When wandering around the OUSU fresher’s fair, being bombarded by every single club you really couldn’t be less interested in, it takes a lot to grab your attention. But, at a little stand buried in the chaos of the sport section, a banner simply read “Oxford Surf Club”. Surfing? Oxford? Really? After a brief chat with the club President, I was convinced. Four weeks later, and I was off on a four hour minibus journey to give it a go for the first time on a trip to that favourite of post-GCSE holiday destinations, Newquay.
On a cold November morning with temperatures at just over freezing, I found myself in the surreal position of standing in a wetsuit on a beach during university term time. After a quick instruction by the obligatory perma-tanned, bleach blonde surf instructor, the novices of the group (10 of the 15) headed out to the sea. Any lingering preconceptions I had about there not being real waves in England were immediately quashed; in November they are definitely big enough!
Until you’ve tried it, you can’t possibly understand the skill needed to make surfing look as effortless as the professionals manage to make it seem. What ensued for me was a series of nose dives, face plants, wipeouts and general falling off in an attempt to achieve the impossible. How could anyone possibly stand up on a moving lump of water on a stick of foam? And, of course, those with the annoying ability to ‘balance’ were quick to bounce up on their feet, leaving me and some fellow strugglers flailing in the white water.
But, after a few hours and a ridiculous number of attempts, I finally ‘popped up’ onto the board, and rode a wave onto the beach, greeted with whoops from my fellow surf club members. Suddenly, all the effort and aches seemed worthwhile. It may seem ridiculous, but it really is one of the best feelings in the world!
After defrosting our feet for a couple of hours, we decided to see what the Newquay nightlife had to offer. After discovering the local haunts: Belushi’s Surf Shack and Sailor’s Nightclub, we toasted our success into the night.
The next day we ventured out again in the freezing temperatures, donning the still damp wetsuits once more. We all celebrated the moment when the final person of our group got up onto their board for the first time, a great achievement with 10 novices in the group. However, our final day was cut short with bad conditions, thunder and lightning striking over the sea.
Arriving home on Sunday night still smelling of the sea, it seemed bizarre but brilliant to have packed so much into one weekend. If you have ever wanted to be that surf hunk/chick, then you should definitely get involved with OSC