The Bay of Plenty
St Ives Bay offers loads of options for the surfer. If one spot’s not working there’s a fair chance another one will be (and failing that, we’re lucky enough to have the south coast only 20 mins away). Allow us to take you on a quick tour of St Ives Bay’s surfing terrain…
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[/themedy_col][themedy_col position=”b”]99% of the time Godrevy has the most swell in the Bay, but, for reasons covered in last week’s surf tip (about swell direction), not always…and quite often not as much as beaches further up the coast. It’s a pretty regular North Coast beach-break; very often do-able and occasionally pretty darn good.
Red River snakes over it with ever changing implications, keeping the sand-bars on their toes – not to mention creating a handy channel for high-tide paddle-outs.[/themedy_col][/themedy_columns]
Generally rights will be better than lefts, with the waves tending to be fairly slow and almondy, especially at higher tides (the other side of this coin being the potential for some really long rides).
While there’s usually plenty of space at low tide, things can get a bit cramped as the water moves in and around the rocks/cliffs. Another drawback on really high tides is the pebbles, which make wiping out in the shore-break hazardous for board and body!
[themedy_columns structure=”50|50″][themedy_col position=”a”][/themedy_col][themedy_col position=”b”]Heading SW down the beach towards Hayle, somewhere around Gillick Rock Godrevy becomes Gwithian and the waves will generally start to get a little smaller.
Gillack Rock itself can be a blessing or a curse. On the one hand, interesting sandbars will occasionally form around it, kinda like they might build up around a groin. This can improve the way waves break at high tide. And when it’s covered by enough water, with the swell in the region of 2-4ft, it becomes one of the shortest reef-breaks known to man (a.k.a. Suck Rock), providing the opportunity to practice late drops and very little else (apart from pumping/weaving like crazy through the ensuing dead-section in a bid to make it to the shore-break).[/themedy_col][/themedy_columns][themedy_columns structure=”50|50″][themedy_col position=”a”]
[/themedy_col][themedy_col position=”b”]But beware! At 1/2 to 3/4 tide the area around Gillack Rock can be rife with rip-currents, while the barnacle encrusted rock itself has been known to take some skin of the odd hapless surfer!
One of the most popular spots to surf in the area is a specific part of Gwithian Beach known as Sheep Dip (yes they used to wash sheep there – in a pool just below the lifeguard hut). And it’s not because it’s the closest part of the beach to the large car-park! The reason the waves tend to break slightly better here is due to a patch of offshore rocks (of which Bessack Rock is the only one that breaks the surface) which cause the waves to refract into themselves, creating ‘A-frame’ peaks which have been known to peel very nicely indeed (especially the lefts). Sheep Dip is best at mid-tide, with low tide often very rippy (all aboard the Bessack express!!!) and high-tide a non-starter due to the rocks.
[themedy_columns structure=”50|50″][themedy_col position=”a”][/themedy_col][themedy_col position=”b”]Named after a dog who loved bounding around the dunes here – and is buried on the cliff-top – Peter’s Point is located about ¾ of a mile down the beach from the main car-park at Gwithian. And yes we agree that is a weird name for a dog! Peter’s Point is the stretch of beach between Mussel Rock and Site (no prizes for guessing what can be found on Mussel Rock – some of the best mussels in Cornwall, but only accessible on Spring Low Tides or in a wetsuit). To be honest, in terms of surf quality, this is the worst section of beach in the Bay, with the waves generally really gutless and tending to close out. But it never gets crowded so if you’re just learning the basics then it’s not a bad option. And as the picture testifies, it does have its moments![/themedy_col][/themedy_columns]
The stretch of beach in front of St Ives Bay and Beachside holiday parks. This is a good spot to head for if Gwithian/Godrevy is too big and/or too messy because of some west creeping into the wind. Generally better rights than lefts…and usually best at mid to three-quarter tide.
[themedy_columns structure=”50|50″][themedy_col position=”a”][/themedy_col][themedy_col position=”b”]People head to Rivermouth at low tide to get barrelled – and not necessarily make it out again. And while it packs a punch at low-tide (due to the river carving out a trench which preserves wave energy), high tide is a different story, with waves tending to wobble in without much power or organisation (although you do sometimes find some decent rights peeling into the river).[/themedy_col][/themedy_columns]
[themedy_columns structure=”50|50″][themedy_col position=”a”][/themedy_col][themedy_col position=”b”]If the swell’s massive and the wind from the S or SW you might be lucky enough to catch firing Hawke’s Point. At high tide waves bounce back off the cliff and into the next one, causing a super-fun left-hand ‘wedge’ that adds extra height and power to the waves. The super-easy, dry hair paddle out off the rocks is an added bonus (so long as you time it right), although getting back in again isn’t so much fun. Getting in/out is more straight-forward at lower tides, when the wedge disappears and right-handers take precedence.[/themedy_col][/themedy_columns]
[themedy_columns structure=”50|50″][themedy_col position=”a”][/themedy_col][themedy_col position=”b”]Tucked away as it is, Carbis Bay only has waves when the swell is either MASSIVE (i.e. big enough to wrap pretty much 180 degrees) or of the short-range northerly variety. In either case Carbis Bay can offer fun, punchy waves at high-tide or mellower, longer rides at lower tides.[/themedy_col][/themedy_columns]
St Ives Breakwater
[/themedy_col][themedy_col position=”b”]As with Carbis Bay, Breakwater can be surfable in a northerly windswell; but proper Breakwater, which is the stuff of legend, only breaks once in a blue moon during monster swells. When it does work it offers 100 meter long, freight-train lefts, wrapping from Porthgwidden Beach all the way around to the harbour entrance. But when it’s on it’s usually the only place in a large area that’s surfable, and therefore gets very crowded.[/themedy_col][/themedy_columns]
[themedy_columns structure=”50|50″][themedy_col position=”a”][/themedy_col][themedy_col position=”b”]Sitting below the Tate Gallery, Porthmeor is a semi-sheltered beach that offers good protection from S, SW and, to a lesser extent, W winds. It’s therefore a good spot to check when things start to get a bit sizey/stormy. As with much of the bay, rights tend to be better than lefts. And the further towards the western end of the beach you go the punchier the waves are. Oh yeah and for reasons unknown, Porthmeor breaks better on an outgoing tide. But… being a small-ish beach next to a large town (by Cornish standards) it does tend to get crowded. Although more exposed, with waves therefore usually more ragged, Site/Mexico, back over on the other side of Hayle River, is often, on balance, a better option.[/themedy_col][/themedy_columns]