IF YOU’VE NEVER BEEN SURFING BEFORE, why not start by riding the waves on a bodyboard? Here’s my beginner’s guide to the art of bodyboarding.
Suzanne Asquith and her children love bodyboarding!
1. Get some gear. You don’t need to spend a fortune but you will need a board that doesn’t snap at the sight of a wave or have a picture of Barbie on it. Unless you are holidaying in the Caribbean or possess blubber befitting a whale, a wetsuit is a good idea. They keep you warm and make you look sleek; or at least you imagine it makes you look sleek. Wait until you get your holiday snaps back. Shortie wetsuits are easier to put on, full lengths are warmer. Whichever you choose, make friends with it. Once you’ve got it on there’s every chance you may need to have it surgically removed. Go for a wee before you put it on.
2. Find some waves. Sounds obvious but you need to check out the surf forecast because it can get cold and lonely out there on a flat day.
3. Get in. Fasten the Velcro strap around your wrist, tuck your board under your arm, breathe in and head into the sea looking confident and nonchalant. Do not run into the waves in slow motion. Nobody does that anymore and everyone on the beach will point at you and laugh.
4. Don’t squeal when the first ice cold wave hits you in the stomach; continue to look nonchalant, even slightly bored.
5. Here we go then. Grasp the board on either side about two thirds of the way up and lay on it with the bottom edge against your pelvis. Start to paddle out.
6. Stop before you lose sight of mainland Britain. Position yourself as before but this time facing towards the beach.
7. Wait for a decent wave. Don’t get giddy and jump on the next gentle swell, wait for the kind of wave that makes you feel genuinely afraid and glad you had that wee.
8. Just as the wave reaches you and threatens to engulf you in its roaring crescendo, push off towards the shore, let the board take your weight and lean up on your elbows.
9. Ride atop the wave, career at breakneck speed towards the shore, shout and whoop at the top of your voice and for twenty seconds forget that your savings are dwindling, your back aches and the engine management light has lit up on your tow car’s dashboard.
10. Find yourself in two inches of water halfway up the beach with a stupid grin on your face.
11. Wade out to sea and begin the process all over again. After eight or nine times you’ll have worked up enough of an appetite for a traditional boarder’s lunch of cheesy chips. Yum.
12. Use words like ‘gnarly’ and ‘tube’ whilst calling everyone under sixty ‘dude’.
13. Take the car to a garage and pray it is still under warranty.
Where to go bodyboarding
When in Cornwall, we always stay at Polmanter Touring Park in Halsetown near St Ives (01736 795 640). It’s a five-star site with great facilities, including a swimming pool and restaurant and bar serving the all-important Cornish Rattler. Pitches are spacious and hedged for privacy and some have sea views. Porthmeor Beach is excellent for bodyboarding and is patrolled by Lifeguards. It’s a 25-minute walk from Polmanter, but there is a seasonal bus service from the campsite into town, if the walk sounds just a bit too energetic when you’re lugging your board and beach bag.
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Buy a cool bodyboard
If you want a bodyboard that people won’t laugh at then head over to Down the Line in nearby Hayle (01736 757 025). They have a good selection of boards, bags and wetsuits and will gladly help if you look a bit clueless.
Look after your wetsuit and board
You will need to rinse your board and wet suit out after use so invest in one of those bendy buckets and swill everything round in that. We always drip-dry our suits on the corner poles of the awning or stick it over a hedge to dry off.
PS Whether you’re a surf star or a bodyboarding beginner, we’d love to see how you got on! Please send us a few holiday photos of you enjoying yourself in the water! Every month we’re looking for a star photo to print in Caravan Chat in Practical Caravan magazine – and if we choose your picture you’ll get a prize in the post! Just email [email protected]
Or share your pictures and join the live chat on our Practical Caravan magazine Facebook page.