Tag Archives: longboard

Water Babies

31 Mar

Crystal Dzigas - photo by Anthony Walsh

The last few months I have been adjusting an exciting new stage in my life; pregnancy.  By adjusting, I mean not only coping with the radical changes to my body, tiredness, nausea and hello girls – what has happened to my boobs(!), but with the list of things I am not supposed to eat or drink or even do. The biggest question I had for my midwife was ‘can I surf?

Since my early twenties, when I first met my husband, surfing suddenly became the pivot around which my life revolved.  He had a big part to pay in that, determined to ensure it was important to me as it was to him, he spent the first summer we were together towing me out back and pushing me into unbroken my waves to make sure I got the buzz.  Well, it worked.  Our life decisions revolve around being near the surf, we chose our jobs for that reason, and bought a house as close to the sea as we could afford.  So the next big life decision that we both made, to start a family was one that I knew would be a challenge.

I had already done some research.  Four times World Champion Lisa Anderson competed whilst pregnant, and missed only the last event of the year back in 1993.  5 weeks after giving birth, she was back in the water and made the final, eventually winning the event. Chelsea Hedges, World Champion in 2005 surfed until she was 4 months pregnant, and had her first surf three weeks after giving birth.  However I am hardly Lisa Anderson or Chelsea Hedges. When the midwife said to me ‘as long have you been surfing for at least 6 months beforehand, you can continue surfing’, I was stoked.

The general advice is that pregnancy is not the right time to begin any new vigorous regimes if you are not used to them, but having surfed for the past 6 years, I knew I would be totally comfortable in the water.  Despite the first 12 weeks of pregnancy being the most risky period, for a surfer, they are also the time when your body has changed the least, without the tell tale pregnancy belly. Low impact exercises such as swimming are recommended, and in my mind, surfing is low impact (providing there isn’t a collision with another surfer or your own board).

I had been inspired by the story of Crystal Dzigas, the Roxy sponsored Hawaiian pro surfer who had surfed until she was nearly full term. By paddling on her knees on her longboard, and switching from her usual break of Ala Moana Bowls to Queens in Waikiki, she surfed until at least 7 months.  Her partner pro surfer Anthony Walsh was proud to point out his unborn son had already competed in a surf contest as Dzigas had won the Noosa Festival surfing event in March 2010 whilst pregnant ‘he’s only seven months old and he’s surfing already’.

Life works in mysterious ways, and whilst in an ideal world I would have timed my pregnancy to miss a British Winter of freezing surf and 5mm wetsuits, ready to be back in the water for Spring, my body had other plans.  I discovered I was pregnant in December, and as I was desperate to surf before my belly got too big, I knew I would have to make the most of cold surf.

I have surfed only a couple of times whilst pregnant, as I felt I had to be choosy and pick the right conditions, and now my bump is too big for me to comfortably paddle on my short board.  I have found it very hard not surfing the last few weeks with the sun out and pumping waves. The reality of trying to squeeze myself into a restrictive Winter suit was a wake up call. 

My husband is now trying to get used to having a non surfing wife (and has experienced some of the earache that most guys get that have a partner that doesn’t surf).  It will be worth it, as we are both happy and excited to be growing our very own water baby, one that has already had their first surf!

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Surfing like a kook

2 Sep

Despite having fun in the surf at Mawgan Porth this afternoon, I surfed like a kook.

The conditions were perfect for longboarding, glassy, wedgy and with the setting sun, almost like a scene from the Endless Summer. The surfing was far from it. My arms flailed when paddling. I slid off the front of the board, legs akimbo. I stepped on the rail and generally wobbled and lurched around like I’d never surfed before.

Why, you ask? The reason is that I am a short boarder at heart. Whilst I love to cruise on a log, my dream is to rip, shred and hack. I want to chuck my board around, flinging arcs of spray in the air like a pro. I am under no illusions, I am far from it, but I do know that I am much happier with less foam under my feet.

Tomorrow, with a bit of swell, I will be back on a 6′ something. Although I have yet to retire my longboard (I will learn to cross step), pushing myself on a smaller board is where it’s at for me right now.

Summer’s End

28 Aug

Autumn’s blustery fingers have been creeping in, prising leaves from the trees and bruising berries into dark ripeness. The summer’s end draws near, the long days diminishing into colourful dusks.

Lazily, we made the most of the wind slop surf, warm water and crumbly onshore crests. Sunbathing on the cliff, trying to catch the last of the summer sun.

We long for September swells and distant lows, or exciting promises of a hurricane pulse. The seasons turn.

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A Karma Ding

17 Mar

I tried to sneak by on a sweet little left hander and I paid the price.

I have managed to crack the rail on my beloved longboard so it has to go to Dr Paul Fluin at Diplock Phoenix on Saturday. It looks like there will be a perfect little longboard wave this weekend too.

Karma for being greedy and dropping in.

Surfing in Winter is Actually Quite Nice!

31 Jan

That might sound like a crazy statement to make, but when there is a wind chill factor of -5°C, getting in the sea is a blessed relief.

A chill North Easterly wind had been rattling the window panes of the bedroom throughout the night, and an extra blanket and the dog had failed to keep the chill out. After almost 6 days in daylight starved, artificial environments of exhibition centres, I was desperate to remind myself that I did have a life outside work. I wanted to surf, but having abused my liver in a systematic manner over the previous week, I found getting out of bed more strenuous than usual. My husband’s natural instinct upon waking up at the weekend is to go surfing. Impervious to my protestations that we would freeze, he proceeded to pack up the car, leaving me to make my own mind up as to whether I wanted to brave the elements.

I managed to strike a deal. Instead of clothes, I got out of bed and got dressed in 5mm of rubber. Not as exciting as it might sound. As I pulled on my split toe neoprene booties, I thought what a far cry this was from my new soft leather knee high boots I had been parading round in over the past week. My neighbour did a double take as I left the house and wished him a good morning.

As we pulled into the car park, I fully dressed in my winter wetsuit, it seemed others had had the same idea (unsurprisingly, as we were in Newquay). My husband cursed as the cold wind snatched at his towel as he got undressed on the tarmac. I wasn’t smug for long. As blood vessels constricted to keep me warm, my hands transformed into claws, useless for carrying my heavy long board down an ice covered beach. It was a strange feeling walking down the beach, the sand cracking under foot where frozen. Stalactites of icicles hung from the cliffs. It sounds totally crazy, but I knew from a similar outing last year, when we trudged through snow on the beach, that a couple things would make it well worth all the suffering.

For those of you that don’t know, getting in the sea when the air is below freezing is blissful. In Cornwall the sea in January is about 7°C. Compared to the air, the sea is significantly warmer. Body parts slowly defrost, and being submerged is an exhilarating experience, before any waves have been ridden! And of course, the whole purpose for braving the elements in the first place are the clean, groomed, wedgy waves of a winter swell and an empty line up. I got the added satisfaction being the only girl surfing at Watergate Bay that morning.

Equally, many of you out there brave far more Northerly latitudes than Cornwall, and will laugh at my feebleness. I can’t complain though. I was driven home after a 2 hour session, sopping wet, still in my wetsuit perched on a board bag and towel. I also had the luxury of getting changed under a hot shower. I really don’t have any excuses to avoid surfing in January!

A New Board…

13 Aug

Thanks to Bro and Paul at Diplock Phoenix, my birthday present was quite exceptional this year.  A gift from my husband who decided that it was time for me to learn to glide on something with a bit more length!

The dimensions of my new board are 9’0″ x 21 3/4 x 2 3/4.  It has a square tail with a triple stringer, 2 plus 1 FCS fin set up and perfect pink resin tint.  Enough to put a smile on any girls face. 

In laymans terms, what the above means is that for a shortboarder who turns on her rails (like me), the board is a blessing.  The board is a hybrid, and compared to a more traditional mal, the fins are situated further towards the centre of the board and the tail is narrow and drawn out.  This means it is incredibly manoeuvrable and generally more forgiving, especially for someone who is not used to having to take a step back to turn a board. The unique design of the tail will hold its position in the wave much like a large single fin. With a traditional nose, if my longboarding progresses and I manage to cross more than one step forward, the board will be perfect for classic tricks such as nose riding and hanging five or ten.

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