Over breakfast we could just about make out large quantities of white water breaking in the distance off Towan Headland, which meant the Cribbar could be working. Ross made the call that we should give it a quick eyeball before heading down the coast. Had we not been in the hotel, there’s no way we would’ve even given the Cribbar a thought from elsewhere. Bearing in mind the three of us were all nursing nasty hangovers, the Cribbar was probably the last place we should’ve been headed.
Situated off the headland at the NE end of Fistral Beach in Newquay, the Cribbar is probably Cornwall’s most famous ‘big wave’. It was first surfed way back in 1966, by Australians Pete Russell, Rick Friar and Johnny McElroy, plus the American Jack Lydgate. Since that ground-breaking session, it’s been on the radar of riders seeking the ultimate challenge. The wave has been splashed over the front pages of the tabloids over the years, almost ridiculing it by labelling it with such names as the ‘Widow Maker’ and the ‘Bone Cruncher’. It takes a west swell of at least 4m at 14-15 seconds to start breaking and ideally a south/south east wind for ideal cross-offshore sailing. The currents, especially on the incoming tide, tend to draw you into the break and towards the rocks, so if you wipe out, it’s not a nice place to be. The rocks at the base of the Towan Headland are perhaps what make this spot the most daunting. Simply put, they’re like a fortress of deep, sharp gulleys from the looks of which no board or human would ever make it out in one piece.