I think we can all agree it's been a year like no other. After spending most of last winter and this spring locked away in our homes, a summer of freedom meant that it was one of the busiest in living memory in the south west, with some towns reporting four times more visitors than previous years. Of course, the draw of the dramatic coastline with beaches exposed to Atlantic swells mean many of these visitors came for surf. Problem was, there wasn't any! In early September oceanographers confirmed that this summer had in fact seen the longest flat spell for thirteen years. The North Atlantic is seasonal, yes, with storms battering the coasts of Devon and Cornwall in the winter and calmer waters in the summer. But even throughout the summer months it's rare for some of the west facing beaches to not have a least one surf-able day a week!
Having made it through the wave drought, in mid-September the Atlantic finally kicked back in to life and with it, so did every surfer within a 200-mile radius. The first few days of swell and the line ups were packed. With this overcrowding in mind, myself and photographer Ross decided to head out on an early morning mission deep in West Cornwall to make the most of these first glimpses of autumnal action and hopefully avoid any pile ups!
We arrived at the beach car park just before dawn broke, squinting through the darkness to work out how good the waves were and chatting about how much of an awful summer of surf, or lack of it, it had been, before suiting up and heading for the water. A fresh southerly wind was grooming the waves as they approached the beach, creating clean 2-3ft surf. Surprisingly, after the previous few days of crowded line ups, today was much quieter. With only a few others out we were able to find a peak pretty much to ourselves and enjoy an hour or so of much anticipated wave riding before work!
ZULUDIVER 1960s Swiss style divers watch strap robustly ensuring I have the time with me in the water.
Written by Chris Weston
Photos by Ross Taylor