I’ve wanted to give it a go for ages. Myth and legend say that surfing is perhaps the most demanding of all sports, and I was keen to see how it compares with stand up paddleboarding.
Yorkshire and North-East England is blessed with a variety of surf spots, with slow beach breaks for beginners, and secret heavy reefs concealed within the myriad nooks and crannies of this historic coast; the boyhood home of groundbreaking British explorer, Captain James Cook.
Saltburn-by-the-Sea, one of the UK’s finest surfing destinations and recent host to the UK Pro Surf Championships, is also home to Flow Surf School, operated by local expert Richie Mitchell from the back of his vintage VW camper.
Flow has a reputation for excellent tuition, delivered by Richie, whose expertise has been gained through many years’ surfing the world’s oceans.
Joining four other relative ‘kooks’, who squeezed into their winter wetsuits with varying degrees of exertion; we padded down to the sands, boards under our arms, much to the incredulity of the scarfed and gloved passers-by, who no doubt thought we were all slightly mad.
After a brief safety talk, where qualified lifeguard Richie advised us how to avoid being swept along the beach by the lateral rip and how not to get wrapped around the pier, we were quickly in the water.
I was amazed to find that throughout the two hour session, in the notoriously fresh North Sea, I stayed pretty warm. In fact, I was colder walking through the supermarket chiller aisle while shopping for the evening’s dinner.
And I managed to do far more surfing than I ever imagined; paddling into waves, popping up and riding towards the beach again and again.
Having little idea what time it was as the sun finally sank beneath the swell, we returned to the van, soaked yet exhilarated.
I think I might be hooked!