I moved down to Swansea in 1999 to start University. I'd actually moved down for the whole of the summer getting myself a lifeguarding job at Swansea Leisure centre. So two months on, a mate and I went snooping round the local surf shops. Whilst browsing the aisles in City Surf, I overheard a conversation with some guy buying a new board. He wanted to trade in his old stick, but the shop would only give him £50, so naturally I offered him £60, bought the board and myself a new wetsuit at half price (last years model apparently). What was the board? An Aloha 6'4, apparently very buoyant, so I should be ok...yeah right!
Living in Limeslade, I was just a short trek from Langland and Caswell. I think I must have gone in the water about three times in that first year as you can imagine but I wasn't very successful. So into the loft the board went and my wetsuit became very useful when kayaking.
Three years later, and a mate of mine went on a trip to Oz; naturally he came back buzzing and having had a few lessons out there, borrows a board for himself, and coaxes me in the water with my 6'4. To no surprise I still wasn't getting on too well, so one frustrated morning (about 2/3 months later), I decided to hire something bigger from PJ's surf shop. I came back with a 7'6 NSP board and what happened? I stood up first time! How cool was that?! There I was, me, actually surfing! It was awesome; I had been caught, hook, line and sinker.
There was no going back now - I wanted more. The next couple of weeks had me reading all kinds of literature; books, magazines, web articles etc. So the hunt was on, I needed a board for myself. After much research (thanks to all those from Off The Lip message board), I knew what I wanted, a 7'4 mini-mal. The only problem was, so did the rest of the UK! Nowhere could I find a second hand mini-mal. New ones were flying out of the shops like hot cakes. Then one fine day, popping into PJs as usual, there she was, just in, hiding under a pile of other second hand surfboards - my mini-mal. I first took out a 73 Bic, to convince me that this was the right size/shape. Then, after a good hours session, and another good hour of bartering, I bought the board.
Since then the surf has been pants! A bit of chop here, some 30 cm ripples there, but nothing to stave my appetite for surfing. Yesterday it came. After much web watching, and many charts deliberated over, Thursday was the day. Geared up and ready, we headed down to Llangennith for our much-anticipated surf. Into the water we went, and after 5 minutes, I was stood up, travelling the length of a perfect 2ft wave - I was surfing! What an amazing feeling that is; to know that I can stand on this board and surf a wave. The emotional link you have with the ocean is indescribable. Three hours we were in that water for, and I could have stayed out much longer!
Since becoming a surfer many things have started to change. My outlook on life is so much more relaxed. My image has changed somewhat, and my way of thinking is definitely more laid-back. I now have a roof rack, I want a campervan, my house smells of sex-wax, my car is full of sand; I wear shorts when its raining, and flip-flops with my jeans. I haven't had a haircut for about 3 months and I no longer care about hair gel. It's true what they say - Surfing changes your life!
*Since writing this story, I have been involved in a minor climbing accident rendering my right foot in plaster for six weeks, so I definitely need a learn to surf book, as I won't be getting any water time!*