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28 October 2014

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The North Coast of Cornwall
Fistral Beach in Cornwall

With a coastline as diverse as its landscape, Cornwall truly has waves to suit all abilities.

For many experienced surfers the North coast boasts the best challenges.



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+ There are currently 250,000 surfers in the UK.

+ The biggest surf normally occurs on a pushing tide, especially on the Bristol Channel coast.

+ Croyde Bay in North Devon and Fistral Beach in Cornwall are two of the most popular surfing beaches in Britain.

+ The first ever degree in surfing was offered by the University of Plymouth.

+ The record for the most number of surfers on a board was broken in 1989 at Fistral Beach, Newquay. Twelve surfers rode a 37ft longboard shaped by Tim Mellors.

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Watergate Bay and Constantine Bay, on the far north coast are popular. Courtesy of their sometimes hollow powerful waves which on their day produce beachbreak waves as good as anywhere in the world.

Travel further north through King Arthur's country and you are faced by the sweeping sands of Widemouth Bay, at Bude. It's the home of British champion Ruben Ash and his talented brother Joss and former European champion Mike Raven. Despite not having the same power as Constantine, the waves can pack a punch when they pass the mid-tide sandbanks.

Crooklets Beach
, about three miles north, offers more quality beachbreak waves, which in the past have been ridden by the sports elite. The venue was recently used for a national floodlit competition and is home of the Bude Surf Lifesaving Club. Many of the town's best surfers have come up through its ranks over the years and it is still a big focal point for "town" surfers.

, has a three-quarter-mile stretch of sandy beach and is the venue for some of Britain’s top surfing competitions and it will soon boast a state-of-the-art surfing centre. The standard of surfing in the water is high, especially at North and Little Fistral which can hold waves up to 10ft.

When the south westerly's blow, the focus turns to Towan, Tolcarne, Great Western and Lusty Glaze beaches in Newquay town itself. It picks up less swell than Fistral, so is good for beginners and intermediate surfers. The Tolcarne Wedge is a big draw for bodyboarders halfway along the beach, and can get very crowded.

South of Newquay, are wavefields aplenty. The two-mile long sands at Perranporth to Penhale regularly offer up some of the county's most-pleasing waves and are rarely crowded because of the length of the beach. It too has a buoyant Surf Lifesaving Club which regularly takes part in national and international competition.

Between here and St Ives you pass through an area dubbed Badlands by local surfers. Porthtowan is home to the annual SAS Cornish and Open, one of Britain's longest running surfing competitions, while St Agnes and Portreath epitomise the Cornish spirit of surfing which continues to stand the test of time. The Environmental pressure group SAS also have their home here and have been successfully campaigning for cleaner seas for over a decade. One of its main players is James Hendy, who still competes to the highest level.

Famous for it's artists, St Ives also has quality waves on its doorstep - Porthmeor is very popular with longboarders, shortboarders and bodyboarders because of its close location to the town. The long sandy beach faces north so is a good place to head in strong south to south westerly winds. When giant storm swells batter the Cornish coast, a rideable wave can also be found just offshore from the harbour.

Ask England international Sam Bleakley and current English champion John Buchorski why they love Sennen Cove so much and they'll no doubt tell you about it being the most westerly beach in the British Isles. But it's also one of the most consistent. If it's flat here, then the chances are there aren’t going be waves anywhere else around the South West coastline.

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