Chasing a Long Range Swell: An Exercise in Optimism

October 7, 2020

in partnership with Finisterre 

As the seasons change and the cold nights start to draw in, winter swells start to show up on the forecast like blips on a radar. A couple of weeks ago, a large swell looked like it was hammering the West Coast of Europe, all the way from Portugal up to Ireland.

My buddy Josh from Airwave Surfboards thought that there was a chance of some waves at our local beach in North Wales even though it’s fairly sheltered from this kind of swell. So, as with the start of all good trips, we packed up the car and left home at 4.30am, hoping to find the goods!

The Early Bird Catches The Worm

There’s nothing quite like a dawny, especially in the colder months. Pulling on your 5mm wetsuit in the dark and walking down to the beach filled with anticipation is an amazing feeling. We walked to the edge of the cliffs to check the waves before changing into our suits. A stiff off-shore breeze was standing the little waves up perfectly and the stoke levels were high, despite the fact the waves looked on the small side.

Rushing back to the car, we finished our coffee and pulled our wetsuits on as quickly as humanly possible. A few pre-flight checks later and we were in the water, acclimatising to the cold chill of the morning. Even though the waves weren’t as big as we had hoped, there were a few fun ones to be had as the sun began to rise from behind the dunes.

Having not surfed since New Zealand over a year ago, I spent most of the morning flailing around catching nothing but a cold. But, it was still magic to be in the water watching the sun come up on a crisp autumn day, even if I was longing for my camera to shoot the epic scenes unfolding before my eyes. Sometimes you’ve just got to enjoy it with your eyes!

Surf, Chill, Repeat

A couple of hours passed and a couple of waves were ridden, stylishly by Josh, less so by me. And it was only a matter of time until hunger kicked in so we headed back to the car for some well-earned breakfast and a nap.

Josh has spent the last couple of years travelling around South America with a quiver of Airwave boards, refining his design process, and honing his skills in the water. It’s super interesting to hear about the design process and what actually goes into the production of a board, so we sat for a few hours drinking tea in the sunshine as high tide came and went.

As the tide began to go out, we wrestled our way back into wet wetsuits and went out for the second surf of the day, hoping for a bit more power behind the waves. In hindsight, the boards we were riding were too small for the conditions. Note to self: always take a great big foamie!

Sleeping under the stars

After a second and third session, we were both completely cooked. My arms had given up after the second surf and it felt like I was paddling through treacle for the whole of the third outing. Rather than drive home, we decided to pitch up on the cliffs above the beach and enjoy a clear night by the ocean. There are a couple of campsites close to the beach but I always opt for wild camping if possible!

We found a flat hollow, sheltered from the off-shore wind and out of sight which was perfect. All that was left to do was pitch the tents and get dinner on the go!

And what a night it was to spend under the stars. We were treated to a dusty pink sunset, followed by one of the clearest nights skies I’ve seen in a long time. See for yourself below..

Morning surf check

Waking the following morning, I quickly ripped the tent open to check if there were any waves to be had. Unfortunately, the water was like a mill pond but at least the sun was shining! We enjoyed a leisurely morning at camp before packing everything up into the Finisterre Drift Rolltop bag and heading home feeling content with an epic weekend at the beach, even if the surf let us down slightly.

It just goes to show, it doens’t really matter whether you acheive your goals on an adventure. The fact you’re out there having fun is all that matters!

Finisterre Drift Rolltop Backpack


The Finisterre Drift backpack was the perfect companion for this trip, keeping everything safe and dry in one place. The bag is made from 100% recycled heavy duty polyester material and it feels completely bombproof! What’s more, the bag is as stylish as it is practical, and wouldn’t look out of place on the tube in the city. The zips and straps all feel super high quality and I can tell that this bag will last for years to come!

Some details:

  • Waterproof backpack
  • Roll-away strap loops
  • Fully adjustable shoulder straps with adjustable chest strap
  • Showerproof front pocket for quick access to items on the move
  • Roll top construction – top must be rolled down 3 times to make fully water tight
  • Roll top clips can secure on the sides, or across the top of the bag for dry bag functionality
  • Fully removable inside padded laptop case to fit up to 15″ screen with zip security pocket and key holder
  • Durable 600D recycled Polyester fabric with PVC-free PU coating, built for tough love
  • High frequency welded seams for full waterproofing and sleek seamless design
  • Fully waterproof, IP64 Rating
  • Carry handles
  • Breathable padded back panel
  • 2x adjustable side bottle pockets


You Might Also Like

No Comments

Leave a Reply