Monday, 10 March 2014

Windsurfing at Marazion

Magic Maza

Marazion Beach near to Penzance on the south coast of Cornwall remains a popular spot for windsurfing despite being some what over shadowed by it's north coast counter parts.
It's generally the place to head to if the wind directions are a bit flukey for the north coast spots around Gwithian, if the conditions are just too crazy for the more exposed beaches or if you want to sacrifice any real down the line riding to polish up your jumping skills.

It tends to be onshore, alot, which usually provides fairly soft crumbly waves and lots and lots of whitewater to bounce over looking for a good ramp.

Every once in a while though excitement mounts as the forecast wind, swell and tide conditions are set to come together to deliver the perfect Marazion set up fabled to transform the ugly ducking of a beach into a beautiful swan.   Typically however disappointment more commonly replaces excitement as the forecast wind or waves fail to arrive.

Each year precious hours are wasted by many of the addicted local crew sitting glumly in the dreary car park gazing hopefully at the skies above Penzance for some sign of weather change, complacently ignoring the picture postcard scenery of the fabled St Michaels Mount straight out front.  Instead day dreaming of the scenario "if only there were decent sized waves to be groomed by that cross off wind or vice versa".  These tormented few have had a taste of "Magic Maza" and endure the wait on the slim chance of getting more whilst those that haven't dismiss it as a myth.

So when the long range forecast started to show signs of a strong North Westerly wind in Cornwall coinsiding with a considerable SW swell any early excitement was dampened by the niggling doubts of wondering if things would actually come together this time.

As the day drew nearer the wind forecast on my favoured had stayed promising and the swell forecast started to go off the scale, quite a common pattern for the last few months. Talk of the biggest waves in the world (on that day) hitting Cornwall spread across social media and the local tv and radio news broadcasts.

Yet again with a monster swell coinciding with spring tides there were flood warnings being issued left right and centre.  Many coastal harbour towns already reeling from a winter of super storms were frantically preparing for yet another battering.

Ironically a large section of the Marazion car park is currently being used to unload huge lumps of stone on route to sure up the damaged sea defences at Long Rock that prior to this winter had adequately protected the railway line heading to Penzance.

When the day dawned one piece of the equation was in place straight off with decent waves to be seen on the web cam wrapping right into St Mounts bay.  The wind however was little more than a gentle grooming breeze, holding up the well spaced rolling lines of swell.  Ideal for surfing but no where near enough to sail.

The skies were clear and it looked like it might not happen yet again, the wait had begun.

Lunchtime brought with it a little promise as the wind started to fill in at home and it was time to head down to the beach.  The forecast wind certainly had arrived as the van was getting buffeted as I sped westward and then "Boom" as I passed Praa Sands I caught sight of the sea and my heart began to race.  Lines of solid, simmering green, mast high, peeling right handers were marching towards the beach whilst trailing fifty metre plumes of spray like wedding veils before smashing violently into the sand and rocky headland.  You could actually hear the energy each wave had carried for a thousand miles escaping as they took turn to unload and disintegrate onto the Cornish shore line. 

It was only now that I allowed a little excitement to creep over me and I had a wry smile firmly planted on my face as I arrived at the beach. 

The conditions were epic, F5-6 cross offshore NW winds and a building well spaced head to logo high swell thumping into the beach.

After watching a few of the regular guys hooking into a few gems I rigged my 4.7m Goya Banzai and  84ltr Quatro Cube Quad and headed out 

It was as good as it looked and near to perfect for a beach break.  Although cross off shore there were still decent ramps to throw in the obligatory back loops and ponches before pinching upwind to the Long Rock reef.  Here you could tack and set yourself up deep on a set with an angle to backdoor the first peak on the reeling righthand bombs that would run all the way back past the car park.   The waves were holding up at solid logo high on the sets and presenting multiple aerial sections if you had the nerve to go very late and hit the lip.  I was continuously getting six to eight proper bottom turns and smacks on each set wave with room to spare.  

Even the sun was playing ball and stayed out long enough between each cloud to take the edge off the sub 10 degree air temps.

The level of sailing was rocking with aerials and big turns going down everywhere.  Wave after wave was getting carved to bits to and it was hard to believe that this was happening at Marazion!

Four hours later most of the sailors had been satisfied as the spring high tide and resultant barrelling shore dump cleared the water of any late comers.  As if to draw the curtain on the show a monstrous hail storm arrived just on cue to round off a memorable day of Marazion perfection.

On the drive home I pondered why this session felt so special.  I mean the North coast frequently delivers quality down the line sailing, all be it mostly port tack, but there is some thing very different when you score great waves on the South Coast.  Maybe it is just the novelty or more the fact that it restores ones faith in that spot.  Regardless this day "Maza" certainly ruffled it's feathers and banged its chest as if to say "This is what I can do, when i want to.." before drifting back to it's onshore hibernation. 

Steve King 
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