Arctic Basin Big Wave Surfing Contest Equipment Evaluation 1

Great White Con fantasy big wave team rider Andrew Cotton was interviewed on BBC Radio Devon last week by none other than Simon Bates! Cotty was on a trip to Hawaii at the time and pointed out to Simon that:

The thing with surf… is it’s the tides, the waves, the wind. The surf tells you when to surf. It’s not around chores or work, you have to have surf that looks good.

As luck would have it all that came together for North Devon surfers at Putsborough Sands on Saturday. Things looked promising to us a couple of days beforehand, and plans were hatched on Twitter for our first equipment evaluation expedition of 2015:


We took the heaven sent opportunity to test out our thickest winter wetsuit in the following conditions:

According to Magic Seaweed sea surface temperatures are currently around 8 °C off the coast of North Devon, and it doesn’t get much colder than that in this neck of the woods, which may have had something to do with at least one “no show” on Saturday. Simon had “volunteered” Richard Green for a “cold and dangerous” surf trip:

but Richard had a good excuse for being unable to make it since he was broadcasting on Radio Devon, and chatting to Pete Waterman amongst other things, that afternoon. We did invite Simon Bates along too, but it seems he had a previous engagement in London:

Prior to setting off for the north coast I got in touch with Trev Lumley, who is the proprietor of the Eyeball Surfcheck web site where we had discovered this enticing looking image on the Putsborough surfcam earlier that morning:


Trev told me he would be elsewhere by the time we arrived at “Spot P”, so I quickly tested out my little quiz for the day on him. He claimed never to have heard of Richard Green, whilst Simon Bates did ring a bell and the name Andrew Cotton was very familiar. When I explained the reason for my call Trev told me that he had actually heard Andrew being interviewed by Simon on BBC Radio Devon a few days previously. When pressed to decide who amongst the three names I had mentioned was most famous Trev told me that as far as he was concerned Cotty was the man, since he had known him since he was a boy. However Trev thought that Simon’s name would probably be more familiar to the average Devonian.

When we eventually arrived at the car park above the beach some heavy showers had already set in. However before plunging into the chilly North Atlantic, I took advantage of a break between the downpours and wandered around the car park at Putsborough with a cameraman in tow to discover the reaction of some of the locals to my Tiki Prodigy 6/5/4 suit, whilst also killing two birds with one stone by doing some research into the nature of fame and celebrity in the 21st century. Here’s my first interview, with a local lifeguard:

As you can see, our first interviewee thought the Tiki Prodigy “Looks warm”, which was comforting in all the circumstances. In addition out of our list of six celebrities Andrew Cotton was overwhelmingly the most famous. DJs Simon Bates and Richard Green, and journalists Andrew Neil, Christopher Booker and David Rose failed to achieve even the merest flicker of recognition.
More videos are on the way, but are currently still stuck in the editing suite here in the basement of the Great White Con Ivory Towers. In the meantime here are my own findings after a couple of hours at sea on my yellow sponge performing our first Arctic equipment evaluation test:

Apart from my Prodigy I was also wearing Tiki 5mm socks and 2mm bodyboarding gloves. I suffered none of the “brain freeze” reported by my even more intrepid companion, who entered the water hoodless beside me:


Because I didn’t want to lose my contact lenses I did very little duck diving. On only one occasion did I experience the thrill of cold water flushing down my back. My fingers started to feel a bit chilly as I was bobbing about out the back after my initial paddle out, but once I got into the swing of things even they were toasty for the duration. Whilst I do wonder if Tiki could be persuaded to produce some thicker gloves with webs between the fingers, my biggest problem proved to be extracting myself from my soggy suit in the pouring rain that had set in by the time I arrived back in the car park as the light was fading. To give you an idea of the problem I faced here is Andrew Cotton explaining the virtues of the chest zip version of the Zepha, which has replaced the Prodigy in Tiki’s range of cold water winter wetsuits:

Watch this space!

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