SURFING THE BORE
THE SURFERS GUIDE
THE ABOVE VIDEO IS A TYPICAL EXAMPLE OF LIFE ON THE BORE AS A SURFER OR KAYAKER
When you watch the video you will see experienced Bore Surfer Chris Prichard handle several life threatening situations. The bore can become very crowded, very quickly. Kayaks can become hard to handle, unexpected surfers and suddenly appear and river debris and trees can be waiting for you. If you lose control or get your leash tangled you can easily injure yourself or someone else which could be life threatening. You will see how Chris manages to move a surfboard from behind him single handed, deal with a Kayaker that is struggling to keep their line and dodge trees jutting out from the river bank. The main thing is he kept calm and in control, a great example to us all.
One of the main attractions of the Severn Bore is being able to ride in in one form or another. Being the longest wave in the UK many people travel far and wide to attempt river surfing or kayaking. Although this sounds like a great experience and challenge there are many dangers to river surfing that need to be taken in to account.
We would like to make it clear that we do not advise that anyone enters the river during the tidal bore or at any other time. We fully support SARA, The Harbour trustees and The Environment Agency to prevent the risk of injury and death on the river Severn, the best way to do this is to advise people not to get in!
Having said this many people continue to turn up and surf or kayak the tidal bore. Every day during peak bore tides people ask our advice on where best to surf or tips on what board to use etc. Before going into how we deliver this information let’s take a look at a few important points that we ask you to consider.
At the heart of the Severn bore is a strong community of local land owners, spectators, kayakers and surfers. Many have surfed and watched the Severn Bore for decades and they carry a wealth of information.
Their experience on the river is not something that can be passed on overnight, however respect for what they do and taking their advice can pay dividends.
Having this strong community helps improve safety on the River Severn and many of the local surfers and kayakers have been involved in rescuing people that have found themselves in trouble one way or another.
River surfing is a lot different than what you would be used to in the sea. Strong under currents are caused by the tidal bore changing the flow of the river as it heads up stream. Following the face of the wave comes a turmoil of secondary waves and strong currents that carry all sorts of river debris from car tires and large branches to livestock that has been swept from the banks.
In certain areas along the river hidden objects under the surface of the water can be extremely dangerous from rocks to steel works, knowing the river is key.
Entry and exit to the river has to be carefully thought out as there a few places that are easily accessible and that are not on private land.
The other risk is overcrowding, as there is only one wave you will find that there is little space to manoeuvre when you are sharing the wave with other surfers and kayakers.
No lifeguards! Unlike popular beeches the river Severn is not patrolled by lifeguards and you can often find yourself isolated with no one to assist.
These are just a few of the common risks that you will get on every bore. A strong strategy needs to be put into place before entering the river. Experience is essential, many surfers examine the river and talk to locals over a period of time before even entering.
Having this strong local community that supports the Severn Bore is founded on respect for locals.
At peak bore tides hundreds of people turn up to watch the Severn Bore, an underlying code of respect is the backbone of bore watchers and riders. Remember local people need to go about their daily business, access to their property is paramount, park sensibly.
Understand that some surfers have had decades of experience, take their advice it’s usually for your safety.
Support local businesses that usually provide facilities free of charge. Make sure you visit local pubs and shops and help the local community thrive during bore times, making it a positive not a negative for business owners.
It is a known fact that there are many areas to surf on the river Severn, however not every secion is mentioned on this website and others.
The reason why these spots are not advertised are due to:
Limited access and no parking
Not safe for novice river surfers
Narrow sections that cannot sustain large crowds
Dangerous banks not suitable for spectators
There are many places to enjoy the bore, please keep clear of spots that are not advertised. Increased usage of these areas will inevitable end in injury, death or authorities closing river access.