As we approach the midpoint of 2020, let’s take a look back together at the strangest 6 months in living memory through the medium of a few Cornish surf shots.
The year started off normal enough. We told stories of storms, private islands, and surfing’s imminent Olympic debut. On the other side of the world, the Australian bush lit a fiery beacon for the climate’s impending collapse, while closer to home Brexit developments and a Royal schism inspired a re-drawing of bitterly fought battle lines.
Jan and Feb saw regular scheduled programming on the surfing front for most of Blighty, with short days plagued by howling winds from the wrong direction, jumbled swell, and lots of rain.
And then came March and a global pandemic. And didn’t it all happen fast?
One minute we were testing out the new ‘expert’ settings at the wave in the early spring sunshine and the next the supermarkets were empty, pubs and holiday parks shuttered and tourists turned away at the border.
While social media wasted no time in cascading into a cesspit of doom and vitriol, outside the window, it certainly didn’t look like the virus-outbreak apocalypse Holywood had long predicted.
Instead, the sun shone relentlessly, families dotted green spaces, deer trotted merrily through suddenly-silent holiday towns and the Atlantic jolted gently to life, ushering in a non-stop procession of ruler-edged groundswells.
With work on hold and Britain bucking the trend on a surfing ban, by mid-April south-west based shredders who lived within reach of the coast were counting themselves among the luckiest surfers in the northern hemisphere.
Of course, there was always a tornado of grave concerns swirling just overhead. But there’s no doubt for those able to get in, surfing offered some much-needed respite. And in these times, can you really begrudge anyone that?
In early June, lockdown measures began to loosen and after one final week of excellent conditions, the Atlantic slumbered, the northerlies blew and in came the rain.
The timing was so precise, I wondered for a while if there might be a causal strand between the global shutdown and the Met Office certified sunniest spring on record. WL environmentalist in residence Paul Evans gave me short shrift when I put it to him, (even after I dug up a scientific study that tentatively backed a link,) delivering a terse lesson on the mechanics of the jet-stream, which forced me to concede the timing probably was purely incidental.
As surfers, we often imagine patterns in random meteorological events and the way they interact with our wave riding fortunes (just ask your mate, who no matter where he goes in the world, reckons he always gets skunked.)
Recently we’ve been gathering lots of stories about the various bits of myth, legend and lore that animate surf culture, as its the theme of our forthcoming summer issue, which we just zipped up and sent off to the printers.
We’ll have lots more info on what’s inside in the coming days, but if you’d like to be among the first to get your hands on it, you can subscribe now and to welcome you on board, we’ll throw in a free six-pack of Harbour beer. (That’s two print volumes of Wavelength and six cold ones, all for the price of four pints. No brainer, no?)
In the meantime, here are a few choice frames (featuring the tiny portion of Britain’s south-west corner I could access)
All photos: @lugarts