The Early Bird Catches the Best Winds for Surfing
This could be you… An empty line-up, no one to paddle battle with, offshore winds almost guaranteed, maybe a few early morning dog walkers in sight, but it’s too early for Average Joe.
Especially in the warmer months, it is often in the mornings that we get the best winds for surfing. This coming summer, we are starting 8am lessons, for those of you who want to get up and at ‘em, before the crowds descend upon the beach. Here’s why we think you should book in for the dawnie session…
Winds are a huge factor when considering the surf conditions for the day. Often in the summer (between around about April and October) we get lovely offshore winds in the mornings. Offshore winds travel from the land out to sea, going against the direction that the waves are travelling. This means that the grooms the face of the wave, holding it up steeper and longer before it breaks. A very strong offshore wind will blow spray off the back of the wave (a tell-tale sign, when you’re doing your morning surf check). A wave with offshore wind is more likely to be clean and peel, with a more defined peak. Conversely, an onshore wind blows from the sea towards the land. It travels the same direction as the waves are moving, so can push the crest of the wave over prematurely. An onshore wind may make the surf look more messy, and less defined. The stronger the onshore wind, the less frequent you’ll see a peeling wave and the face of the wave won’t be so steep.
But what creates an offshore wind in the morning, I hear you ask?
So the sea temperature will not really vary from day to day. Maybe a degree or two. The land temperature will vary more significantly, especially in the warmer months. At night time, in the early mornings, and in the evenings as the sun gets lower, the sea is usually warmer than the land. The warm air rises, due to its low density. The cooler, more dense air from above the land is sucked out to see to replace it. This therefore creates an localized, offshore wind. Then, as the land warms up throughout the morning, the land temperature exceeds that of the sea. The warmer, less dense air above the land rises, pulling in the cooler, more dense air from out to sea to replace it. Subsequently, the wind switches and turns onshore.
So it is usually the case that the best winds for surfing are offshore winds, which more frequently occur in the mornings. It will obviously vary depending on what direction the beach is facing. Mawgan Porth faces North-West. For us in Mawgies, a South-Easterly wind is dead offshore. Southerly and/or Easterly winds are also fine for an offshore surf on our own privately licensed beach in North Cornwall. Also, if it does end up being onshore here, we luckily have the giant cliffs both to the North and South of the beach. Shelter can be found in the form of features like a harbour wall or even big sand dunes.
Here in Mawgan Porth, the towering cliffs act like a natural amphitheatre and protect us from some of the less than perfect winds.
Magic Seaweed, the surf and wind forecast website, is what we usually use at the surf school. It usually has a good idea of what is expected for the day, and the following week or so. If you’re new to surfing, onshore winds can help with a bit of extra white water. The more white water there is, the more speed and power will help stabilise your board when practicing in the shallows. If you’re surfed quite a bit before, the best winds for surfing will play a bigger role. Mornings are going to be perfect for you if you are looking to practice surfing out-the-back and catch some groomed green waves.
Another reason why getting in for the 8am dawnie surf session is the sun. Some of us here in the surf school suffer from having a strawberry blonde complexion (naming no names). Getting in the sea early avoids the notorious beetroot face. The sun’s powerful UV is strongest between 11am and 3pm. Always remember, boys and girls, to wear a good water resistant sunscreen or zinc-based sunblock. Whether you’re surfing early in the day, or even if it’s a bit overcast, in or out of the water, safety never takes a holiday!
Dawnie sessions will be running from 8am until just after 10, every day in July, August and September. To book in, just give us a bell on 01637 860091 or use the booking form on our website to ping us over your preferred dates.