As The List Sports and Activities Guide hits the streets, celebrating - among other Scottish adrenaline- pumping gems — Thurso’s top quality surf, Rachael Street catches a few waves a little closer to home.
he sun always shines in the Borders. or at least it always seems that way to city dwellers like tne. (‘ertainly today. as we leave Iidinburgh and drive towards (‘oldingham Bay. just past Dunbar. the clouds gradually drift away to reveal a beautiful blue sky that seems to go on forever. In surfing tenns. the east coast doesn’t come close to Thurso. where the North Atlantic swell creates the most incredible tubes. but less than an hour's drive from Iidinburgh‘s centre. it provides a great weekend. or day trip. destination. Better still. fairly consistent waves are a given. Yet even on such a sunny day. when the air is warm and balmy. it doesn't mean that the sea is too. My first task on arrival is to squeeze myself into a wetsuit — industrial thickness and so tight I can barely breathe. plus booties and gloves so that only my head is left uncovered. Almost as soon as I get in the water. I get a good slap of freezing salt water right in the face. Refreshing. but also amazing that I can walk into the Scottish sea in early May and not feel like I‘ve been skinned alive. 'I‘hankfully I‘m not out here in the swell alone. I am in the company of BSA qualified coach Martin McQueenie from Momentum Surf Shop. on hand to help me ride a few waves. Ile isn‘t making me get to my feet as yet. butjust letting me lie on the board to get my balance and get a feel for the right point at which to catch the flow of the water. So far. so good
108 THE LIST 113—27 May 2004
(apart from almost hitting some small children who are playing on the shore): now it's time to move on to step two. But back on the beach. things don‘t progress so well. I can barely leap from prone to upright with my board on the sand. so doing it in the sea with the water propelling me and without a steady surface to stand on is going to prove difficult.
Last time I tried surfing was in Australia when my wetsuit didn‘t even touch my knees or elbows. but now that I'm clad in much sturdier stuff. my limbs seem suddenly heavy and unable to bend in the manner to which they are accustomed. Pros like Martin wear much lighter neoprene suits. giving them a lot more ﬂexibility in the water but less protection from the cold. so it’s a toss up between being able to move more easily and shivering like a lettuce — and I know which one I prefer. At this time of year. Martin tells me the water temperature is around about 8—9c. rising to about lS—lbc in the summer. which didn‘t sound too bad and certainly felt line while I was out in the swell. It wasn't until I removed one of my boots and dipped my toes in the water that I realised how much my wetsuit had protected me from the cold.
In spite of my distinct lack of mobility. I had to head back into the water because the only way to learn is to get back on the wave. For me this is generally a short lived event and seems to involve colliding with other surfers on a regular
Tantallon Castle (left) overlooks some of the best surfing sites anywhere on the east coast of Britain, including Pease Bay and Coldingham Bay (above and opposite).