A Porthleven boy born and bred Pete Edkins has grown up with one of the UKʼs premier reef breaks on his doorstep. Anybody who knows ʻLev will be aware how busy it can get – while not a secret spot it certainly has its fair share of protective locals. Unsurprising when you consider itʼs not a break for the faint hearted – shallow and rocky with a narrow take off experience is most definitely needed to ride here. And yet Pete has chosen to paddle a SUP in whatʼs considered prime surfing real estate – big cojones indeed. We caught up with Pete to hear more about the fabled spot, how it is to surf as a stand up and what motivates the UKʼs most photographed paddle surfer (currently) to get amongst it.
Tell us about your surfing background – you obviously havenʼt always ridden waves with a paddle in your hand.
I started surfing when I was 13. We used to walk to Praa Sands with one board between four of us and would spend all summer on our wooden belly boards on the pier. I surfed a short board up until two years ago.
Why did you decide to start SUPing at Porthleven?
Porthleven is my home break. Itʼs one of the best reefs in Europe. Every wave is an adrenalin rush. I would choose to SUP in Porthleven over any other place and itʼs somewhere I have surfed since day one.
Did you get a load of stick when you first went out on a stand up?
YES! I got so much stick to start with, lots of cheering when I made mistakes. But what would you expect?
Howʼs the vibe now – is it heckles all the way or have surfers got used to you?
The vibe is pretty cool. Being one of the old surf crew there they had to accept me on my paddle board (I wasnʼt going anywhere).
Is it a hard wave to ride on a SUP – what do you have to be aware of and what hazards can bite you?
Crowds mainly: up to 30/40 people on the peak all the time. You paddle for a wave and there will be 10 – 15 people paddling towards you, you have to weave in and out of them. I have snapped 24 leashes there in the past two years, so boards have ended up on the rocks a few times. There are no margins for error as there will always be someone in front of you and if you get caught inside you will have a beating across the rocks
What would you say to any aspiring paddle surfer looking to mix it up at ʻLev?
Get used to crowds! If you canʼt handle crowds and are not comfortable in a pack of surfers avoid Porthleven at all costs as there is only one take off point. Be aware that it is surfer territory and the guys are good riders – they wonʼt give you right of way.
How did Fatstickʼs support come about?
Fatstick saw some pictures of me on my SUP through Facebook and contacted me and asked if I was interested in joining the team.
What gear are you currently rocking and why? Howʼs it working out at whatʼs essentially a hollow, fast, peeling wave?
At the moment I am riding the Fatstick 8.6ft Fish with a Fatstick carbon paddle. Itʼs been a fantastic board. I have ridden it in 2ft – 15ft waves. Just surfs amazing. Iʼve had some of the best barrels ever on a paddle board on my Fatstick. I also use a shorter 8.2ft surf and a 9ft long SUP when conditions are right.
Where else do you surf or is Porthleven pretty much your one stop shop?
I like to mix it up and travel all over the Cornish Coast, every break is different. Iʼve got some amazing secret spots but sorry no pics and canʼt tell you where!
Any trips planned in 2016 for SUP surf missions – if so, where you headed (UK or abroad)?
Maybe a trip Morocco or perhaps go back to France and make more friends at La Graviere…
Final thoughts and shout outs?
If someone is verbally abusive in the water just be nice and don’t retaliate! A big shout out and thank you to the nicest guys at Fatstick for supplying me with such fantastic gear. And to all the talented photographers for their pictures. I owe them all a few pints.
Pics courtesy Reginald Clark and Tom