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An Introduction to Tidal Bore Surfing.

In the last century, there have been more than sixty reported tidal bores occuring around the world.

Many of these are baby bores reaching no higher than a foot at the head that wash drearily up shallow channels.

Then there are the bore giants, the Qiantang Dragon, and, formerly, the Seine Mascaret, with waves which can exceed five metres.

A monster of destruction, the Dragon, can plough up the river at speeds in excess of fifteen knots tearing up everything in it's path.

But between these two extremes, lies a group of bores that hold a special interest to a small group of people - they are surfable.

Being Bore-in

On 21st July 1955, the young son of a local farmer gazed out of his window at Stonebench to see a spectacular site. A man, dressed in bathing costume, riding a large plank like object on the Severn Tide. At the time, this must have appeared quite ridiculous, yet what that boy witnessed would over the next half century become a sport in it's own right, with a small group of devoted waterman around the globe...

At the time of writing, four localities around the world have tidal bores surfed regularly, and several others are being investigated. However, as few as twenty surfers worldwide may actually be seen riding their respective bores on every feasible tide!

Crowds can amass, but they soon disperse again and it is the local surfers that still remain. The river becomes their local surf break and they study it like any resident surfer would, learning the channels, where the banks are, what happens under different conditions. But the fascination grows deeper. The ebb and flow of the tides and the passage of the moon can also compel the bore surfer to learn more.

Bore Gurus Dave Lawson and Steve King riding the Bore at Weir GreenThe philosophy of the bore surfer has its roots grounded in the original malibu surfing ethos. The concept of connecting with the wave, becoming part of the wave. This is where understanding leads - being able to move with the wave freely without thought. So the skill in bore surfing is not just about riding a wall of whitewater for miles and miles, but knowing what is going to happen next, where the wave is going to break. Taking the opportunity for manouveres when face is offered but retreating back to the critical shoulder at the right time.

Founding members of the Severn Bore Riders Club on Newnham bank in 1998But these skills can not be learnt, they can only be developed over time. The rivers constantly change, banks shift, flows vary. This keeps a constant stream of excitement and anticipation flowing through the bore surfer unknowing of what the next tide could bring. Add to this the thrill of the chase, by van or car, to again get in front of the tide and have another attempt, the fulfilment of discovering a new break, and the sheer stoke of surfing among scenary and wildlife so very removed from coastlines of the world, then the bore experience is complete.

This is what bore surfing is all about!

Random Severn Bore Surfing Photo 1. Random Severn Bore Surfing Photo 2. Random Severn Bore Surfing Photo 3. Random Severn Bore Surfing Photo 4. Random Severn Bore Surfing Photo 5. Random Severn Bore Surfing Photo 6. Random Severn Bore Surfing Photo 7.