The usual stereotypical image of surfers is of them contorting waves to do their bidding, long flicking hair and wandering off into the sunset for a barbeque with an achingly attractive woman. With the Beach Boys providing the soundtrack, of course. However this is more Bondai than St Andrews. Therefore, given the North Sea has recently done its best to recreate the Tempest off the Fife coast, it is quite fitting that a new surf school has cropped up to allow us to take advantage of those radical waves man…that is surfer speak, yeah?
Under the auspices of surfing maestro Maurice Bryson, the highly successful Irish surf school, Oceanics, based in the equally windswept Co. Waterford, has set up a Scottish division in our own fair town. I joined him on the beach at West Sands (I’m too much of a landlubber to even consider joining him out in the sea) to try and get a handle on the growing passion for aquatic based exertion in St Andrews. His pupils are in good hands; he has been surfing since he can remember, studies Marine Biology, has won Irish championships and tackled waves in France, Spain and US. He also sails, and has been instructing since 16, qualifying at the age of 18. Did I mention he models too? It would be fair to say that the salty brine flows through his Adonis like veins.
“Surfing in St Andrews is almost taboo, but it’s also that sneaky thing people always want to do but don’t talk about,” Maurice confides in me. However, he is of the opinion that due to the growing interest in extreme sports, St Andrews is probably one of the more optimally located places in Great Britain to surf, since, in his Irish lilt, he explained, “we are surrounded by pretty good waves and a few hours north we have one of the best spots on the planet, Thurso.”
One of the benefits of living in St Andrews is that almost anything and everything goes. From rugby to parkour, your particular interest can be satisfied. “I hope to see more students getting to experience something totally new in this town” Maurice emphasises. Watching the wetsuit clad students getting put through their paces, in what aesthetically looks an incredible thrilling sport, I’m inclined to agree. Even I, the arch coward, one day might be encouraged to step out fall off the board multiple times.
So, Oceanics St Andrews is there to fulfil all your wannabe Beach Boy needs. It is perhaps the best tribute to the power of sport that students feel empowered enough to set up their own initiative and spread it, much like peace and love, to the greater St Andrews public. The North Sea has plenty of water in it, so make use of it. Just wrap up warm.