Always wanted to learn to surf? “But I can’t!” I hear you cry. “I’m skint!” Rubbish. The beauty of surfing is that it’s free. The ocean won’t charge you a penny, no matter how long you spend taking advantage of its waves.
Granted there are a few obstacles. Maybe you don’t have a board. Perhaps you’ve forgotten the car park meter runs out in two minutes or you inconveniently live nowhere near the sea.
Unlike other sports, surfing is relatively suited to broke bums. We have second-hand kit, tents and secret parking spots to plunder. Here are our handy tips to surfing when your bank balance is dipping low…
You need a surfboard to go surfing. Unless you fancy trying the bin lid or kitchen table option, like Kelly Slater here.
When you can’t afford a brand new surfboard, eBay is your friend and simultaneously also your worst enemy. There are hundreds dodgy surfboard sellers waiting to relieve you of your hard earned cash.
First time round, you will enviably come home with a piece of shit. To avoid having to explain to your partner why there’s a bashed up piece of fibreglass in the garage, read this first.
Wetsuits are known for keeping people warm in more ways than one. So if you don’t want to wear rubber that smells of another dude’s piss, then probably best to invest in a new one. Surfdome have a crazy broad selection and good sales at the end of the season.
If things get a bit desperate, you could always start a crowdfunding campaign. Some guy managed to raise over $55,000 to make potato salad, so I reckon you could convince the soft-hearted folk on the internet that it’s critical they donate a fiver to help you, err… catch waves.
COST: £150 for a decent (ish) second-hand board + £95 wetsuit
Next, finding waves. If you live in the Midlands or London, the chances are you’ve never seen a wave, you poor sheltered creature.
If you want somewhere easy, head south-west. However, if you’re looking to freeze your bollocks off, take a trip up to the north-east.
But remember, the further you go, the more it’s going to cost you.
Also the really annoying thing about surfing is timing. The chances of you lining up decent surf + tide times + days off work = slim. Don’t waste money if the surf is going to be blown-out. Do your research ahead of time and stock up on food before you leave.
Getting To The Beach
Anyone who’s ever tried to bring a surfboard on a train will know it’s about as anti-social as bringing a bomb on board. I wouldn’t bother.
You could cycle, but if you live in Sheffield, there may be a few logistical issues to overcome first.
Your only real choice is driving. Whether it involves begging a mate to lend you his wheels or driving a car that you actually own, you will need to put petrol in it. Saying that, the south-west has its fair share of hills, so you may be able to coast in neutral down to the beach.
COST: Anything from £10 to £50
Ah, the bane of every surfers’ life. Parking. You’re stoked to get in the water and then you discover that: a) all the parking spaces are gone or b) it’s going to cost you £8 for a few hours stay.
Now before you throw your wetsuit on the floor and begin stamping on it, you could park on a single yellow and throw caution to the wind. Alternatively, you can find a secret free spot.
I’m a strong believer that there is always a free spot somewhere, you just need to look hard enough. Once you find it, never, ever tell anyone its there. Ever.
Oh yeah, and remember to check the tide times. Otherwise the whole trip could be a lot more expensive than you anticipated…
COST: Free to £10
Now you’ve enjoyed your four hour surf and your arms are well and truly jelly-fied, it’s time to find somewhere to kip for the night.
You could sleep in your car. What you might not remember is how cold cars get at night. They’re like bloody ice boxes. Come well equipped with four season sleeping bags or bring along a tent.
Like explorer Alastair Humphreys says, wild camping is technically illegal in England but no one really gives a monkey’s whether you sleep under a bush or not.
So find a quiet spot and get cosy.
COST: Free (or the price of a tent)
An all important part of any surfers’ life is bragging. Instagram and Facebook are the tools of your trade – and lucky for you, they are free.
So get snapping. Nothing says “sucks to be you” more than whacking a photo on Instagram of perfect corduroy lines with a cold beer in the foreground.
Assuming you already own a board, wetsuit and tent (which, if you call yourself a surfer, you should do by now) then you’re only looking at £60-80 for a decent two day session (as long as you bring the beers with you).
That’s the same as a pair of new trainers…
… or a round of drinks in London.
C’mon now, you know what the right thing to do is…