Monique Roffey at London's only surfing shop
THE SUN'S out, the surf's up, and if you're thinking of buying a board, now's a good time to start browsing. A new shipment of fine, hand-crafted surfboards is about to arrive at Low Pressure, London's only specialist surf shop, any day soon.

"We sold out all our last stock of boards at Easter," says Marc Hare, 24, who designs the shop's own-label surf wear. "Right now we only have second-hand boards in the shop."

Low Pressure was opened three years ago just off the Portobello Road in Notting Hill. Since then, its managers Kore Antonsen, 22, and Marc Hare, 24, have often been seen skateboarding shirtless along the pavements of Ladbroke Grove, and have become local heroes and heart-throbs in the area. For the shop, which apart from selling the "hardware" (surf and snowboards) also sells a wide range of cult surfwear and accessories much favoured by resident Notting Hill trendies. They sell more Arnet sunglasses than any other shop in the country and their fat-soled North Wave skateboarding shoes are also a big must-have with the locals.

But having such a central urban location has its drawbacks - urban surf geeks and wannabes who want to buy into the image. "Yeah, we get a lot of geeks in here," admits Marc. "They're the ones who own three of everything and have pristine clothes and unscuffed shoes." Unlike the real thing. "Real surfers have no money and only have one board, old clothes and trashed old shoes." Surfing, say the boys, takes a high level of fitness and perseverance. "People like the glamour of it, but often get put off by the hard work."

There are also geographical disadvantages to trying to learn how to surf in this country. "Surfing is the hardest sport in the world to pick up," says Kore. "You need to know the ocean and spend a lot of time in it, which is hard for people here." They have managed to knit together 400 hardcore regulars, the Portobello Surf Club, a bone fide surfing elite who go on surfing trips to north Devon every week, rain or shine. "The club's a real mixture," says Marc. "There are some really young members in their teens, and we're like their dads, then there's the travellers who do the world circuit and then there's people like us." Marc, a former BMX trick biker, learnt to surf by joining the club three years ago. "BMX-ing, skating, surfing, all have the same feel," he says. "They're all young sports which push things to the extreme where could hurt yourself, which is part of the thrill of doing it."

Both see the shop as a way of realising their own footloose and free- living Utopian dreams. "I want to make enough money so I can own five houses, one in every continent, so I can have winter and go snow boarding whenever I want. Kore wants to end up living and surfing fulltime in Queensland, Australia." Girlfriends will have to be prepared to keep up. "I'm definitely not a man who likes the babe on the beach with the binoculars," says Kore. "I like women who get in the water."

Surfing, it seems, is a philosophy as well as a sport, even as far from the snow and sea as the Portobello Road. "Surfing and snowboarding are about having a life," says Marc. "It's about being outdoors, up a mountain or in the water rather than watching television and drinking beer. It's about being in the natural world. I pursue everything in the same way. I never think there are things I can't do or conquer. Nothing's impossible."

Low Pressure, 186 Kensington Park Road, London W11, telephone 0171 792- 3134

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