Letter: Surfing UK

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Sir: I was most surprised to read the opening sentence of "You don't have to be an Australian" (6 August): "Legend has it that a group of travelling Australian lifeguards brought surfing to Britain in the early Sixties".

In 1949 I was stationed as a national serviceman in Cornwall, and during that gloriously hot summer I and my fellow officer cadets took every opportunity in off-duty hours to dash to the beaches of Newquay or Polzeath, where surfboards could be hired quite cheaply at the cheerful shops which also sold ice-cream, beach balls, spades and buckets.

As beginners, we preferred the less crowded sands of Polzeath to those at Newquay, where the many surfers were a menace to the swimmers and paddlers. Even there, however, I never saw surfers standing up on their boards, and it may be this more difficult art that the Australians introduced later.