Tez has had an epiphany and loves stand up paddle surfing, but has also discovered the lonelyness of the long distance paddle surfer. One of the advantages of the sport is that access to remote off shore breaks is possible with stand up paddle surfing, however it often means you are surfing alone. Does anyone want to join Tez out at Hayling Island ?
First and foremost, I’m a surfer. I have been for years, but I also love windsurfing, and when the decision was taken to move back to the UK, after a number of years working abroad, the South Coast was the venue we decided on. This was a little to do with the fact that most of our friends were here, but also that the windsurfing was good (and my other half is more a windsurfer) and likewise I knew that there was the occasional wave, so that itch could be scratched, as well as my other thirsts being quenched. Basically it was a good move. A compromise if you like, but a good compromise.
Trouble is, we do get wind and wave droughts from time to time, and when we do eventually get surf, it can be pretty gutless, weak and small. It was also a pain having to keep driving to other beaches to get my surf fix. I mean, don’t get me wrong, where we live, on Hayling (Island), we do get waves, sometimes good waves, but the trouble is, they break quite away offshore on the many sandbars that litter our surrounding water. This makes it a royal pain trying to surf here. (It’s a long paddle on a regular surf board! Even big old longboards!) But I’ve always made the most of situations, I mean, we could be living miles away from the coast, so I count my blessings.
But then at the start of last year I went and broke my ankle. I was gutted. All I kept thinking on my way to the hospital was that I wouldn’t be able to surf or sail again! And that scared me. However after a few operations and some serious rehab I was told I could walk and do some light exercise. It was then that my SUP love affair started.
Hobbling about on the beach shortly after my all clear, a certain Mr Jem Hall decided to chip in with some advice…
“Tez mate, you want to get an SUP. Help get that ankle working again, as well as getting you fit for when you can get back in it proper!”
And it got me thinking.
I was aware of them. But like most people, I was sceptical. Sure, I’d seen Laird paddling into some serious waves over in Maui, and that appealed, but to me there seemed to be a lot of emphasis on the flat-water thing in this country, which really didn’t appeal at all!
Now call it fate but a few days later I got the opportunity to try one. For the first five minutes I wasn’t too sure about it, but I quickly got the hang of it and before long, I found myself out by the sand bar where small knee high waves were peeling machine like along the inside section. I decided to try and catch one. Tentatively at first, as I didn’t want to fall off and damage my ankle again! I fluffed it though and the wave passed beneath me. Damn!
However for the next try, I got it together, dropped down the small face, stepped back instinctively into my surfing stance and proceeded to get one of the longest waves I’ve ever had! I was hooked! And in that moment I suddenly realised that this was what it’s all about. I was about a mile and half out to sea riding small but perfect waves all on my own. None of the usual “surf hassle’ that is so prevalent at most beaches in the UK. Just my board, the elements and me. Bliss!
After an hour or so, my ankle started aching and I made the paddle back to shore, where the missus was waiting patiently. I was full of stoke and gabbled on about how we should get one blah blah blah. And a few weeks, later we did!
So for just over a year now I have been riding the waves on the sand bar pretty much on my own. Occasionally, I would be joined by Mark from Andy Biggs Windsurf shop, or sometimes Fi would nick the board and go for a session leaving me on the beach (we need another one for her!) but as Summer turned to Autumn and then to Winter, I have been the only one out there.
And yet Hayling is perfect for SUP. Flat water on the inside with the waves getting progressively bigger the further out along the sand bar you travel. Any wind with West in it pushes wind swell onto the bar and as the wave refracts onto the sand the wind becomes offshore. If there is proper ground swell around the waves just peel right for a considerable distance, and as I mentioned before, it starts to resemble a mini point break!
But the potential doesn’t end there. The Chimet/Sandy Point end of the Island offers up some options. The waves are usually considerably chunkier here as well as there being more of a risk with currents and huge tidal flows, so a degree of skill would be needed to ride here.
For beginners, there are plenty of nooks and crannies to explore all around the Island at high tide and of course, there is the marathon circumnavigation of Hayling that I am planning to do in the summer.
Now, anyone care to join me?
Pictures taken by Fi Rigby