Severn Bore Report January 2009 - Surfing the Tidal Bore Part 1

Thursday, Jan 15th

Good bores during the solstice tides of December promised a similar run of bores for January. The month or so dry spell and deep cold changed things somewhat, resulting in low river levels throughout the Severn catchment and a corresponding diminishing effect on the bores this month.
Monday am the 12th Donny planning a solo ride and Tom Wright some photo shooting, abandoned both as the dawn was late in coming and the bore was non existent. The fiersome weather and gales overnight should have produced some surge but the wind was still howling at 7.30am and it was still pretty dark. With the lack of fresh the tide just pushed by without any head wave.
Tuesday dawning clear with only a slight breeze from the west, saw 8 surfers accounted for, 5 at Boats, 2 at Newnham and 1 at Broadoak. Only 1 got a short ride at Boats, the 2 at Newnham were wrongly positioned and Donny Wright got a fun ride on the tiniest of waves past the Hart. For a 9.6 metre tide this was pretty disappointing.
Donny and Buff Hammersley decide to give it another go on Wednesday by which time the river had risen significantly after Sunday night and Monday's rain. A cold frosty clear morning on the hill top over Newnham was turned on its head in the valley below, with thick fog and sheet ice in the car park Severnside. This really was'nt attractive. However the river was up with a lot more fresh discharging and despite the 30 yard visibility Donny got an excellent ride from somewhere below the fishing hut to well above the White Hart on a wave to waist high in the spookiest of conditions. " I hooted a few times so Katie would know where I was when I thought I was going by the pub, but she thought it was coming from way downstream, so I don't know what was going on. I think I picked the wave up somewhere towards the bottom end of the channel, the ride was a good quarter mile or so." Buff Hammersley and Stu got a ride from Subs which died on him before the Boats connection and others failed to catch a ride. Buff went on up to get an excellent ride at Epney, snaking Stu in the process!
Getting out of the river for Donny provides a salutory warning for anyone not familiar with the river's behaviour and local bankside features, when thick fog blankets the river.
"I was paddling back for several minutes when I had to negotiate a big willow tree that floated out of the foggy gloom. I could'nt get past the front of it in time so paddled around its back and about half a minute later put my feet down to find I was in less than a foot of water. The fog had cleared slightly and I could see this great tree was back a long way downstream of me. This was a bit freaky to say the least. I waded to the deeper water and after a short while was paddling through the trough waves with the current on my left and I knew then I was paddling the right line. Eventually I could see the bank and after what seemed a long hard paddle through the building tide race I made the Shore. I was probably trapped in one of the huge back eddies that form and was heading back to the sandbank. If I did'nt know the river I could have panicked pretty quick. It can be a fool's game sometimes."
Not the best set of tides but nonetheless some fun stoke and radical experiences and once again it goes to prove that a good bore is the result of many factors all coming together at the right time.

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