You may well consider surf forecast websites either a godsend or a curse and many of us regularly make use of those sites. But I was recently reminded of the rewards of not just looking at online reports or web cams but travelling down to the local break and checking out the conditions first hand.
First there is the anticipation of setting off for the beach not knowing what you are going to find and as you near the coast looking for early indicators of possible surf. For many of us in Newquay the “eye ball” surf check is carried out from South Fistral beach.
On the drive to your favoured viewpoint there is anticipation of seeing signs that there is swell. As you crest the hill and before the road drops down onto the Pentire headland, the ocean comes into view and sure signs of swell are the slicks of foam on the ocean surface and white water around the rocks of the headland. As you draw nearer (and if the surf gods are blessing you) there will be sets rolling into view and it is then possible to make out the state of the ocean surface and the local wind conditions. Each encouraging sign increases the expectation and excitement at what we are likely to find on arrival.
On one recent surf check from the moment the ocean came into view the signs were good and on getting to the beach there was the treat of a clean head high swell with light offshore winds. The old fashioned surf check has its rewards.
Credit: low pressure image from the Met Office