“Gorleston” says Tim “surf’s predicted and if there’s none we can still play in the cauldron. I really want to get wet”. That was the extent of the planning, along with the decision to bring the surf yaks and the Scuppers with sails.
So, I get up, drink my coffee and jump in the van. A quick look at the sea at the end of the road and I notice that there are sets rolling in around 3ft high and nicely spaced. I’m not sure it’s worth going to Gorleston as it’s good here and deserted. He doesn’t hear his phone so I drive north anyway, checking the sea en-route. Nothing surfy at the Swan, nothing between there and the pier and then, turning into the road behind him we pull up and see nothing rideable near the pier though the cauldron looks fun anyway. Prediction was wrong. We turn around and head back to Lowestoft in time to see a couple of surfers heading beachwards with their boards.
My RRRapido comes off the roof; Tim’s Lipstik comes out of the car. We’re playing old school today, both yaks are around ten years old and both have been picked up cheap and in excellent condition this year. Mine hasn’t seen decent waves yet and his hasn’t seen the water since he’s had it. Today is the baptism.
It’s looking good, still rolling in around 3ft, some slightly bigger. They’re clean but not very steep; not ideal as the tide is quite low but rideable. We launch and paddle out, past the boardie and near the paddle boarder with a nod and a wave to each.
Tim’s staying upright on something vastly different to his previous surf toy and I’m also remaining aboard mine. Then the first set rolls in and we both try and paddle for the wave. We miss. We paddle for the second. We miss again. I catch the third and run down and into a bottom turn, carving along and back up; the snot-play hasn’t been wasted and I can make the most of it. Tim catches one and shoots in too. Yeah, we like our new boats ;D
We catch a few more, always on the second or third attempt as they’re getting absorbed and building back again on the banks and bottom which has changed shape once more from the recent weather; shifting sands change everything here frequently though the end of the groyne is still the best take-off point. The paddle boarder is on the end though and having got in his way a couple of times, clashing paddle blades on one occasion we find ourselves outside of the steepest part and unwilling to annoy him any further even though he’s graciously accepted my apologies.
There are a couple more surfers now, one of whom I have got to know slightly over the last year or two and we have a brief natter; his partner is with him on a bodyboard and I get them both on film. Then we decide to take the north side of the groyne as there are some waves coming through there, reasonably steep and we think we can ride them without hurting ourselves even the tide is now going the wrong way (it’s gnarly on that side, with submerged concrete here and there).
We catch a few rides here, accelerating to good speeds (22.99mph was the top recorded on the GPS module in my bow-mounted Oregon Scientific ATC9K action camera) and pulling turns before carving along the waves, cutting back, riding the foam when the water ran out, bongo sliding, managing half spins, three-quarter spins and alternating between being dumped and making it. Tim even manages to roll upright but goes too far and can’t make a second rotation! We are, in short, having great fun! Then it happens and I go too steep, my RRRapido pearls (a new term for me but a familiar occurrence). The nose well and truly dug in I go flying head first into the water at the trough of the wave and feel my Sunseeker beanie hat come adrift. Oh. I get into the shore, leave the yak on the sand and try to wade out to where it still floats just out of reach and a bit close to the groyne. I paddle out for it and a wave breaks; it disappears for good. Poor Sunseeker hat.
I carry on, bareheaded. Another ride or two and then…and then I achieve my goal! I’ve seen someone on film spin 180 degrees to the wave and ride it backwards and I finally get myself around far enough with a really aggressive carve and hip flick and for a second I’m there and doing it! I cheer, I raise my paddle, and then as I cartwheel over the arse-end I realise that I hadn’t considered what comes next…lean forwards and lift the stern to stop it digging in then place the blade in to spin back around. Oh well, that’s the next goal. Tim says it looked great and was long enough to count ;D If only the foam off the lip hadn’t obscured the lens for most of it!
We swap kayaks soon after. We’ve been meaning to for ages but I keep seeing waves to ride! Tim shimmies across and I re-enter from the water. He tells me the RRRapido is really stable, tells me I’m going to hate the Lipstik because it’s so tippy. It feels stable to me, more so in fact and as he again tells me how tippy it is he rolls over on the RRRapido and sinks from view ;D
We start riding waves with each other’s boats. He’s watching out for the camera on the bow and I’m watching out for the fin on the underside; he protects the former and takes a yak to the knee, I protect the latter and get washed ashore on my leg. I’m liking the Lipstik too but with the fin my aggressive carving that the RRRapido loves is flipping me out once I try to cutback and over the lip. Not that I mind, being dumped is half the fun. It’s just yelling as I go headfirst again that causes me a moment of consternation. I get a gobful and make it to shore coughing and spitting.
Tim is wearing a helmet. I decide to test it and whack him with my paddle. I promptly take a swim to much laughter. I’m pleased it wasn’t a fishing day.
I’m awaiting another wave, having got back out again. Tim is on the beach having just rode one in. He’s standing with some bloke and waving to me to come in. I ride one in and am given a coffee. Bonus! “Have we met?” I ask. “Nearly” says Wilmy and the coffee hits the spot; He’s come to give some rods to Tim and after a chat and one more wave (well, two. It’s like a last cast!) we leave the water and wander up to the cars with Wilmy who will always most definitely absolutely be welcome to drop by at any time ;D
We load up and go back to mine. It’s breakfast and I quickly knock up kippers with Hollandaise sauce and a couple of fried eggs as Tim talks to my wife, forty yesterday, who has found the remnants of the champagne we shared with friends and has got quite tipsy at ten in the morning with her breakfast of cake and alcohol. They do say life begins at forty…but Tim and I feel way, way older after those three, glorious hours.
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