Frequently Asked Questions
Got a query about any of our lessons or packages? Have a read through here and get those questions answered...
How big will my group be?
We keep our group sizes to a maximum of 6 students. If requested we can make the groups larger if you want to surf with a big group of friends/family. The maximum recommended ratio of instructor to students in the UK is 1:8, however we always stick to 1:6 as we think it makes it more enjoyable as well as being much safer.
Can I surf with my friend/brother/sister even though they’re a different age/ability to me?
You certainly can, if you don't ask then we would normally try to arrange the groups based on ability and age, however if you want to request to surf with someone that’s no problem at all.
Will I be cold?
We work exclusively with C-Skins wetsuits, who are one of the leaders in cold-water surfing equipment, to make every effort to make sure you’re warm. We have 5mm wetsuits available throughout the year as well as lighter 4mm or 3mm suits as the water gets warmer. We also have neoprene boots, gloves & hoods available for the chillier times. Most importantly the huge range of wetsuit sizes we have at the surf school means you’ll always get a wetsuit that fits perfectly and therefore keeps you snug, most people are amazed how warm they are when surfing!
Are there any sharks?
Given that it’s the ocean then it’s a fair bet that there are sharks somewhere, that’s where they live! However luckily sharks aren't something we have to worry about in Cornwall, there haven’t been any attacks and we've never had any sightings of sharks from Crantock. We do regularly surf with seals and dolphins which is an amazing experience if you’re lucky enough to be in the water with them. Don’t ask about the sea-badgers though!
How good a swimmer do I have to be?
It’s important that you’re a strong enough swimmer to keep yourself afloat and as a rule of thumb that you are able to swim at least 1 width of a swimming pool unaided. During your first surf lesson you’ll never go above waist deep in the water, the big thing is (especially for kids) that it’s very likely that you’ll go underwater at some point in the lesson after wiping-out, so you need to be confident in the water and able to deal with that. If you’re in any doubt about you or your child’s swimming ability then get in touch and we’ll happily chat about it with you.
For our SUP activities you will be over deep water so need to be a competent swimmer, however we do have buoyancy aids available if you require.
Are there any age restrictions?
From 8 years old, kids can join our group surfing lessons, however for any under 16’s you’ll need a parent or guardian to come along for check-in to sign our indemnity forms. Any kids under 8 who want to surf may be able to do so with a parent/guardian in the water with them, however this is on a case-by-case basis so give us a shout beforehand. Our Private Family lessons for both Surf & SUP are great if you have any younger members who want to join in.
For SUP sessions any under 16’s need to have a parent/guardian accompany them on the tour. The reason for this is that due to the tide on the estuary we don’t generally have the option to cut the session short if someone wants to head home for whatever reason, meaning that once we set off that’s it for 2 hours so we want to make sure everyone feels comfortable.
We get asked all the time whether someone is too old for getting involved and the answer is always ‘NO’! The oldest student we’ve had so far was an 84 year old, he stood up on the a wave for the first time and he said it was a “life-changing experience”. Whatever your age you’ll absolutely love our activities.
What is SUP?
SUP is short for Stand-Up-Paddleboarding, imagine an oversized surfboard which you stand on and “row” yourself along with a paddle. The usual lessons & tours that we run are all on flat water on the stunning Gannel Estuary. It’s much more accessible than surfing for a lot of people as you don’t need to be hugely flexible or even balanced to get a feel for it. For those that want to push it then we do offer more advanced coaching, however if you just want to take it easy and enjoy the view then you’re welcome to do that too!
Is it safe?
In short… YES! We have an incredible safety record here at Big Green Surf School which we’re very proud of - all of our coaches have years of experience, are fully Beach Lifeguard trained as a minimum and receive extensive in-house training. Many of us also undertake additional training with the RNLI and act as Volunteer Community Responders. All of our activities are fully risk assessed, we have concise plans to deal with any incidents and extensive First-Aid & rescue equipment, all of which is available for you to view if you would like.
During the course of your lesson you'll be learning about how to stay safe in the ocean, we'll be teaching you about rips and other potential dangers. You'll find that once you have a good understanding of these natural processes they seem a lot less scary! You'll finish the lesson with a new found respect for the ocean, with the knowledge to help keep you and your family safe whilst in and around the water.
Whilst any water-based activity or extreme sport has it’s potential dangers, if you listen to your coach or guide and follow their instruction then it’s VERY unlikely that you’ll get yourself into any sort of difficulty. If you've got any specific concerns or something which you think could place you at risk then please get in touch and we’ll give you our honest advice.
I’ve already tried surfing, do I need a lesson?
Honestly, it’s totally up to you. We coach right up to competition level, there is ALWAYS more that you can learn that can increase your enjoyment in the water. Whether you’re surfing or paddle-boarding, it’s always fun and rewarding to feel like you’re improving and getting better at what you do. Our style of coaching is not to be pushy or to tell you where you should aim to be, but rather to see what YOU want to get out of your surfing or boarding and help to give you the tools and skills to get there.
I’m standing up every time on the whitewater but can’t improve, what can I do?
Sounds like you’re ready for our Outback Lessons. One of the biggest challenges you’ll ever face as a surfer is progressing from riding the whitewater to riding the green, unbroken waves outback. We reduce our group sizes even smaller for these lessons and your coach will be teaching you how to paddle out, read the waves, select the best one, catch it and then of course ride it! It’ll take most people 2-3 lessons to grasp the basics of this, but we’ll be with you all the way! We also have a couple of other beaches nearby that we might take you to, different styles of waves can make all the difference.
What’s a Cornish Surfari?
In short, it's the best day of surf exploration you can imagine! As soon as you can catch and ride your own waves, either in the whitewater or outback, then you can enjoy this amazing day-trip with us and experience the true surfer lifestyle. We’ll load up the BGSS van with boards and equipment and head out to search for the best waves in Cornwall. There are so many options there’s not enough space to list them all but you can rest assured your guide will use their expert knowledge of the coastline to find you the best waves for your ability.
We guarantee that you’ll surf at least twice in the day, but aside from surfing you’ll also see some inside secrets in this incredible county and learn a lot about wave forecasting and the elements that make each of these different surf-spots work in different conditions. CLICK HERE to get yourself booked in.
Can I use my own wetsuit/board?
Of course you can! If you’re going to be surfing that board in future then it makes sense that you learn the correct techniques that will work for you. We do ask that you bring your board or suit along for us to check beforehand though, we want to make sure it’s safe and suitable for you to use, but unless there’s a problem with it then of course you can.
What do I need to bring with me?
We provide all the equipment you’ll need in terms of wetsuit, boards, paddles etc. however you will need to have your own swimwear to wear under the suit (little tip boys; even though you might not think they’re as cool, speedos are much more comfy than board shorts underneath a wetsuit!). Unless you’re planning on drip-drying you’ll also need a towel, some sunscreen and if you’ve got softer feet you might want some flip-flops or something for wandering around the carpark. We’ll provide water for the session but feel free to bring some if you like, just don’t bring too much plastic, we don’t like it and neither does the beach!
If I use my own equipment can I get a discount?
Afraid not. We price all of our sessions as competitively as possible, we offer discounts for bigger groups or longer courses of lessons. We provide all of the equipment free of charge for you to use during the lesson so it doesn’t affect the price whether you choose to use it or not. As selfish as it seems, the BGSS coaches want to get paid for their job so unless you can persuade them to work for free then I’m afraid this isn’t something we can discount!