A Stint Behind The Lens for Andy King

Andy King reports from another windy Cornish weekend, plus shares a gallery from the session…

Steve King. Image credit Andy King.
Steve King. Image credit Andy King.

The wind in Cornwall just refuses to stop blowing with each week since the end of September gracing us with at least three quality wave sessions. It has reached the ridiculous stage where I have even become picky about sailing if it involves using a sail bigger than 4.7m. This week was no exception and having opted out of two lighter wind sessions the past few days the prospect of 40knt southerly winds and solid swell was enough to get me up at 06:00hrs, no mean feat believe me.

My plan was to get down to Gwithian and out on the water for 08:00hrs in order to catch the pushing tide before it got too high close to lunch time.

Having arrived at the beach there was certainly no shortage of wind with a solid 40knts white capping every inch of the bay. The waves were also there and looked fun with the head to double head high sets peeling onto the beach forecast to pick up all day.

The deep low pressure had other ideas though and put a spanner in the works with a tidal surge that was driving a mid rising neap tide against the cliffs way before it was due. Thankfully Gwithian has a sweet back up high tide spot at Peter’s point a half mile walk upwind. Unfortunately we’d heard the recent super storms had battered the cliffs so hard they’d destroyed half the timber steps essential in traversing the steep 80ft cliffs. Not to be put off by that minor detail locals Marcus, Alan and myself grabbed our smallest kit and headed off ever hopeful we’d get to the water somehow.

As it was we soon found a safe route to the Peter’s point beach which was being hit by peeling logo high sets feathered by solid 3.7m cross offshore wind.

Full power wave riding on a 3.7m is certainly not exactly relaxing but fun in a perverse way.

Three hours later I was done and back at the top of the donkey trail at Gwithian. It was not even twelve and with the tide now on the drop the car park which had been all but empty three hours before was now rammed with vans and windsurfers frantically selecting their equipment.

I am first to admit I really struggle to leave a windy beach. It normally takes minor hypothermia, darkness, injury or the inconvenience of work to send me on my way.

Today I stood at the top of the cliff watching those sailors just taking to the water and thought to myself ” I have got to go back out, there’s wind, waves and even some sunshine”….

The only nagging thought was the need to manage a rather embarrassing injury I’d picked up the previous week having bailed and landed feet first legs a kimbo from around 30ft. A self diagnosed bruised coccyx had already caused me to reign in my jumping that morning and in the back of my mind I was already thinking ahead to preserving myself for a forecast of big waves and wind due the coming week.

So I did the unthinkable, put my kit away and finally took out my camera bag which had sat in my van the entire autumn and winter.

I stuck on the biggest lens I had and positioned myself on the softest patch of grass I could find on the cliff top at Gwithian. Now I don’t have the best camera in the world and with out a tripod and 600mm telephoto I wasn’t going to ruffle any feathers amongst the local photo hogs yet I have to say it was a pretty enjoyable couple of hours. I got to watch a dozen wave sailors of mixed abilities tearing to bits virtually every wave that came through. Some made it look it easy whilst other got hit hard but they all came back ashore with big smiles on their faces even Matt who had a half mile swim after his UJ snapped on the outside.

Having watched the sailors wave riding through the view finder and then reviewing the photographs it was easy to spot and identify flaws in their techniques (that I no doubt share!) or should I say the unique traits that make every body’s style truly individual.

In short I would recommend that every one take an hour out now and again to at the very least watch other sailors especially those better than themselves in order to learn from their performances (and if you have access to a camera or camcorder why not capture some action to share at the same time).

As for my pictures they aren’t going to win any prices but they do show the action and for a change there are none of me!!! Enjoy…click below to scroll through just a small collection of King’s photos.

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