Hello there, my name is Alex. Nottingham University has like, 200 societies and the kids at Impact thought it would be a laugh if I went and tried some of them out and told you all what I think. Not sure if you want to pay that membership fee? Whether it’s BladeSoc or BlowSoc, I’ll be there interviewing the president, attending the socials and getting involved so you don’t have to. You bunch of ingrates.
Soc-umentary – A factual article about a society, presenting the facts with little or no fiction. As in, ‘Did you see that socumentary about Bellringing? That shit cray.’
Socumentary #2 – NU Surf
‘Oh mama, I wanna go surfing/Oh mama, I don’t care about nothing’, unfortunately not a direct transcription from a conversation with my mother – she never calls :’( – but nevertheless an accurate portrayal of how I felt last weekend ahead of my trip down to Newquay with Nottingham University’s very own Surf Soc. Why not listen to the song whilst you read? And when you’re done with that, check this out. I <3 Alt-J.
In their own words NU Surf is ‘Nottingham’s chilled out, ego free Surf Club’ and they claim to be ‘one of the most active University Surf Clubs in the country’ despite living in the East Midlands. They do roughly three trips a year, and I nominated to go on the first to Newquay, Cornwall. Would my limited surfing ability make me stand out, or would they accept me? What is the etiquette for peeing in wetsuits? And if something is ‘gnarly’ is that good or bad? Armed with these questions, and many more, I went surfing.
Now for those of you with a shaky grip on British geography, Newquay is approximately a fuck load of miles away (6 hours), and we were travelling in style…
I should mention that my girlfriend was also on this trip which obvs made it a bit nicer for me, but you totes don’t need a gf to have a good time on one of these trips. I only really wanted to say this so I could post this picture I took of her seemingly making love to a surf board, the harlot.
Anyways, the journey down passed relatively quickly and we were greeted at the caravan site by the rest of the group who had come down the day before us. It was about half eleven when we arrived and as you’d expect everyone was pretty wasted. We dumped our bags and headed into town with them for a big night out.
Our destination was a place called Sailors, which was a club about as camp as it sounds. It was full of uni students here for the BUCS surfing competition and the occasional rowdy local wanting to punch someone. I was pretty sober, and had to plump for an unholy £15 bottle of wine which tasted like feet.
You could kind of understand why the locals were so keen on punching people when their local club had the temerity to try and sell them oxygen:
I mean, really? Oxygen? Soon they’ll be charging you extra to enjoy their gravity. Except when this comes on ofc.
To be honest the club was pretty av, and I wasn’t as drunk as I needed to be (8.5% WINE?! FOR £15?!) but the rest of the surf crew seemed to be having a good time, so I headed back on the bus; which was pretty entertaining on its own.
The next day I woke up bright and early (11 o’clock) for my first day of surfing and was astounded at just how beautiful it was. I mean I’m not sure what the weather was like in Nottingham that weekend, but I doubt it topped this.
After a prescription Cornish pasty for breakfast, I slid into a damp club wetsuit (gross) and headed off for a lesson organised by the society for the less able surfers in the group. Here’s a picture of me before my first day at (surf) school in my (surf) school uniform.
We were taught how to catch a wave, stay on that wave and stand up. It was actually surprisingly easy, but then I am a don lad (and I have done it a couple of times before).
With the basics drilled into us we hit the waves, and instantly beginners and returners alike were getting the hang of it. The more experienced surfers were nearby, offering help and advice when needed. The amount of people graduating from body boarding to standing up on the wave was impressive.
After two hours or so of surfing, exhausted but exhilarated, I was beginning to lose circulation in my feet and headed in. It was in the minibus getting changed out of the wetsuit that I met this strange creature.
His name is Will and it turned out after having a bit too much to drink at the club last night he’d blacked out and woken up at five am outside a Tesco express. Needless to say, he wasn’t surfing much that day.
Eventually everyone came in and we all headed back to the caravans, which were actually really nice. In many ways better than my house in Lenton; there was a TV, a nice shower, well fitted kitchen, hell there was even a mirror in the bedroom! (My house is pretty shitty).
That night was fine night, which is basically when the president comes up with a bunch of fines and dishes them out to the group with drinking punishments.
I’m not entirely sure what was in this cocktail but it kind of tasted like capri-sun and slowly crept up on you during the evening. I should also probably say that at no point was it in any way ‘forced drinking’ or whatever the Daily Mail is calling it; no one was actively made to drink anything.
As you can see it was pretty cramped in the caravan, but we all squeezed in. Like one big, drunk family.
There was a multitude of fines, ranging from one for putting your wetsuit on backwards to one for not attending the pre-trip social. My girlfriend and I got one for rocking the caravan the night before. Three cups of ‘surf cocktail’ was the punishment.
Having made our way through the entirety of the alcohol, we adjourned to the campsite club (post a sneaky chunder-dragon or two).
The club was good fun. Everyone was hammered. There were loads of other unis present and some bizarre costumes.
The final night had been a good excuse to catch up on the more humorous parts of the trip and get to know everyone. It didn’t even matter that the venue looked like it normally hosted bingo nights and the bouncers had skull tattoos on their faces. Everyone seemed to be having a good time.
Some people clearly had too much of a good time.
Drunk, happy and weary from a day of surfing I headed home later hoping to be sober enough to go surfing the next day.
Some people were less successful than me.
The general malaise felt after the night before wasn’t helped by the fact the waves were HUGE that day. Apparently something called the cribbar was happening, if you’ve read Skeleton Key you might know what I’m talking about.
Regardless we made the most of our last few hours of surfing. CHECK ME OUT!
With the sun setting it was time to head home, so I grabbed a couple of minutes with the hugely huggable president of NU Surf, James Smith.
Hey James, so why should people join NU Surf?
We organise trips so you don’t have to. It can be difficult to get people together on your own but being in NU Surf you get to use our buses and kit. Also, it’s a really friendly atmosphere, you get to learn with other people who will probably be at a similar level and the social aspect is very strong; some people just do it for the banter!
What kind of person does NU Surf attract?
We attract chilled, easy going people. Almost the opposite of NU Snow! There are no egos, what waves you surf and how adventurous you are is completely up to you. No one’s going to act like they’re better than you. Although my top surfing tip would be too always push yourself in surfing to your boundaries, that’s the only way you’ll get better!
What do you need for trip?
You don’t need to bring your own board or wetsuit, although some people do choose to get their own after a while if they’ve been on a few trips. They’ll be better than ours! Other than that. just yourself and lots of warm clothes.
Finally, what would you say to someone unsure about joining?
I’d just tell them to come down to one of our socials at least once just to meet the people because we’re really nice, there’s a great atmosphere and a good mix of abilities for any surfer.
So after one last group photo we piled into our respective minibuses and headed home, back to grey rainy Notts. The weather, the place and the people meant I had a great time with NU Surf. I think the lasting impression I got was that literally anyone, of any surfing ability, was welcome. There were people on the committee who were clearly still getting to grips with the technique, so as a newbie to both surfing and the society there’s no chance of being excluded. If you’re a more experienced surfer then this too is perfect for you, with dedicated group going ‘out back’ every day to catch the real waves. At £90, this weekend might seem a tad pricey, but for what you get I would certainly recommend it. Gnarly?
Good: if you like the seaside, eating Cornish pasties and long car journeys.
Bad: if you don’t like being ever so slightly damp and a bit hungover.