Australian Bodyboarder and instructor Warrick Murphy reflects on an amazing few days working on the Wales bodyboard coaching weekend and visiting the UK’s first artificial wave.
By Warrick Murphy
Images by Aaron Parsons and Joe Woodhouse
This past weekend I was lucky enough to join the epic crew at Bodyboard Holidays for their annual coaching weekend in Wales. Since moving from Australia I have wanted to check out the waves and countryside in Wales for quite some time now. Work commitments and planned holidays over the English Channel took priority. Now that I have settled in Newquay I thought this would be a great time to start exploring the U.K and see what it has to offer. After all, I have fallen in love with Cornwall so I was sure there would be beautiful places around. I just had to find them.
Wales Bodyboarding Mission
We set off bright and early on Thursday morning. Brendan soldiered on through what felt like an endless stretch of tarmac until we reached the endless green fields and farmlands of Northern Wales. It reminded me a lot of South West Australia and the sort of scenery you would get in New Zealand, it was absolutely beautiful. Considering we left in the pouring rain we were greeted with sunshine and blue skies upon arrival. This made a huge difference and gave the boys a positive boost of morale after the hours spent in the car.
Bodyboarding Surf Snowdonia
Our first destination – Surf Snowdonia. This is an artificial wave set up in the middle of the most spectacular region of Wales and National Park; Snowdonia. I was absolutely frothing to give this wave a go and my stoke levels were through the roof as Rob invited me on board with the crew. I won’t spill too much information but this is going to be a part of the Wales coaching weekends for 2017. I can honestly say, from a coaching perspective and just a lover of all types of ‘waves’. This is an experience not to miss out on.
- The wave is powerful enough to bodyboard, so the ‘it’s too weak’ rumors can be put to rest.
- The waves break the same every time so you can almost plan your run before catching the wave.
- There is plenty of time for feedback before your next wave.
- There are tones of waves for everyone so no one misses out.
- The wait is around 90 seconds between rides so just long enough to check out your footage, catch your breath back and score your next wave.
After our sessions at Snowdonia we took the scenic route through the National Park headed for the Gower, South Wales.
I had heard a lot from the crew that had been up before of the many reefs and wedges this place offered. I was looking forward to seeing this with my own eyes. The drive did take a little bit longer than expected as I pleaded with Rob to stop at every turn to snap a shot of this memorable weekend. I can easily say it again; the scenery in Wales is just insane! You need to get there!
Gower Bodyboarding Sessions
We stayed at Rob’s friend (and sister to Welsh surf legend Pete ‘PJ’ Jones sister) Rosie’s place. She has got to be one of the easiest going, friendliest people I have met. Funnily enough, most of the welsh people I met on this trip were exactly the same. Such a warm hearted and welcoming bunch. Her house was situated five minutes from Llangennith beach and a short two-minute walk from the Kings Head Pub; we had a fun night in there on the Saturday checking out the live band.
Our weekend was spent coaching a vast range of bodyboarders from around the country. This was a particular favourite moment of mine as I met so many people who shared the same ‘froth’ for the bodyboard as I did. No matter their ability, just being in the water with mates and sharing the excitement is what made this first day for me. The weekends are so well planned and set out that it is virtually impossible for the clients not to improve session to session.
This weekend in particular, was three groups. I had the last group and was lucky enough to be guided around the Gower with Mike Norman, the local bodyboard guru. We spent our two days trekking and adventuring around on a Surfari hunting for waves. Everyone made improvements over the weekend and we got to see some sights of Wales that I’m sure a lot of people might not have. The group was small so sharing waves with our small crew was fun. Most destinations we had to ourselves.
Saturday afternoon was topped off with a BBQ in the campgrounds where the crew were all camping for the weekend. Everyone there shared Beers, good times, food and laughs.
After the BBQ, rumors were flowing around about a band playing at the local pub. So of course, a few of us headed down for a night of shenanigans. Waking up on the Sunday tired eyes and sore legs from the dancing that went down, we were greeted with groomed offshore winds, sunshine and perfect 2-3ft swell! I was amazed; anywhere in the world you go, if your there around autumn, the swell and weather always seem to turn on! Robs Wales coaching weekend is at such an optimal time of the year, you’re always in with a great chance of scoring some fun waves like we did.
One last little note, I had heard a lot about welsh cakes and a welsh Rare Bit. I was game enough to try the welsh cake, but not the Rare Bit. I will have to leave that for next time.
All in all, Wales is a great country. The people are friendly, the waves are fun and the countryside is beautiful. I can’t wait to get back there! I just wanted to say a big thanks to the Bodyboard Holidays crew and Rob Barber for inviting me and letting me come with on such a rad trip.