10 Things Only Landlocked Surfers Understand : #CitySurferStruggles

10 Things Only Landlocked Surfers Understand : #CitySurferStruggles

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There comes a point in our lives where we find ourselves trapped in the city… away from the coastline, the clean air and the fresh sea breeze.  We may move for our career, it may be for loved ones, but more often than not we find ourselves at some point daydreaming about the perfect waves and golden sand we left behind.
We live for the moment when we can escape the hectic fast-paced city life and submerge ourselves in the ocean. If you are like me, you would’ve encountered some of these issues and can share some sympathy for other landlocked surfers.


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1. Public Transport

You’ve booked your getaway, you are super pumped for the upcoming waves… There’s just one hurdle to overcome – taking your board on public transport. The looks you get, the huffing, puffing and lack of sympathy from commuters and other travellers after you have got in their way, don’t they know how hard it is to carry a board on the tube? The worst though is the classic shout outs from passer-by vans and traffic. The sarcastic tone of voice shouting “There’s no waves here dude” or “are you lost mate?” and “which way is the beach bro?”. Let’s face it, we’ve all been there. It might be worth mentioning that Transport For London will not let you take your 9-foot longboard on the underground. They see this as dangerous and an obstruction… come to think of it, where would you even stand a 9ft board on the tube? It would take up half the carriage laid flat.

2. Travelling

So, to overcome the public transport issue, you load up the car with your wetsuit that is dying to be used, throw your board on the roof and get going. It seems like fun to begin with, but you hit traffic jams followed by constant road works (where there doesn’t actually seem to be any working going on). Then the tiredness sets in and you remember how easy it was when you lived by the ocean. You try your hardest to be green and do your recycling, but your carbon footprint is increasing with every trip you take…buts lets try to not think about that.

3. Swell Checks

The weeks leading up to your next trip consist of a frequent check list; there’s the swell charts, the wind direction, the wave period and if you are lucky the sun might come out. This slowly takes over your life, hoping that there will be something worth riding for when the time comes. You know with the kind of weather patterns we have here, it could be ‘ON’ one day and dropped off by the next, there’s always keeping your fingers crossed.
“I would say trying to predict when to go. Because conditions change so quickly and you have to plan ahead it is often really tricky to score good waves. I have wanted to go down to a surf camp when I knew the waves were pumping the next day and they were fully booked so I couldn’t go. You have to book weeks on advance but you might not get any waves.” Anonymous City Surfer 2016 
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4. Fitness

There’s a certain level of fitness that comes with surfing, and then there’s trying to maintain that level. When you live by the coast you are in the water whether its small, big, choppy, clean and even virtually flat just to keep you “paddle fit”. When you live in the city these things do not exist. You may have looked at that brown looking canal and thought to yourself “maybe I could just go in and work on my paddling” but then thought about the possible illness afterwards. You could join a gym but its just not the same, plus getting on the treadmill in board shorts and flip flops probably wouldn’t go down to well.

5. Try SUP

This now might explain what has been noted as a big increase in popularity for the sport known as Stand Up Paddle Boarding. In this country we are blessed with a ton of great lakes and rivers. We may not have a perfect golden sand coastline surrounding us but for years we have tried to utilise these open water areas. A lot more surfers are now getting their water-time fix by jumping on these oversized surfboards and paddling till their arms turn to mush. It may not be surfing, and we may not look cool doing it but it suppresses the need just slightly.
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6. Avoiding Facebook

With an increase in social media in the last few years, its getting much harder to avoid those photos of your friends’ latest surfing adventure. It seems as though every time we log into Facebook another friend has just got the ride of his life on a tropical blue Fijian wave or what you missed back home yesterday. What makes this worse is it seems everyone now owns a Go-pro. It’s hard enough looking out of the window and being surrounded by houses and buildings for as far as the eye can see, but now we get to see every single wave from your last trip! We call this blue with surf envy.

7. Substitute Surfing

We have all tried to find the perfect substitute for surfing and the amount of times we’ve heard a city surfer in denial say “honestly dude, it’s better than surfing”. We all know nothing compares to being sat in the water, on your board, patiently waiting. There are a lot of other board sports out there, but with rent and travel factored in to the cost of living in the city, can we afford to really start taking up new sports?

8. Filling the Gaps

To fill the gap that surfing leaves in your life, you think it’s a good idea to watch the latest footage of your favourite pro surfers that’s just been put up online. This makes you realise two things, the first is that you will never be as good as them and will not be able to travel the world getting paid to surf. The second is a more harsh realisation that your next trip isn’t going to be for a while. I can only imagine this is how football fans feel in the 2 months of the year when that sport takes a break! This is fuelled more by the fact that you have a subscription to your favourite surf magazine but barely read it when it comes through your door as the pain is too much to bare.

9. Broken Board

So, you’ve been on your trip, you scored some of the best waves of your life on the new board you bought especially for that trip. Somehow this board has taken some heavy beatings but survived the trip only to be damaged in transit on the way home. If you still lived by the coast you would be able to get this repaired with ease. In the city however, it’s a different story as it’s not easy getting that ding fixed up. It’s not like you can jump on the bus with your 9ft board in hope of finding the nearest board repair guy.  This means you have to take the matter into your own hands and end up doing a terrible job, after all, you don’t want to ruin your next trip because you didn’t get your board fixed.

10. Wave Park Glimmer of Hope

The one glimmer of hope that we all have and prey for, is that the next time they decide to make a wave pool or an artificial wave, they will put it in the city and not in Snowdonia. Can you imagine, perfect peeling waves on your doorstep but still being able to work your high flying job in the big smoke? We’ve all had the conversation “if I won the lottery I’d build a wave pool in my garden” but how many of us even have gardens in the city let alone space to put a wave pool? Who knows, with the success of the Snowdonia wave garden, hopefully it won’t be long before we see one of these appear in Hyde park?
We can all relate to the problems listed and we live to get away and get in the water.  Thanks to organisations like London surfers and Bristol surf club, this is now more regularly accessible. It’s a great way to meet other frustrated surfers and share stories. It’s also humbling to know you are not the only person that moved to the city with sand in your shoes.

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