Why surf reports are rubbish

Ok, so this could be quite a controversial topic, but it’s one I’ve discovered I feel quite strongly about. Stay with me and I’ll explain…

Apparently (up until this week) we’ve had a really rubbish couple of weeks on the surf front down here in Cornwall. The reports weren’t very promising… ‘no surf day’, ‘catch up on your correspondence’ or ‘only if you’re desperate’ seemed to be the order of the day.

But because I’m working 9-5 at the moment and it’s dark when I finish, my surf time is restricted to the weekends. So even if the surf’s ‘rubbish’ I’m not sure I want to wait another week to get in… so I’ve been off by myself, or dragging reluctant friends along to small, weak windswell sessions.

And I’ve been massively pleased/relieved to have had some really great surfs. Seriously, I’ve been having a blast so I’ve come to the conclusion that I’m not listening to surf reports any more!

And here’s why…

The problem is that a lot of people writing reports are seasoned surfers, guys who ride shortboards, get airs and are more than capable of coping in the traditional versions of pipeline-esque ‘perfect’ surf!

I however, have recently come to terms with the fact that I’m never going to be able to surf anything much over head high, particularly if it’s barrelling. Of course the name kinda gives it away that we’re fans of a more mellow wave here. So why am I listening to people whose idea of the perfect wave is substantially different to mine?

A few tips to make the best of ‘rubbish’ surf…

  • Surfing a shortboard in 2ft windswell might not be a great idea so bigger boards are definitely the order of the day.
  • If the surf sucks because it’s super windy, look for somewhere more sheltered. Will a higher tide give you more protection than a lower one?
  • If the surf is tiny, look for somewhere more open that really picks up the swell, rather than your usual sheltered spot.

Bear in mind though, I’m not talking about going out in huge blown out storm swell. If it looks terrifying, and even the big boys aren’t in, it probably will be! That’s a different type of terrible altogether.

The best thing about rubbish surf and the biggest reason it’s a good idea to go out when the reports say it’s rubbish is that there’s likely to be less people out, which means more mellow waves for you! (Although I may have slightly ruined that now!)

To add further fuel to my beef with surf reports, Surf Hog, who was renowned for his surf reports for west Cornwall, recently hung up his boots (and before everyone in Cornwall starts yelling, hear me out…) His reports were awesome. I barely checked another report for the first few years I lived in Cornwall. So I was a bit lost when he actually closed down his website, saying that people had lost the love of the search and he was worried he was making it too easy for people. I’d say there’s some fairness in that because I was completely guilty of it. I had lost the love of the search, and that stoke of checking the swell and the wind and then finding the sweet spot for your perfect wave rather than following the crowd. So thanks Surf Hog, both for showing up daily for years to help people find waves, and for giving me the kick up the backside to discover my own!

What’s your experience of surf reports? Do you believe everything they tell you or are you more skeptical? Tell us what you think in the comments below.

Author: Amy Lambert

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1 Comment

  1. Same In OZ, the reports here are where I live are done by one guy who usually has it wrong, There are way to many variables for it to be correct. I use it as a guide by checking the wind, swell direction and tides but always check the array of local breaks, some sheltered from the north/south some with nice consistent banks or reef.
    He may say take your highest volume board it is flat and for the desperate yet I will drive up the coast 15-20kms and find a nice bank that is getting swell.
    We are lucky to have beach cams here on coastal watch.com but again I use them for a guide only. The best report will always be my own as I know what appeals to me 🙂

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