One of the most commonly asked questions by both the students I teach and the snap-happy parents that accompany them is ’Surely you don’t go in the water in winter, do you?’ and every single time I answer them i’m greeted by the same response ‘God you’re brave’. Brave? No. Mentally Deranged? Debatable. Committed? Always. Another frequent query is ‘when is the best time of year to go surfing then?’ which is always answered as follows: ‘Why the September Swell, of course’. However over the last few years it’s actually been the month of October that’s delivered on the swell front, but ‘October swell’ just doesn’t quite have the same ring to it.
Now September/October are magical months of surfing for us Britons, not only on the swell side of things but also because of those external factors that all contribute to our experience. The water’s still balmy, though the air might not be, after a summer of blistering heat (slightly hopeful there) upping the temperature. The sand banks have finally shifted back into their best state after a winter of being abused by big waves and even bigger storms. The kids are back at school which means the water is a lot quieter and for the first time in what feels like forever the water once again becomes a place of serenity and relaxation. That is, of course, until the Atlantic does what she does best and pushes those lower pressures our way, hopefully resulting in two months of solid 3-4ft swell every day, with sunsets to shout about and many an evening spent sandy-toed, surfed out and smiling. These months of consistency are also the perfect way to prepare you for the winter. Whether it’s going to be spent in Indo, the US or good old Blighty you’re likely to be faced with some bigger days of freezing perfection; So these Indian summer months will set you up with the nerve to drop into anything bigger than 4ft.
So yes, summer may be coming to an end. You’re desperately trying to stay out until dark, have some last minute bbq’s and wear your lightest wetsuit at least a handful more times, and although you’re saying goodbye to that summer buzz (and the friends that helped create it) say hello to a new kind of thrill. To that excitement when you’ve finished work and the surf’s absolutely pumping, to competition season, to chilly dawnys and to Facebook feeds filled with pictures of your local spot going off. Ladies and gentlemen, say hello to the September swell.
Written by Surf South West instructor Maddie Meddings