They say that Surfing was invented by the Polynesians at least 4000 years ago. Going onto become a popular sport for all ages... including kids!!! Perhaps the water might be a little warmer in Polynesia, but surely there can't be too many better places to learn to surf than on the vast Pembrokeshire beach of Newgale. So with the sun shining on a brilliant May afternoon, with Road Schooling finished for the day, we headed off to discover just what we could find in Pembrokeshire ably assisted by the fantastic team at Preseli Ventures.
An interest in surfing developed on the Northern Spanish Coastline near San Sebastian (see here) and then further in the record breaking waves off Nazare in Portugal (see here)..... but all we'd managed so far was plenty of body boarding! So this opportunity to 'catch their first wave' on the beautiful Newgale Beach in Pembrokeshire was sure to bring beaming smiles across the girl's faces...
Preseli Ventures were fantastic throughout...so after a hearty, rustic lunch at their superb 'outdoor adventure centre'... we headed out with Tommy (Head Guide) to see what the tides would serve up..... But first we learnt a little about beach safety, ocean awareness and surfing skills and techniques in an easy format that worked well for both girls. Whilst the actual surfing (3hr session) takes place in shallow water, no deeper than than an adult's waist depth.
Tommy's easy relaxed manner was helpful from the start and offered our girls the perfect amount of easy instruction without them losing focus!. But perhaps the best part of using Preseli Ventures was the excellent surfing equipment provided (Soft Surfboard and winter Wetsuit) ..... So no excuses to not spend as much time in the water as we could! And that's exactly what we did!!!
Teaching kids how to surf is apparently sometimes tricky. Since all kids react differently but nurturing a young love affair with surfing starts with patience, patience, patience. And we loved the relaxed atmosphere on this beach with plenty of fellow surfers there enjoying the waves too... it just seemed the perfect chance to keep working on the technical hints passed on by the enthusiastic Tommy.
Slowly but surely, the hint and tips started to filter into 3 of us... but Libby was a natural as she jumped up on her first wave. I'm not sure who was more suprised...Tommy, Us or Libby herself... so whilst Libby graduated onto more complicated methods... the rest of us concentrated on just getting up to our feet (via our knees if we had to!)
After 2hrs of riding a few waves before returning to the beach for technical input, the practice sessions on the beach were starting to pay dividends... Tommy's advice to refine the 'pop-up' method was working for Libby, but Lottie & Catherine were soon onto their knees and then up onto their feet (if briefly) (it's useful to know that too much time on your knees is counter productive, something that helped us move onto those unsteady first few 'true surfing' forays..)
We were encouraged to go for little chunks of whitewater at first. To forget about unbroken swells since they increase the nose dive factor on the drop. But in truth a few good wipeouts just builds character... Tommy certainly helped by pushing the girls into as many waves possible to eliminate that fear factor and introduce the speed necessary to get onto a wave... but by now both girls were happily running back into the waves to grab their own waves.... furiously paddling towards the shore, grabbing a wave, popping onto their feet and then celebrating in style with increasingly elaborate 'dismounts'!!
After 3hrs, we'd made enough progress for Libby to request an early Christmas present (a surfboard), whilst Lottie was pretty keen to get one of those 'warm wetsuits!!! So perhaps the surfing seed has been planted!!! With a summer ahead of us, and a chance to get back to the Atlantic Coast of France.... hopefully we'll get a few more chances!
For those looking to plan their 'family stay' in Pembrokeshire, we'd 100% unconditionally recommend Bluestone Wales (see just why here!) But if you fancy it, Preseli Ventures offer short breaks with their own accommodation and a variety of other adventure options (coasteering, sea kayaking or team building activities)
To reserve places on a half-day surfing session with Preseli Venture call 01348 837709
www.preseliventure.co.uk or perhaps add a climbing session with Climb Pembroke contact Henry Castle on 07732 972 643, or www.climbpembroke.com (SEE HOW WE GOT ON HERE)
For details of other things to see and do in Pembrokeshire see www.visitpembrokeshire.com
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