‘It’s a lit­tle more wild’

Surfers catch waves off Nova Scotia year-round

The News (New Glasgow) - - PERSPECTIVES - BY ALY THOM­SON news­[email protected]­guardian.pe.ca Twitter.com/PEIGuardian

Cal­i­for­nian Daniel Fahie is go­ing surf­ing, but it’s not what you think.

Clad in snug win­ter wet­suits, Fahie and his 15-year-old daugh­ter Mi­randa carry two surf­boards un­der their arms to­wards Nova Scotia’s Lawrencetown Beach and plunge belly-first into the frigid wa­ters of the At­lantic Ocean.

It’s hov­er­ing around 1 C at the pic­turesque beach on the prov­ince’s East­ern Shore, renowned for its waves and year-round surf­ing.

“We woke up this morn­ing and saw snow and said, ‘Let’s go to the ocean!’ That’s what nor­mal peo­ple do, right?” said 53-year-old Daniel Fahie, a be­gin­ner surfer who is from the Hal­i­fax area but has lived in Cal­i­for­nia for two decades.

“It’s fun and it’s great for her to get out and ex­pe­ri­ence what’s it’s like to be in the water in the cold.”

Many as­sume that surf­ing is a sum­mer-only ac­tiv­ity, but Nova Scotia’s con­sis­tent off­shore weather dur­ing the win­ter months makes for spec­tac­u­lar waves up to five days a week, surfer Pete Cove says.

“That’s what’s so ap­peal­ing as a surfer to want to get in the water when it’s -2 C in the water and -20 C in the air,” said Cove, who works with the East Lawrence­town­based East Coast Surf School.

“We have ab­so­lutely amaz­ing con­di­tions with a fairly small com­mu­nity of surfers.”

The school - founded by Nova Scotia pro­fes­sional surfer Nico Manos - of­fers surf­ing lessons by ap­point­ment all year at Lawrencetown Beach Pro­vin­cial Park, a scenic 30-minute drive from down­town Hal­i­fax.

This year, the school is also run­ning a se­ries of group surf­ing lessons from De­cem­ber through May at White Point Beach Resort in White Point, N.S.

Win­ter surf­ing looks a lot like sum­mer surf­ing, but with more cloth­ing.

The Fahies wore big smiles as they pad­dled their surf­boards straight into the waves and even­tu­ally at­tempted to pop up on their boards. They ap­peared un­phased by the chilly ocean water.

Cove com­pared surf­ing on a cold day to ski­ing or snow­board­ing on a cold day - the win­ter wet­suits cover al­most your en­tire body and keep you “quite warm.”

“I don’t think there’s any feel­ing like catch­ing a wave and hav­ing the en­ergy of a wave pro­pel you to­wards shore on a board,” said Cove, a for­mer pro­fes­sional life­guard who has been surf­ing for 13 years.

He warned that ab­so­lute be­gin­ners face a steep learn­ing curve, but the school has an 80 per cent success rate of stu­dents stand­ing on their board dur­ing the first les­son.

“You don’t have to be a pro to have an ab­so­lute blast in the water,” said Cove, stand­ing on a board­walk un­der a cold rain as

waves crashed into the rugged shore­line.

“Of­ten times our stu­dents have a re­ally good time belly rid­ing and if that’s their goal, to just have fun and catch a wave and only ride it on their stom­ach, then that’s a success for us.”

Cove con­ceded many peo­ple, even lo­cals, are sur­prised you can surf in Nova Scotia at all, let alone dur­ing the prov­ince’s harsh win­ter months.

“We’re a lit­tle bit off the beaten path. It’s some­thing that is unique to this area that peo­ple don’t ex­pect that you can ac­tu­ally do, and it’s a lit­tle more wild,” said Cove.

He said Nova Scotia surf­ing is “world-class.”

“If you look at the coast­line here, it’s pretty spec­tac­u­lar. You don’t have the mas­sive crowds that you have in most places that are re­ally known for surf­ing. It’s a great spot for learn­ing, but also to grow as a surfer and be­come an ex­pert-level surfer as well.”

“We woke up this morn­ing and saw snow and said, ‘Let’s go to the ocean!’ That’s what nor­mal peo­ple do, right?” Daniel Fahie

AN­DREW VAUGHAN/THE CANA­DIAN PRESS

A surfer rides a wave in Cow Bay, N.S. re­cently. Surf­ing is a year-round ac­tiv­ity in Nova Scotia with great con­di­tions and am­ple re­sources to ac­com­mo­date all skill lev­els.

AN­DREW VAUGHAN/THE CANA­DIAN PRESS

Pete Cove, an in­struc­tor at the East Coast Surf School, helps Daniel Fahie, left, and his daugh­ter Mi­randa suit up at Lawrencetown Beach in East Lawrencetown, N.S. last month. Surf­ing is a year-round ac­tiv­ity in Nova Scotia with great con­di­tions and am­ple re­sources to ac­com­mo­date all skill lev­els.

AN­DREW VAUGHAN/THE CANA­DIAN PRESS

Pete Cove, an in­struc­tor at the East Coast Surf School, talks about win­ter surf­ing at Lawrencetown Beach in East Lawrencetown, N.S.

AN­DREW VAUGHAN/THE CANA­DIAN PRESS

Daniel Fahie and his 15-year-old daugh­ter Mi­randa head to the water at Lawrencetown Beach in East Lawrencetown, N.S.

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