The Cribbar breaks rarely…perhaps a few times a year… if you’re lucky…Unless you live close to Newquay and keep a keen eye on the surf reports the chances are, you could miss it. The reason it breaks so rarely isn’t (as far as I’m aware) about voodoo or spells, it is just that a lot of factors have to come into play simultaneously in order to create the right conditions.
Good surfable waves at the Cribbar are not just about a big swell, but also about the swell direction, the wind speed, and direction of that wind…all of these things come into play. Once you have all of these things happening, the next ingredient you need are surfers skilled and crazy enough to surf it!
On the 30th of October it was one of those lucky days.
When I got up I noticed that even the weather was exceptionally warm for the time year. As I looked out of my window I could see large crowds gathering up on the headland. I left the flat and was glad I bothered to lug a heavy camcorder and tripod up the headland, because when I looked down over Cribbar rocks mother nature had decided to conjure up near perfect big wave surf conditions.
30ft faces smashed down a 100m away, there were bright blue skies and the atmosphere was electric. People hooted and cheered, it was like a Cornish version of Half Moon Bay, this was our Mavericks.
And to top it all there were guys like Ben Skinner and Richie Sills, amped up to tow in to monster waves.
Around 100 excited onlookers watched as surfers used jet skis to tow into the huge waves that rolled in from the mid Atlantic.
Richie Sills and Ben Skinner charged. Each time a surfer made a wave and huge cheer went up. I’ve never seen so many people taking photos.
The standard of big wave surfing in the UK has gone form strength to strength in recent years and more and more of the local crew in Newquay have got involved with tow in and surfing big waves here as well as in Scotland and Ireland.
When the Cribbar is on it’s our Mavericks and the atmosphere on the headland was electric. People witnessed high-performance, world class big wave surfing right on their door step in Newquay.
The guys put it all on the line with some critical surfing, even getting barrelled on huge sets.
Ben Skinner (perhaps the greatest all round surfer in the UK ) even threw in some little chop-hop tricks.
Your average surfer would probably drown if they tried to surf out there and these guys are did tricks!
There was even someone paddling in on an SUP, but he seemed to get caught inside and took a few on the head ( see pic below). It looked like he lost his paddle and had to come in.
Here’s what the conditions looked like on paper:
- 14-15ft swell16 sec wave period
- 15-20mph cross/ offshore wind
- Breaking wave face estimate 18-30ft
Well, if it looks like that again, you can be sure the boys will be out – but we may have to wait a while!
Hi, this is great. I like the explanantion of the different dynamics that make the wave break. I shall look out for them in the surf reports. I use MSW but I guess there are others. I would be grateful if you could let me know which web sites are good for the Cribbar and how is it possible to find out whether anyone will be surfing it if you’re not local. You see, I narrowly missed the spectacle on 30th of October being stuck in pesky traffic jams on the way to Newquay and got there after dark. I went to watch the wave over the next few days but surferless to my disappointment and was told that it wasn’t breaking well enough. Not sure if that was due to the tides, wind or something else. Sadly had leave on 2nd Nov so missed it all. I’d hate to miss it again.
The video is spectacular and you mention Ben Skinner and Richie Sills, but Dan Chapman a friend of theirs (and a friend of mine), was also there tow surfing with them but he doesn’t get a mention in any articles except one I found in Newquay Voice. Maybe because he’s from Kent like me, hardly a place famous for it’s erratic rare surf. Just think he deserves more recognition, it takes nerves of steel to ride such waves. Total respect to the guy!
That sucks you got stuck in traffic and missed the tow in sessions. Anyway thanks for giving Dan Chapman the recognition he deserves as that was some monster surf.
In terms of knowing when the Cribbar will break well you really need to check the charts for big swell (usually 12ft +) and ideally a good wave period too (usually 10-16 secs). Then a favbouable wind that is cross or offshore in direction, but usually not of over gale force strength.
You can use MagicSeaWeed charts to look for the best conditions, as MSW does have a specific Cribbar report. However in terms of knowing when the guys will definitely decide to surf is really down to random chance. I only knew this time, because I can see it from my flat. If Cribbar looks good then there is a chance people will tow-in, but you only know for sure if you can see the jet-skis turn up.
I’ve never seen a tow-in team do a press release announcing to the media to say they are going to go surf the Cribbar, but they may do to the national press as there are often news photographers there. Other than that follow people on Twitter like @Carvemag and @wavelengthmag as they usually have their fingers on the pulse.