When you think of ideal locations for wave riding, the first places that come to mind are those of warmer waters such as, tropical Hawaii, California, Australia, French Polynesia etc. The warm water not only brings the sense of joy but also a sense of security and relaxation.
However, not all wave chasers are blessed to be around such favorable conditions.
Today, exclusive for WaterUKnow we are catching up with the passionate body-surfer from the small town from the United Kingdom’s South Coast, Highcliffe, where Lew Day (@limey_pirate) lives with his daughter and wife. The Highcliffe beach, where water temperatures average a freezing 11 degrees celsius, is Lew’s wave hunting ground.
Lew however, was not always in love with body-surfing. 15 years ago, while serving in the military, during his deployment, his love for catching waves resurfaced. Later on, a back injury forced him to give up bodyboarding and the natural solution for him was to transition to the purest form of wave riding, body-surfing.
How did you discover body-surfing?
“About 10 years ago, I found myself being in the paddle position when BB was hurting my back. At the same time, I saw a couple of body-surfing clips on YouTube of Mark Cunningham and Fred David killing it just using their bodies. It looked a lot easier on the body and just loved the simplicity of it all, that’s when I fell quickly in love with the sport, it was an easy change up. I try to pass on my love for the sport to my 2-year-old daughter Skye, who absolutely loves anything to do with the beach and swimming”.
What is your local favourite break?
“We live 15 minutes’ walk from Highcliffe beach which is my local break. It is an exposed beach break with some fun sections and picks up a lot of the swell on our coast. As well as Highcliffe beach, there are a number of really fun local shore breaks. My favorite wave to body-surf is a straight up and down heavy shore break. I’m a massive kook and just love the power, beauty and carnage of it all. Dropping into a big barrel and riding it for 3 secs followed by a flogging just to swim out and do it all again is pure bliss for me“.
It is fantastic to hear that UK’s South Coast is home to a variety of different breaks as reality is that little is known about body-surfing in the UK.
What do you think are some of the challenges of body-surfing up there?
“Yeah the challenge of being a body-surfer in the UK is that because it is still very much unknown, you pretty much body-surf alone. I have been completely self-taught and had no one to learn from. I guess the beauty of it also is that that not a lot of people do it so you’re not following a trend or fashion. People only body-surf because they love it and for no other reason. I think that’s why we are such a small tight knit of wave riders worldwide. However, things are starting to change thanks to Andy Bodenham (@bodysurfer_andy) the director of UK Body-surfing Association“.
In Australia there has been few mentions of the UK Bodysurfing Association. It is a fantastic step forward:
“Andy has done a fantastic job of getting our small tribe of UK body-surfers together with arrange meet ups and the introduction of the UK Body-surfing Championships. Competing in the UK comps and sharing the line up with really talented riders has been a massive help and I have learnt a lot. Seeing the likes of comp killer Dave Ford and Aussie legend Don McCredie at last year’s comp was a big eye opener. I was able to see what is make-able on a wave through body-surfing. This year I managed to make it all the way to the finals in the open event and semi-finals in the hardboard event, which I was pretty stoked with”.
Travelling overseas during holidays is popular in Europe. Did you get a chance to visit any other body-surfing locations?
“I have been on body-surfing trips to Nicaragua, Costa Rica, South Africa, Mozambique, Canary Islands, Australia and the US. Nicaragua is definitely the best place I have body-surfed. It’s almost like the beaches have been tailored for us, with fast hollow a frame peeks as well as blowing off shore all year round….so good! At home it would be a couple of local shories. Due to work commitments and family life I don’t get to chase the waves around the world or UK as much as I used too. My wife is a pretty amazing person and very supportive so I rarely miss a session at home and still go on the occasional trip down to Cornwall or Devon”.
Finally, what is in your floppy bucket as the Budgy Boys would ask? What is your favourite choice of gear?
“In my floppy bucket haha, (I feel like I am on the body-surf podcast) I have a Vissla wet-suit and a pair of Pod PF2 fins and a pair of DMC fins. I also have a couple of hand planes made by @ottersurfboards and a couple of paipo boards made by @dickpearce and @owensurfcraft”
Lew, thank you for being a legend and sparing some time to chat to us. Who know maybe we will be hearing from you next at some of the upcoming episodes of The Body-surfing podcast.