At the start of each year we all say to ourselves ‘this year I will surf more’. But you need to be more specific to succeed.
I’ve thought about my surf failings and have come up with the following New Year resolutions.
Hopefully they can help you and me be a better surfer, in and out of the water.
1. Surf at least 52 times in 2015Think you could surf once a week, on average, for the whole of 2015? It’s harder than you think, especially if like me you’re not young, kid free or single.
My mate Matt sets himself this challenge each year. He lives 3 miles from the waves, works flexi-time and has an understanding partner, but he’s 40ish and has 2 young kids. Each year he only just squeezes in 52 sessions before the year ends.
Think about it. In Britain, 2 months of winter will be blown out and 6 weeks in summer will be flat. Then there’s trips to see landlocked relatives, the occasional city break and weddings. That means you’ll need to surf at least twice a week, in the 7 surfable months remaining.
Up for it? Go get yourself a notebook and make a note of each surf. There are also handy apps that will do the job like Johnny on the Spot. Or go wild and get a wave stamp, each time you surf, stamp the car. Like fighter pilots used to do.
2. Buy your own surf waxThere’s no such thing as ‘team wax’, there’s just surfers who buy wax and surfers who steal wax.
Ok ‘steal’ might be a bit strong but when’s the last time you bought a block of wax? I bet you use other people’s wax more than your own. I certainly do and can’t remember when I last bought a block (maybe a year ago).
The point is a block of wax is probably the cheapest surf accessory you can buy. It’s good to keep your wax job fresh and it’s good to give, not just take. So get down to your local surf shop and buy a block of your favourite smelling surf wax. Strip your board naked and give it a good rub down.
I promise you, your board and your fellow surfers will feel better afterwards.
3. Put away your rusty sheriffs badgeChocolate starfish, winking brown eye and rusty sheriff badge. Whatever you call your sphincter, it shouldn’t be on show at your local family surf spot. You’ll scare the kids, give a senior citizen palpitations and if nothing else – I suspect it’s illegal.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m all in favour of nudity and have myself been a serial flasher when changing in and out of my wetty. But I’m now of an age where I think more about the consequences of my actions. That and I have one of those hoody towels I said I’d never be seen dead in.
You might be very proud of your buns of steel, and consider it a generous act to offer a free public display. But believe me when I say ‘only perverts (and possibly your partner) want to see your hairy arse’. So next time you’re changing in the car park, cliff or beach – cover up please.
4. Phone a friend pre-surfDon’t be shellfish, phone a friend next time you go for surf. Sure, solo surfs are important for clearing the mind and soothing the soul. But there’s nothing like laughing your arse off when your mate gets sucked over the falls, or receiving a nod of recognition as you glide off the shoulder from your wave of the day.
It’s easy to assume your mates can’t make it to the beach when you can. It’s difficult to grab a phone when an unexpected surf opportunity arises. But if you don’t make the effort you’ll become a lonely surf leper. At least send a text letting potential surf buddies know where you’re going.
You’ll be surprised. I reckon one of my mates turns up at least 50% of the time. That might not sound like a lot, but it means I get to share waves and laugh with my friends twice as much.
5. Make time for post surf sessionsNext time you go for a surf with a friend, grab a post surf pint. They not only taste better but you get to verbally dissect your surf. At least hangout for a little while and shoot the breeze. Let’s face it no one else will care what the waves were like, or appreciate that late drop you narrowly survived. So chat about it while you can.
It’s all too easy to jump straight in the car and race home to complete another chore. Even if you’re on your own, take time to savour the waves, bask in the last sun rays off the day and gaze at the awe inspiring ocean. Just an extra 30 minutes can make your surf much more memorable.
As you get older and life’s demands start stacking up, a ‘splash and dash’ soon becomes the norm. So make time for post surf sessions.
If you’ve got a New Years surfing resolution that’s not mentioned above, please let me know in the comments below. Cheers.
Struggling for ideas about what to buy your favourite surfer this Christmas? Struggle no more.
Surfing charities offer loads of Christmas gift ideas from t-shirts to teddy bears, or simple gift subscriptions.
Buy your stocking fillers from one of these awesome organisations, and help people and places in need:
Surfrider FoundationBorn on Malibu beach, 30 years ago by a bunch of surfers. They were worried about the escalating environmental and health risks caused by continual coastal development. So they took action.
Surfrider Foundation is one of the largest non-profit grassroots organisations working to protect our oceans, waves and beaches. With over 250,000 supporters in the U.S.A alone, they have the power to protect.
The Surfrider Foundation store offer a great range of goodies including beanies, socks, beach towels, jackets, t-shirts and of course gift subscriptions. All members also get 20% discount at swell.com.
Save The Waves CoalitionSave The Waves Coalition is a non profit organisation focused exclusively on protecting surf spots and their surrounding environments from pollution and excessive development. They proactively protect coastlines through a combination of education, research and documentaries.
Save The Wave’s team of devoted scientists, surfers and activists are committed to help everyone realise the economic and social value of our precious coast. Too many waves and wonderful coastlines have been damaged beyond repair in the name of ‘development’. Lets not let another legendary surf spot fade into folklore.
You can support Save the Waves by buying a t-shirt, sticker or film this Christmas. Or give a gift membership for that gift that keeps on giving.
Surf AidIn 1999, physician, surfer and SurfAid founder Dr Dave Jenkins went on a surf charter to the Mentawai Islands with one goal in mind – to find perfect waves. What he discovered changed his life …
Thanks to Dr Dave’s friends and fellow surfers, SurfAid is now an international development organisation dedicated to enriching lives, increasing people’s choices and helping them realise their potential.
SurfAid contributes to the efforts of remote communities in Indonesia. They nurture positive change, and ensure local ownership, so changes can be sustained well beyond the life of the project.
Help SurfAid improve the quality of life for those who suffer in our surf paradise. Buy a t-shirt, cap or simply contribute some cash.
Surfers Against SewageThe clue to this charity’s mission is in the name ‘Surfers Against Sewage’. It all began when a bunch of Cornish surfers got fed up with raw sewage being pumped into the sea at their favourite surf spots. Fourteen years of campaigning later and the UK’s bathing water standards have improved significantly.
But sewage is still being pumped out with alarming regularity from combined sewer overflows. The amount of marine litter washed on to UK beaches has doubled in the last 15 years, this environmental crisis alone shows the urgent need for SAS’s ongoing work.
So help Surfers Against Sewage continue protecting the oceans, waves and beaches for all to enjoy safely and sustainably. Give a special Protect Our Waves (POW) Guardian gift membership which includes a free POW t-shirt. Or shop at the SAS Eco surf shop online for a range of gifts for surfer girls, boys and groms.
The Wave ProjectThe Wave Project began in 2010, when the NHS Trust in Cornwall funded a six-week pilot scheme to examine the benefits of surfing on the emotional health of young people.
The results of the pilot showed that going surfing once a week helped participants feel more confident, improved their outlook and gave them a sense of fun.
The Wave Project uses local surfers to help young people reduce anxiety and improve their emotional health. New projects have been set up all over the UK, including in Wales, Scotland and even inner-city London!
So help get more vulnerable young people surfing, so they can lead a more positive and happier life. Go Christmas shopping at The Wave Project and stuff someone’s stocking with t-shirts and teddy bears. Or simply donate a few pennies.
I’ve tried to find a variety of surfing charities that serve surfers and good causes across the globe. Also surf charities that make it easy and rewarding to contribute by offering a range of gifts and gift subscriptions.
However, if you know of a great surf charity that isn’t mentioned above, please let me know more in the comments below. Happy Christmas.
No really, mermaids do exist! And if that’s not awesome enough, they’re helping save our oceans.
An inspired few female professional freedivers have combined a passion for diving, modelling, art and ocean conservation, to become full time mermaids.
Here’s an introduction to three of these amazing non-mythical creatures:
Hannah FraserHannah Fraser’s talents include being a:
• ocean activist
• scuba diver
• movie star
Hannah began drawing mermaids aged 3, and grew her first tail when she was 9. Well I say she ‘grew’ her first tail, it was more a determined design project involving lots of orange plastic.
Through a combination of constantly swimming, modelling, and being artistic, her three passions became one – being a professional mermaid. Now Hannah the Mermaid appears in surf movies, music videos, charity projects, company advertisements, magazine articles and more.
Not only does Hannah donate a percentage of her earnings to ocean charities, she has worked tirelessly with Surfers for Cetaceans to help end the needless slaughter and capture of whales and dolphins.
Find out more on Hannah Fraser’s website.
Linden WolbertLinden Wolbert’s talents include being a:
• underwater model
• science geek
• ocean advocate
Besides being beautiful and having a degree in Film and Science, Linden can hold her breath underwater for 5 minutes. A useful set of talents when you’re a professional underwater mermaid.
In addition to her commercial work with business promotions, movies and kids parties, Linden has created a series of ‘Mermaid Minute’ videos.
Her mission is to educate and encourage others especially children, to experience and explore the oceans and become aquatic ambassadors.
Linden believes that “once a child (or adult!) sees aquatic creatures in their natural habitat, they have a profound appreciation for conserving them.”
Mermaid MelissaMermaid Melissa’s talents include being a:
• ocean conservationist
Mermaid Melissa claims to be the only woman in the world legally named ‘Mermaid’. Melissa officially changed her name to mermaid, as a daily reminder of the life-long process to learn, evolve, and be willing adapt for the sake of conserving our blue planet.
Despite being a big fan of films like Splash and The Little Mermaid, being a mermaid has not been a lifelong pursuit. Although it has been a natural result of a lifetime’s events.
As a young surfer girl in Florida, Melissa dreamt of a aquatic career. Through a series of jobs at Disney and Universal Studios, she progressed from cage cleaner to movie star.
After many movies working with her trained animals, Melissa returned to Florida to complete her PADI course and become a professional freediver. At the age of 12, Melissa could hold her breath for two and a half minutes, and at her freediving peak could hold her breath underwater for 5 minutes.
Now Melissa has combined her talents and performs with her licensed Mermaid Entertainment Aquatic Company, including trained professional mermaids, mermen, and pirates. Besides putting on a spectacular show they are on a mission to “help save the oceans before all creatures become mythical”.
Find out more or hire Mermaid Melissa here.
Tis the season to be jolly, and in that spirit of giving Longsands Clothing Co are giving Surfer Dad fans a chance to win a chunky hoody and stylish t-shirt.
How to enter
All you have to do is join us on Facebook and Twitter. So click some buttons below for your chance to win some fantastic Longsands Clothing goodies.
One lucky winner, chosen at random by the clever gadget above will win:
1 x Longsands Chunky Hoody
With an exclusive Longsands design and top quality materials, these hoodies look great and protect you from even the harshest of UK winter winds.
1 x Longsands Cross Logo Tee
The product of a no-nonsense North East England surf scene.
More about Longsands Clothing Company
Longsands have their home in Tynemouth, North East England. The land of cold crashing waves, chilling bitter winds and hard honest living.
Longsands Clothing Co. was created to bring the soul back to surf clothing and apparel. I think their range of simple, quality and practical clothing achieves this goal.
Find out more by visiting Longsands Clothing online or visiting the Longsands store at The Land of Green Ginger Shopping Arcade in Tynemouth.
I’m a father, surfer and writer.
Online and in life each role competes for my attention, and I can’t please all the roles all the time.
Fortunately, I’ve been writing for two fantastic sites that have allowed me to focus on surfing and fatherhood separately:
1. For Fathers ProjectFor FATHERS project is based in Brooklyn, New York and it’s on a mission to make fathers take the initiative to be better parents.
It celebrates the importance of fatherhood through photography, film, and other creative artistic mediums. The project attracts active fathers, young professionals, stay at home dads and all men around the world looking for daily inspiration.
I was lucky enough to be interviewed for this inspirational project, and you can read my words here.
2. MporaMPORA are the company behind action sports magazines including Surf Europe, Cooler, Whitelines, Moto, Sidewalk and many more. If you’re into surfing, skating, snowboarding, BMX or MTB then they have a little something of what you fancy.
And if you fancy reading some of my more wordy articles from the philosophical ‘Could surfing be a religion?’ to the mostly factual ‘4 filthy surf infections’ then get stuck in here.
I’ve enjoyed the challenge of writing for new audiences, and I hope you enjoy these articles too.
I’ve got some fresh ideas to brighten the dark winter evenings ahead, including mermaids, charity Xmas gifts and shark whisperers. So watch this space.
If you’ve got any interesting surf news to share or want me to write about anything specific, please get in touch.
Most UK surfers have exploited the French and Spanish beaches that soak up waves from the Bay of Biscay. Some may even have ventured down into Portugal around Ericeira, but did you know it goes off down in Southern Portugal?
The coasts of South Portugal, better known as the Algarve, have become increasingly popular with adventurous surfers. With cheap flights, warm weather and uncrowded waves it’s a more obvious choice than you first think.
Mother nature has equipped the Algarve with two different coasts, west and south, which expands the clean-wave opportunities. Whether you’re looking for big, small, long or short waves – the Algarve and its long list of surf beaches offer waves for all levels. There’s also a tempting array of secret spots waiting to be discovered by intrepid surf explorers.
Throughout the year this southern region of Portugal is blessed with summertime temperatures. That means when it’s getting cold and the leaves are falling in the UK, it rarely drops below 20 °C in the Algarve.
Still not convinced? Check out these visual treats:
So here’s 3 of my favourite family surf videos to inspire you:
Raised on waves
Nolan and Tyler
The Flying Squirrel
In today’s world kids don’t get enough exercise. This is a fact.
There are far too many distractions for them. With a combination of video games and fast food fads we have an epidemic of low activity, and because of that, childhood obesity.
Naturally many parents are extremely concerned about their children, and want to keep them as active as possible. A great way to do that, as well as keep it fun for the kids, is watersports. There’s a huge range of watersports available for your children to try, wind surfing, water-skiing and kayaking to name but a few.
There are many reasons why getting your kids into water sports is a great idea, here are just three of them.
1. Health benefits
As we’ve mentioned above, there is an obesity crisis that is about to explode. More and more kids do nothing but look at a computer screen all day. No-one wants their child to become one of the statistics, so you need to keep them active.
Watersports are a great choice if you want to keep your kids active. They won’t even notice they are exercising because they will be having too much fun. If it is a sport they develop a genuine enthusiasm for, like many kids do with watersports, then they are much more likely to want to do it all the time, which will lead to them staying fit and healthy long into the future.
Staying fit and healthy while they are young will help prevent heart disease and other conditions as they get older.
2. It can teach them discipline and hard work
Another common complaint about ‘the youth of today’ is that they are lazy and have no discipline. While this is probably an exaggeration, it is certainly true that learning discipline and hard work at a young age can help them later in life. The world depends on hardworking people, and hardworking people tend to be more successful, so anything that can teach them hard work and discipline at a young age is of great benefit.
Watersports are ideal for this, because they aren’t easy, and they take a lot of time and effort to master. This means that kids who want to master them (and most kids do), have to work hard, and develop a certain level of discipline.
This will help them significantly, as they will now have the skills to work hard during school, university, and beyond.
3. It is fun and they will meet new friends
Of course, it is difficult to instil the ideas of hard work, discipline, and keeping fit into kids. That is why they need something fun to ensure that they take on board the ideas that you are trying to teach them.
This is where watersports come in. From the first moment they get into a wetsuit they are going to have fun. They won’t even notice they’re staying fit and learning vital new life skills. They will also thank you for giving them the opportunity, which will help improve your relationship with your child.
Finally, socialisation is vital for kids. They need to gain friends from a large variety of different backgrounds. So, allowing your child to do watersports, especially in a group, will enable them to make friends with similar interests and improve their social skills.
To get geared up for your watersports adventure visit www.h2o-sports.co.uk for kids wetsuits and more. Get your little ones off of the couch and into the water today.
My daughter loves books. So in my continued quest to nurture a little surfer daughter, I’ve been introducing her to kids books with a surfing theme.
Here’s some of the books I’ve enjoyed. I hope they help you inspire the next generation of surfers.
Pigs might surfWe all know pigs can’t fly, but did you know they can surf?
Bailie the piglet lived by the sea
in a pig hut made of wood.
He dreamed of the waves and the surfer he’d be,
Not the mud (like a good pig should)!
Bailie is a Cornish pig in search of adventure. With a spectacular view of the waves from his humble pig hut, Bailie dreams of jumping in the sea and surfing the beautiful blue waves.
But how will he escape and what will he surf on?
Meet the characters and download fun activities at http://www.pigsmightsurf.com
Cabo and Coral series
Cabo and Coral are two children living and learning the Aloha way. Educational and inspiring, this series is perfect for drenching those spongy little minds with salt water wonderment.
From Cabo and Coral’s Secret Surf Spot to Cabo and Coral Reef Explorers, your children will be mesmerised by the illustrations, taught by the text and inspired by the stories of ocean adventures.
Endorsed by surfing legends, parents and children from around the world, these wonderful books are available in traditional paper books or digital downloads.
For the full range of Cabo and Coral books got to http://www.caboandcoral.com
Sadly, I can only find this book as an ‘app’, but if you have a smart phone then download this one for your kids.
The book describes an A-Z of sea creatures from anemones to the Zambezi shark. Vividly illustrated with witty prose, this app will capture the imaginations of all inquisitive children.
Either read it yourself, record your voice or have the surf legend and author Shaun Tomson enchant you with his smooth South African tones.
My daughter regularly reads and listens to Surf Creatures and asks questions every father wants to hear like “Daddy, what’s a Man O War”.
For previews, reviews and download go to http://www.surf-creatures.com
Andee the aqua naught
This fast action trilogy is about a young boy called Andee. He lives on an island with his parents, who are marine biologists in search of new sea-life that could cure illnesses.
In the first book, Andee makes friends with two young dolphins, Tingo and Tango. In a storm at sea his parents get swept away, and Andee is saved by his dolphin friends.
Special powers are given to him, allowing him to be one of the great and legendary Aquanauts of the Marine Kingdom. Can Andee fight off the evil that lurks in the depths of the oceans, and save all marine life? And will he ever get home to find his parents?
Whilst this trilogy isn’t strictly surf themed, it’s all about protecting the oceans. And the author is a surfer, so that’s good enough for me.
For more information on Andee and the marine charities supported visit http://andeetheaquanaut.com
Lisa Glass has written her cracking surf romance for young adults.
Iris is a sixteen year old, set for an amazing summer of love, friendship, loss and adventure. When the ultra-talented Zeke walks into Iris’s life, surfing soon becomes her passion.
But is Zeke all he seems? What hides beneath his glamorous and mysterious past? When Iris decides to try for her own surfing success, just as her ex-boyfriend comes back into her life, she will test her talent, and her feelings for Zeke, to the limit.
If you’re trying to tempt your moody teenager into the surf, this could help.
If you and your child have a favourite book about surfing that’s not been mentioned, please let us know in the comments below.
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