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The Last Day of Summer at Benone

Posted on October 26, 2012 @ 2:24 PM in Beaches

When we talk about summer we imagine beaches, sun, water, laughter, BBQ’s, ice-cream and so on. The list is endless and to some of us this is the best time of the year. While flicking through my diary the other day I saw a small inscription beside October 28th which said “Last Day of British Summer”. Surely this must be wrong? But when you think about it we have had some nice weather over the past few weeks which could make you think it is summer. But in Northern Ireland it seems that people can’t stop complaining about the weather and when I mention the word summer the most popular response is “What Summer???”

Well from owning a surf school and being on the beach for 12 hours a day I can safely say that there has been a summer and it was glorious. I think in Northern Ireland we should take summer as a time of long days, moderate temperature and a lot to do. We really aren’t close enough to the equator to be depending on sun every day to make our past times enjoyable. As I sit and write this I try and figure out why people complain about the weather so much. My conclusion is that when you look outside from a warm sheltered house it can sometimes look quite miserable, especially if it is raining. But what I find is that if you spend the majority of your day outside, the rain really doesn’t affect you, maybe that’s because I’m in a wetsuit but usually that rain just passes over and you end up with a few hours of lovely weather.

But it also comes down to the individual. I see people every day that come down and use the beach for walking or swimming no matter what the weather is and then there are people who only come down when the sun shines. The important thing is that they are out and about and enjoying a stretch of beach which is beautiful and free to use.

At Long Line Surf School we tried to encourage a beach lifestyle the minute we opened. The best way we found how to encourage this was mainly through the children as they don’t care as much about the weather.  For the kids there were school trips down to the beach to come surfing which was amazing. To see all those children excited to be given the freedom to just run into the water and to experience it all for themselves. During the school term we also had our own Board Riders Club which consisted of 3 primary schools from Limavady as well as one secondary school. This small bunch of keen surfers came down after school once a week and had a great time while progressing their skills of surfing. Once the Summer Holidays had begun we started our KIDS BIG DAY OUT programme which occurred every Friday from 10am -5:30pm. This really showed off the outdoor lifestyle with the kids being outdoors the entire time with surfing in the morning, lunch in the picnic area even with torrential rain and then beach games followed with a swim in the sea to finish. This became a very popular day at Benone with Kids coming back every week. 

As well as big days out and normal surf lessons we also ran a number of events to get people to come down and experience Benone Beach in a different way. On the 9th June we ran Irelands first Surfing Disabled Festival for young people aged 8-25 with disabilities. This was a great day for all as usually you find that it would be the siblings of the disabled people who would be going and trying these great outdoor sports and so we created the event in order to get everyone involved and with a team of lifeguards and surf instructors we made this day a complete success and a date that will be kept in the diary for next year.

In June we also ran the ‘North Coast Annual Waterman Championships’ which consisted of lifeguards, swimmers and members of Triathlon clubs coming down to enter in an endurance event of run, swim, paddle and run. Seeing a lot of adults having a go at this who may have never considered entering anything like this before was great and especially as you finish the trial with your friends and family cheering you on.

As July set in, the campsites filled up, the lifeguards started duty, everyone was in full swing and Long Line Surf School became very busy and over the two months to follow we met some great people, made some new friends and even squeezed in a few BBQ’s in between. That is what summer is about, long days with good surf, warm waters and friends learning new skills and giving anything a go. Talking about giving anything a go we were given the most amazing opportunity to run a Blind Surf Session during the summer with a number of members from the guide dogs for the Blind NI. By using our custom made surfboards for people with disabilities we were able to get people with visual impairments on surfboards and instructors on the back of the board in order to help steer the board and keep it balanced. It turned out to be one of the best days of my career as a Surf instructor and something which I found very rewarding. We’ve even got the local surfing community to raise money for the charity in early September at the special surf contest which also consisted of a blind category where the competitors were given blacked out goggles to try and surf with in order to create awareness on how difficult and sometimes intimidating it can be.  

Now that the Summer on Benone Beach is over, the crowds are starting to leave and the local people still walk the beaches I can now look back and really appreciate this SUMMER no matter what the weather was like. The beach is there for communities and friends to come together and enjoy nature whether it is having a BBQ, surfing, swimming or just grabbing an ice-cream and sitting in your car watching the beach lifestyle unwrap.

At Long Line Surf School we find that Benone is there to be enjoyed all year round as well as the other beaches on the North Coast and we are very happy to be part of it. Keep an eye out next year for all the events you can become part of.

For more information on Long Line Surf School and what they offer at Benone Beach please visit their profile on OutdoorNI.com.

Dan Lavery
Dan Lavery  Owner & Instructor at Long Line Surf School

Dan is the founder and owner of Long Line Surf School and was previously Junior Irish Longboard Champion. He is young but very knowledgeable in the sport and has been a surf coach for many years now as well as being a beach lifeguard on the North Coast for 3 years.

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