Catching a Wave at -9*CMay 12, 2008
Take that ‘*’ to mean degrees please!
Not so long ago I posted a comment on Extreme Glacial Skiing where Garrett McNamara and Kealii Mamala surfed glacial waves. I thought that was pretty extreme but in England and Ireland they seem to think extreme conditions are fairly normal.
According to Jane Fryer in the Daily Mail, “you haven’t really surfed until you’ve done it in the middle of the British winter” as “thanks to low-pressure systems and mid-Atlantic storms, this is when the really big waves come rolling in.”
Waves such as ‘the Cribbar’ – a 30ft wave off Newquay which “travels faster than a galloping horse and is known locally as the widowmaker” or, according to Robert Booth in the Guardian, you could travel to the west coast of Ireland to try your luck against ‘Aileen’s Wave’. Britain’s top surfers, known as ‘heavy water pioneers’ scrape ice off their boards and brave wind chills as cold as -9* to tackle the 50ft monster.
“Surfing big waves in winter is one of the biggest thrills in all sport”, said Booth.
Ted Deerhurst, a pioneer of British surfing, has compared the experience to “jumping off a three-storey house, and then having the house chase you down the street”. If the surfer falls off he or she can be held down for up to 40 seconds and pounded against the rocks. If that happens, “you curl up in a ball and cover your face as the whole of the ocean churns over you,” says Duncan Scott, the 29-year old president of the British Surfing Association. “You go to your ‘happy place’ and try to relax and not panic.”
Rather you than me I think. The lure of the blue skies, sunny climes and blue blue water holds more appeal for me than grey freezing oceans… but I admire those who challenge themselves to such an extent!