to end up in a barrel or just in a messy foam of trashed fantasies.


  1. Keep at it. The steeper peaks make for easier take offs.


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