St Ives holidays often include lots of outdoor enjoyment on the beaches and in the sea. Whatever the weather, being in the sea can be exhilarating, renewing and heaps of fun. We booked our Director, Ross Sheppard, on a surf lesson with St Ives Surf School so we can share the experience with you.
How to book a surf lesson in St Ives
We booked Ross a group surf lesson with St Ives Surf School and it couldn’t have been simpler. Using their website, you are given the choice of a group or private lesson and you can choose the date and time that suits you best. We opted for a group lesson as it was considerably cheaper (£45 for two hours tuition) but on the day Ross had the fortune of being the only one in the group and so had a 1-2-1 two hour lesson, result!
You are invited to arrive 30 minutes before the start of the lesson to get fitted out in a wetsuit, get changed and be introduced to your instructor. At that point, if there is a large group of people, this is when the group is split into smaller sizes so everyone gets individual attention during the lesson.
The day of the surf lesson
Ross and I arrived together with our dog, a young border collie called Toast. Porthmeor Beach is dog-friendly during the day (see here for when dog restrictions apply) and so I thought while Ross had his lesson, Toast and I could have a play on the beach (optimistically also thought a sun bathe!). As we are local and weren’t staying in a self-catering cottage in St Ives, we parked in Barnoon car park which overlooks Porthmeor Beach. It is a long-stay car park (meaning you can park for more than 3 hours) given we had plans to have lunch at Porthmeor Beach Cafe after the lesson. The footpath that leads down the hill from the car park to Porthmeor Beach is short and offers tempting views of the beach and sea. Within a minute we headed down the sandy slope to where St Ives Surf School is based right on the beach. Ross had nipped down before me and Toast to get ready for his lesson and when we arrived he was already sat on the sand with Hamish his instructor.
Hamish is from Bondi Beach in Sydney and Ross felt he was in safe hands from the very beginning. Being born and raised in St Ives, Ross had dabbled with water sports but was pretty much a beginner when it comes to surfing. Hamish ran through the all important safety points first such as the different flags on the beach and what they mean, what are rip tides and what to do if caught in one, how to carry and handle the surfboard in and out of the water, and very crucially, what to do if you get into difficulty in the water and how to get a lifeguard’s attention. Thankfully, he didn’t need to warn Ross about sharks off Porthmeor Beach!
Did you know? The flag colours and meanings of the different flags on beaches are the same all over the world.
The lesson is broken down into two phases. During the first phase, Ross was shown, while still on the board on the beach, how to paddle and was taught how to see a good ‘surf-able’ wave approach and to paddle strongly to gain speed and momentum at the right point to catch the wave and then to continue paddling with the wave to increase speed. Still on the board on the beach, he was also introduced to the first stage of riding a wave but whilst still lying down on the board. Hamish described it as having chicken wings and pushing your torso upwards; think the cobra position in yoga! From this position you get to control the direction of the board and turning it left or right. With those basics covered, Ross and Hamish headed into the sea while Toast and I stayed wrapped up and warm on the beach. Did I say the weather that day was a mix of showers and was cold! Ross said the sea was actually surprisingly warm and Hamish remarked on how quickly the sea was warming up this Spring.