Mentro 18. Autumn Warmth, Rhossili Bay, Gower 8th October 2015.

Mentro 18 Rhossili

Autumn is like one great big sunset on the year. Surftember moves into October as leaves brown and fall from the trees. It hasn’t been the best summer and even Surftember didn’t live up to its name. El Nino has ruined the party like a drunken ex-boyfriend crashing an engagement do.

Surf Rhossili

But today on Gower, October offered up some post storm swell and some Autumn sun. So I headed for my usual break, Rhossili Bay. The air is cooling but the high thermal inertia of the sea means it is still a summer 14 degrees C. Air and water almost becoming the same temperature. So I notched up my eighteenth (Mentro 18) surf in my #Mentro21 project to surf 21 times this year.

Mentro 18

Having the day off for my birthday, celebrating 42 years since I came kicking and screaming into this world, I decided to spend it kicking, paddling and screaming into some clean two foot sets in the October sun. I either saw a Portuguese Man-o-war type jellyfish or an inflated plastic bag pretending to be a Portuguese Man-o-war jellyfish. Either way I gave it a wide berth. I also got a scare from a large bass that decided to jump a couple of feet out of the water right next to me, as I sat on my board out back.

Clean Rhossili

There was not a breath of wind. A great change for a usually wind blown Gower.  These two had the best seat in the house to watch the waves.

Best Seat in the House Rhossili

The best thing about October surfing is that by late afternoon everything becomes a sunset.

Rhossili Sunset

I had the sea and pretty much the car park to myself, “after the boys of summer have gone” as Don Henly would say.

Gower Sunset

So the sun sets on Mentro 18, leaving three sessions to go to complete the #Mentro21 project, DimExcuses.

 

 

Mentro 16. Challenges should be motivating. Rhossili, Gower 13th September 2015.

Mentro 16 Rhossili

What a difference a weekend makes. On Friday I was doubting if I would surf 21 times this year for my #Mentro21 project. Recovering from injury, facing cooling weather and shorter days, a flat start to Surftember was looking to scupper my plans. But a good swell came in on Thursday, and I was able to do the double, intimidating Sker Beach on Friday and a more mellow Rhossili on Sunday.

Unsung Hero

Today was great, some sun, offshore winds and a steady one foot swell. I was joined by Darren Green and Gareth Cook. It is always good to get out in the water with your mates. So two more surfs done, five to go, DimExcuses.

Mentro 11 Kenfig Sands & Mentro 12 Rhossili. A tale of two beaches.

Kenfig NNR

Not really a tale more of a quick update. No #Mentro21 project updates for over a week, and then like buses two come at once. The #Mentro21 project to go surfing twenty one times this year is going really well, I am half way now.

Rhossili Head

Just like the week before last, I got a surf in at Sker Beach, Kenfig Sands (Mentro 9) on Friday night after work and then made it to Rhossili Bay, Gower (Mentro 10) on the Saturday. The long walk from Kenfig National Nature Reserve Centre to Sker Beach I have been doing on my own, bare foot and in my wetsuit. It takes half an hour and means I can’t take my camera for any beach shots. You will have to make do with Kenfig pool and its famous tree.

Kenfig Pool Tree

To find out more about Kenfig National Nature Reserve read the #MyGreenSpace post from a couple of weeks ago.

It was quite small at Sker Beach and overcast, but I got a few waves. It was interesting to see the pebble beds at low tide so that I now know where they are and can avoid them. Sker isn’t a totally sandy beach and walking over the peoples underwater can be tricky. But what a difference a day makes! The next day Rhossili was a bit on the big side with a horrible onshore wind messing everything up.

Rhossili Bay

The sun was out and it was the National Trust Big Beach Picnic so the carpark, headland and Beach were really busy. The Trust have been really making the most of Rhossili since buying the car park. The pinic looked like a great event and these four got the prime picnic spot!

National Trust Big Beach Picnic

A great day but not the best surf. Well at least I ‘mentro allan’, ventured out. Twelve surfs down, nine to go, DimExcuses.

Mentro 10, everyone else went to Glastonbury, I went to Rhossili. 27th June 2015.

Mentro 10, Rhossili

Last night I surfed Sker Beach, it was heavy, messy, cloudy and wild, the way only surfing deep in a Welsh nature reserve can be. What a difference a day makes. Today I rocked up to a sunny Rhossili Bay, gentle onshore wind and that substantial swell that is pumping in at the moment.

June Rhossili

Almost perfect conditions and a lot of fun. Perfect for the new short board. I went really colourful when I got this one.

DimExcuses Pro Pig

The water is really warm now, breaking through 14 degrees C today. No excuse not to get in.

Rhossili Summer Surf

This was the Mentro 10 surf in my #Mentro21 project. Hopefully this swell will hold and we all will be able to get some summer waves, DimExcuses.

Mentro 8. A Misty Midsummer Night’s Surf, Rhossili.

A misty midsummer night's surf

It seemed like the perfect plan, the second longest day, Gower’s furthest west beach, a 9:40pm sunset and high tide six minutes later. But Welsh weather isn’t a fan of perfect plans and this June continues to disappoint, as we headed back to Rhossili Bay for Mentro 8 in the #Mentro21 project. Molly and Sharon were the ready to rock, if you want to roll, surf patrol.

Ready to Rock if you want to Roll

But we arrived to this, with those who had access to weather reports making alternative plans.

Sea mist

The second longest day was set in heavy cloud, which was then hidden by a thick sea mist. Remember when Rhossili Down used to be there?

We have lost Rhossili Down!

Undeterred I was joined by Luke and Hannah as we made our way into mist to venture down into the sea below. Sharon, Molly, Dennis and Susan stayed on the cliff with now almost zero visibility. Dane from Finn Surfing (up and coming Swansea surfwear brand) popped over for a chat and wished us well before we set off.

Misty Wormshead

We got two hours in with Luke and Hannah getting a lot of bodyboard wave time. As we walked up the mist rose a bit with us, and for a while we could see Wormshead.

Misty Gower Surf

But it started to decend again and our hope of seeming the legendary Wormshead sunset were lost, along with our Midsummer Night’s Dreams.

Wormshead

The nights maybe shortening but I have now added catching a Wormshead Sunset to the #Mentro21 goals. We will catch one, DimExcuses.

Mentro 7, Windy with Extra Jellyfish. Rhossili, Gower 7th June 2015.

Windy Rhossili There is a seasonal tipping point when the seawater shifts to a steady increase in temperature. The sea has a high thermal inertia, it reacts to changes in temperature slowly. The winter surfers, and us spring surfers try to hurry it along, discarding gloves and longing for summer suits and no boots. Wormshead Sunset Finally that day has come. The sun came out for great June day but the air is still unseasonably cool. I headed for a small and windy Rhossili Bay hoping the headland might shield me from this cheaky wind that was making conditions messy. It was much better than it looked with the messy conditions making some interesting peaky waves. But the great thing was that I was comfortable in my summer suit and no boots. Rhossili Bay This strange June had another trick up its selve. Literally swarms of large barrel jellyfish have been washing up on the beach, I saw five just walking in, and much to the worry of my now bare feet they are still floating in the shallows. They apparently (hopefully) don’t have much sting dead. They are more of a psychological worry than an actual risk, so embrace this tipping point into warm waters and get in, DimExcuses.

Mentro 6. Great Day, Rubbish Surf, Rhossili, Gower 24th May 2015.

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This #Mentro21 project, logging all my surfs this year is proving useful. All the recent trips to Rhossili, Gower are blending into one. The van is becoming a common site at the newly acquired National Trust Carpark, spot the bulldog.

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We have had surf too small, surf too big and Goldilocks just right surf but this weekend was too small and totally blown out.

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I went in anyway in the DimExcuses spirit of the #Mentro21 project, but it was impossible to get a stand up ride.

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It was a fantastic day though and I got some great shots of Rhossili Bay, Molly and the van.

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Molly loves Rhossili, she is a proper Gower bulldog.

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She loves having a nose out of the passenger seat of the van.

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Apart from when Sharon gets her out for a cradled pose.

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It is a picture perfect venue at Rhossili with a cracking view in any direction. Here for example is the imposing Wormshead.

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So the surf was awful, but a day at Rhossili is never a day wasted. The water is slowly getting warmer, and it maybe time to lose the boots and swap the winter suit for a summer one, DimExcuses.

Mentro 5. The Gloves Are Off, Rhossili, 10th May 2015.

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It is just a little too cold for not wearing gloves in the water yet. I regretted my choice not to use gloves surfing this Sunday at Rhossili. It was quite painful in the 10C water combined with 13C air temperature.

It is surprising how quick they go numb though and then it isn’t a problem, and surfing without gloves is a much better experience even if a bit nippy.

This was the fifth session in my #Mentro21 project to venture out in the surf at least 21 times this year. Mentro 3 was a bit too small, Mentro 4 was a bit too big, so was this session the Goldilocks conditions that would be just right?

It was totally cloudy and Rhossili was very quiet with my car quite lonely in the car park newly acquired by the National Trust.

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The surf was a consistent one foot with noticeable two foot sets that you could see coming in dark and tall above the other waves. The south cross shore wind was creating steep faces. I was joined by another DimExcuses surfer, Darren, keen to make these trips a regular thing this year and beyond with plans to form the Sandbar Surf & Social Club.

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So five sessions down in the #Mentro21 project and sixteen to go! The gloves are off and staying off. I am now looking forward to when the boots and winter suit can come off, DimExcuses.

Mentro 4, Hard & Fast Rhossili, Gower, 4th May 2015.

Hard & Fast Rhossili

Sometimes you need a hard, messy 3 foot swell with a short period to reset your arrogance levels back to zero, and remind you to respect the sea.

This was the forth session in my #Mentro21 project to surf at least 21 times this year. They are coming thick and fast now with only two days since my last session. What a difference two days makes. The wind had dropped and gone cross shore, enough to mess it all up but there were still rideable lefts and rights, only now they were three times the size!

Heavy Rhossili

I never pay much attention to period but I am learning that it can affect your surfing considerably. Period is the gap between waves, a long period is a big gap and short period a small gap. The longer period the better because you can ride a wave and then paddle back out through one or two waves. With a short period you can take a beating as you get hit by wave after wave as you paddle out.

Riders on the Storm & a Dog

Basically I took a beating. My friend Gareth joined me again for this trip and he was able to get outside through duck diving his performance short board, but even he got caught on the inside with wave after wave hitting him down. There is only so many cold waves smashing you on the head before it is time to go in.

Gareth & Mark DimExcuses Collective

That said I got to use my new National Trust membership again to park for free (or £30 a go if I never go again). Joking aside it is noticeable that the parking is better managed and the staff are brill.

National Trust Rhossili

My long suffering surf widow Sharon came with us this time time which meant Molly the French bulldog could come too. That dog is becoming a proper loon, she followed me out as we waded into the sea, swimming alongside us until the waves forced her to swim in. It also meant I can use Sharon’s photos here (tagged with her twitter username @WarmSand1).

Molly the Surf Bulldog

The surf was far to big for Molly, so she and Sharon used the low tide to discovers shipwrecks that even I haven’t seen.

Shipwreck Molly

So finishing as I started, it is good to have a hard day in the sea, it makes you a better surfer. I always say in this blog know your limitations. Never underestimate the sea, DimExcuses.

Mentro 3. Rhossili, Gower, 2nd May 2015

Dark & Offshore Rhossili

First bank holiday in May and where has the weather gone. In Gower the sea is 9.6C and the air is 11C. The swell is 6.5 foot but it is coming from a strange WSW direction resulting in 1 – 2 foot surf. There is also a 21mph unusual east wind.

I was in two minds to go surfing and get a Mentro 3 session for my #Mentro21 project to surf 21 times this year, when I saw pictures of the surf pumping on Instagram from the Welsh Surfing Championships in Freshwater West. It was enough to get me straight in the van and down Rhossili, Gower.

I was joined by my friend Gareth so I actually had some company for my third surf trip this year. We arrived at 2.30pm and the low tide had been on the way in for an hour. This what it looked like on the way in.

Rhossili Offshore Wind

It was 1 to 1.5 foot and that weird swell direction was pushing waves diagonally into the bay. That east wind was strong and offshore (regular readers will know I love an offshore wind). The swell and offshore wind were producing steep consistent lefts.

Glamorous Windy Changing

I was enjoying, being a goofy footer I prefer lefts as they are on my forehand (balls to wall, if you excuse the expression), until I lifted my board on a dismount and the wind launched it. That awful moment when you see a surfboard fly up in the air and know it is attached to your leg! I covered my face but took a big crack on the head. I have a nice graze and egg sized lump on my head to show for it. DimExcuses I surfed on with a bit of a headache. Here is how Rhossili looked when we came out an hour and a half later, dark and mean lines.

Dark Iines Rhossili

So 3 down 18 to go! You can follow the #Mentro21 project here, and I am planning my next trip, DimExcuses.