Why Mawgan Porth is one of the best places to learn to surf
Mawgan Porth might not be the first place you associate with surfing. But if you want to escape the Newquay crowds and learn to surf at one of the best spots in North Cornwall, then look no further!
The beach is just a stone’s throw from Seavista and surf lessons have taken place here for over 17 years.
We spoke to Pete Abell from Kingsurf about what makes Mawgan Porth a better option than the more well known surf spots. Plus, what to expect during your first surf lesson and why you’re never too old to learn!
How did you get into surfing?
“I started off bodyboarding and was obsessed with it for about 10 years. But then I realised that with surfing I could create more speed and have more control of where I wanted to go on the wave. I hired my first surfboard from Betty’s in Mawgan Porth when I was 15 so it’s funny that I’ve ended up back here now running Kingsurf which I’ve done for now 11 years – around the same time that you guys took over at Seavista!”
Why do you think there’s more of an association with Newquay for surfing?
“People tend to gravitate towards Fistral because the competitions are held there and there’s more places to stay and things to do. Everyone’s heard of it but it’s not necessarily one of the best places to learn to surf.”
We love Mawgan Porth so maybe we’re biased but why do you think it’s one of the best places to learn to surf?
“It faces the same direction as Fistral so picks up the swell so we’re never shy of waves. Last summer we only had 2 days where we had to cancel lessons due to lack of waves. It’s a real swell magnet!
“It breaks at all stages of the tide. At low tide it produces a faster slightly heavier wave for more advanced surfers, but on a neap low tide it’s perfect. At mid tide we get really slow rollers (ideal for learning) which ricochet off the cliffs. This produces ‘wedges’ which forces you to go left or right instead of straight towards the beach – it’s what you should be aiming for anyway.
“Then at high tide we get slow ‘fat’ breaking waves which give you more time to pop-up so again, that’s perfect for beginners. Some beaches you can’t surf at high tide because of rocks or harbour walls etc so we never have to cancel due to the tides”
What’s the average age of someone who books a surf lesson with you?
“It’s hard to say because we get such a variety! Pre season is a popular time with young couples and middle aged professionals from the city who want to do something different. In the summer we get a lot of kids. We also get a lot of older people and recently had a 74-year old learn to surf with us (the oldest we’ve taught is 78!).
“For someone of that age we’ll get them on a bigger board, encourage them to come along when the tide’s higher and the waves break slower. Also, we’ll get them to come long when the waves are a bit smaller to help them get the most from their lesson. It just proves that you’re never too old to learn to surf!”
What does the first surf lesson involve?
“We start on the beach and go through the equipment and cover safety – what the flags on the beach mean, hand signals and what rips are. We go through how to stand up on your surfboard on the beach and then we hit the surf! The aim is to get people to stand up for about 10-15 seconds and have a 90% success rate.
“We get a lot of people book another 2 or 3 lessons after that. During those lessons we go through turning the board, speeding up and slowing down and going for waves that have a bit more of a ‘ramp’ to get you standing up as you drop in. We’ll also get you out back beyond the whitewater and trimming across the wave face.”
How often do you see people return year on year for lessons?
“60% of our bookings are repeat business. We saw a girl recently who’s been coming to us for 10 years now! We also see numerous kids, year after year and get to know their families. One of them’s becoming an instructor with us. It’s really rewarding to see that progression over the years.”
Tell us a bit about KingCoasteer
“We were getting a lot of enquiries for coasteering so we set something up to meet that demand. Tom, who runs KingCoasteer has got a degree in water sports activity management and he’s like a fish in the water so he’s the perfect guy to lead it.
“When the conditions are good, we run 3 coasteers a week for groups of around 10-15 people. It involves swimming, rock hopping, cave exploring and cliff jumping under the safety and guidance of a trained instructor. It’s an ideal way to explore the coastline and is pretty exhilarating at the same time!”
What does Kingsurf do differently to other surf schools?
“We’ve been working here for 11 years and all went to university together. We’re all friends and highly competent in the water, yet we’re all fairly young so you won’t get taught by a 16-year old who’s only been surfing for 2 years. We’re experienced, safe and knowledgeable.
“We’ve adapted our teaching techniques over the years. We take GoPro’s into the water and use drones for video analysis which is an excellent way to correct and refine technique.”
“We’re also offering a 3-day course over the winter involving surf lessons, video analysis and a social element which not many other schools offer. We also run a regular kids club which really helps to motivate them and to progress.”
To book your surf lesson with Kingsurf, contact Pete and the team on 01637 860091 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Image credits: Kingsurf