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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Surf Nation
Reading some of the reviews I fear some people have missed the point.
Having read Surf Nation twice I think it pretty accurately captures the good and the bad about surfing in Britain and Ireland.
It's not a story about scoring perfect waves on uncrowded beaches, it's about making the best of what's on offer.
It is well written, pretty well researched...
Published on 19 Oct 2007 by Peter Robinson

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3 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Unqualified voice
I share a similar opinion to another reviewer who was left feeling "cold" by this book. I have a reasonably extensive surf library and have surfed for 20 years and it is obvious from the outset that this author is not a voice of authority on his chosen subject. Arguably, nor is author Andy Martin, but he is at least convincing in his portrayal of the sport - Wade is...
Published on 6 Dec 2007 by James Bulpett


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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Surf Nation, 19 Oct 2007
By 
Peter Robinson (Braunton, England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Surf Nation: In Search of the Fast Lefts and Hollow Rights of Britain and Ireland (Paperback)
Reading some of the reviews I fear some people have missed the point.
Having read Surf Nation twice I think it pretty accurately captures the good and the bad about surfing in Britain and Ireland.
It's not a story about scoring perfect waves on uncrowded beaches, it's about making the best of what's on offer.
It is well written, pretty well researched (rarely are books containing 'facts' perfect) - and it's nice to see some of the people who DON'T earn a living from surfing (where did the previous reviewer get that idea from?) have their story told.
I'm stoked to have this on my bookshelf.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A broad, thoughtful and vivid picture of the UK and Ireland surf scene, 1 April 2008
This review is from: Surf Nation: In Search of the Fast Lefts and Hollow Rights of Britain and Ireland (Paperback)
As two fellow reviewers, D. Yarrow and James Bulpett, and Alex Wade himself have pointed out, this is not a book documenting an extensive Britain and Ireland surfari by an expert surfer who goes from punting air reverses off of perfect Norfolk wedges, to charging heavy Thurso East. Rather the author is a surfer of intermediate ability who has played to his strengths as a writer and journalist in writing a book which paints a broad, comprehensive, thoughtful and vivid picture of the UK and Ireland surf scene, by bringing the personal opinions, experiences and life stories of numerous British and Irish surfers (e.g. The Gill, Robyn Davies, Iain Battrick, Chris Noble, Duncan Scott, John Adams etc), as well as his own, in order to illustrate and explore the many interesting and diverse aspects of surfing in Britain and Ireland.

Sure the standard inspiring surf mag fodder of break descriptions, surf comps and epic sessions is included and more than done justice too, thanks to Wades ability as a journalist...

`Love Hodel was impressed. `Man, when it's on that wave is pretty damn perfect,' said the 34-year-old Hawaiian, his blue eyes lost in awe. `Maybe not as powerful as Hawaiian surf but good, really good.' Thanks to the O'Neill Highland open, Hodel was undergoing his first experience of the surf at Thurso East' (p309)

...and refreshingly the accounts of surfing in the UK and Ireland are not isolated to the voices of the minority of expert surfers;

`Before I knew it a hesitant turn of the board had become a committed paddle for glorious green-blue right-hander...I felt the surge of raw oceanic power, knew I had the wave and leapt to my feet. The drop seemed unfeasibly steep but I made it, bending my knees and bottom turning to race back up the face...And then I pulled off a move I'd never even attempted before...a floater...The sensation was one of delicious weightlessness'- Alex Wade recounting a memorable session at 6ft Watergate

However what particularly sets Surf Nation apart from other books on surfing is Wade's commitment to giving as broad a view of his subject matter as he can, by consistently moving off the well beaten surf-writing track in all of the books twenty-two chapters. For example he references quite a few non-surf films, such as 1973s Badlands to shed alternative light on particular surfing areas (In Badlands case, St Agnes and it surrounding coastline), explores how surfing has been used to improve the lives of socially disadvantaged children and also illustrates how particularly aggressive surf travellers/tourists in Ireland share much in common with the colonising actions of the Spanish Conquestadors and Britains infamous East India Trading Company;

`I hate to say it but the worst things is the ...overseas surfers. We Irish are a mellow crew and you won't find any localism from us...But what's starting to get to me is paddling out at Easkey, or another wave I've been surfing all my life, and being given the eye by some guy from Cornwall' -Sligo local Mark Walton (p255)

Indeed such is the breadth of the topics covered here that it is clear that Wades main challenge was to bring them together into a cohesive whole with a logical order. He attempts to solve this problem by basing each chapter in a particular surfing area (though why is mid and north Wales, or the BUSA surf nationals not included?), by having a number of key people and related storylines regularly popping up throughout (A lot of people he interviews have met Zed Layson, but will he surf Thurso East? Everyone loves the elusive Robyn Davies and The Gill, but will Wade ever track these two elusive characters down? ) and by having a somewhat forced summary forming part of the final chapter.

Despite these three mechanisms, Surf Nation at points does feel like it consists of fragments of writing (albeit fragments of substantial, meaty, high quality) all crammed together into one volume. But due to its very ambitious and broad aim of `finding out about the characters who make up surfing on our shores and the great waves they surf'' (Wade on his blog- timesonline.co.uk/surfnation), this fragmentation was almost certainly inevitable and is actually appropriately reflective of Britain and Irelands fragmented surf communities and organizations.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Framing the British Surfer's Experience, 30 Aug 2007
By 
J. Boucher "chrubble" (Manchester, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Surf Nation: In Search of the Fast Lefts and Hollow Rights of Britain and Ireland (Paperback)
I have just finished this book and have to say, as a novice surfer, I found it to be a great snapshot, not only of the current state of British surfing and charters on the scene, but also the history of the sport around the UK. I thought that Alex Wade gave an insightful introduction to the frustrations and potential for UK surfers - And from my (fledgling) experience I can completely relate to the relentless and addictive optimism with which surfers in the UK will watch the weather and water just for the opportunity to experience even the briefest of quality rides. Backed up by Nelson and Taylor's 'Surfing UK', I've also used this book to give myself target areas to visit, not just to tackle as my surfing improves but also for the opportunity to witness some great waves and waves riders... if I'm lucky enough to be there on the right day!
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5.0 out of 5 stars SURF NATION - ALEX WADE, 9 Nov 2009
this book is awesome - couldn't put it down. i love the fact Wade focuses on all of Britain - not just stereotypical Cornwall.
He seems like a well educated character and gives us a great insight into British surfing.
well worth a read. good for non surfers too but i wouldnt really know because i do surf.
anyway worth the investment, see you in the lineup :)
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5.0 out of 5 stars A Surfing book for Surfers, 10 April 2008
By 
James Scott - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Surf Nation: In Search of the Fast Lefts and Hollow Rights of Britain and Ireland (Paperback)
It's a great book; it definitely shows what the English coast has to offer and how the breaks play a part in shaping not only our boards but the people that ride them. Surfing can play an influential role in culture and creates some fascinating personalities its great to hear about the Kelly Slater's and Nat Young's of the British surfing scene.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Stop whining!, 18 Dec 2007
By 
W. Alderson "Alf Alderson" (Pembrokeshire) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Surf Nation: In Search of the Fast Lefts and Hollow Rights of Britain and Ireland (Paperback)
Travelling from his home breaks of Cornwall to spots as wild as the west of Ireland and the Orkneys, as unexpected as East Anglia and as off-the-wall as South Wales, Alex Wade encounters Britain's `real' surfers and finds out what drives them to forge a life linked intimately to swell, tide and season.

"It's the most blissful feeling...in the world," claims Irish big wave surfer John McCarthy - which is kind of how you'd expect a surfer to respond. But Wade gets beyond the predictable sound bite to uncover the ethos and raison d'etre behind this surf addiction, thanks to a disarming knack of getting those with whom he discusses this esoteric sport to open up and let us see the addict within.

That's not to say all is rosy in the surf lineup. Plenty of surfers express their alarm at the sellout that's such a feature of modern UK surfing. But underneath all this, time and again Wade uncovers the genuine love of wave riding that drives `real' surfers to keep answering the call of the sea.

There's a thread connecting all these people which runs throughout the book - all they want to do is ride waves, irrespective of how good, cold or remote they may be, and as a surfer it left me feeling enthused to get out into the waves again. And for non-surfers, Surf Nation is that rare beast, a book that really does give you some idea of the whys and wherefores of paddling out into British waves.

Ignore some of the whining reviews you'll see here - I've been surfing UK waves for almost 30 years and this book comes as near as anything to uncovering what a real Surf Nation the UK is.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Surfing Development UK, 18 Dec 2007
By 
S. J. Jayham "SurfGSD.com" (on the beach, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Surf Nation: In Search of the Fast Lefts and Hollow Rights of Britain and Ireland (Paperback)
I read this book in 3 hours whilst waiting to get into a music festival. During down time I returned and made notes on numerous references to British surfing and the future of our surf nation.

I could not believe what I was reading at first, someone had actually written what surfers and those involved in the Industry actually thought was good and bad in many areas. I was more interested in the areas relating to surfing tourism, surf schools and surf contests.

I contacted the BSA (British Surfing Association) and gave a presentation at their annual surf schools and surf coaching seminar based on 'surf nation' bringing up many of the points raised in the book.

This book is what the surfing establishment has needed to help it focus on the wrong and right way of delivering a 'surfing for everyone' policy through a strategic sports development plan. As currently it is does not exist, but, one could argue that is British sport in general.

Well done Alex, I hope you can bring yourself to go big and write another one in the near future.
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3 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Unqualified voice, 6 Dec 2007
By 
James Bulpett (Barnstaple) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Surf Nation: In Search of the Fast Lefts and Hollow Rights of Britain and Ireland (Paperback)
I share a similar opinion to another reviewer who was left feeling "cold" by this book. I have a reasonably extensive surf library and have surfed for 20 years and it is obvious from the outset that this author is not a voice of authority on his chosen subject. Arguably, nor is author Andy Martin, but he is at least convincing in his portrayal of the sport - Wade is not.
There is nothing more frustrating to any person dedicated to an activity, than someone latching on to that thing which they care deeply about and not even getting the facts right (Joel Fitzgerald a local Croyde surfer! Not in my lifetime, Narrabeen perhaps, but not North Devon), it's an instant irritant and I instantly lost faith in the author and his book.
What was also irritating was his obvious desire to claim a "surf lit" title by adding in his movie reviews at any slight and vague opportunity. I'm not averse to any new slant on surfing, but frankly it smacked of desperation and left me wondering what he really wanted to be writing about.
On a more positive note, the portrayals of the personalities he included in the book were insightful and honest, and he clearly had good intentions in the writing of this book. It's not a poor book, but to me it's more surf guide than surf lit.
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5 of 8 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Didn't Do It For Me..., 18 Oct 2007
By 
W. Dawes (UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Surf Nation: In Search of the Fast Lefts and Hollow Rights of Britain and Ireland (Paperback)
I wanted to like this book, but just found it extremely tedious, sadly. It really didn't work for me, to the point whereby I barely had the will to finish it. It just became a boring blur of characters - way too much information, all in all. If ever a book really needed a damn good editing, and shaking out of extraneous information and needless repetition, that was it. The author has basically tried to get every single little fact about surfing into one book, but just doesn't quite have the touch to make it interesting enough to make you care.

He's clearly been inspired by the likes of Andy Martin et al, and wanted to write something clever. But his literary references are really shoe-horned in and just feel uncomfortable. If you've read all the great surfing books out there and are desparate for something else to read then OK. But if you haven't, then don't start here. Surfing literature can be so much better than this! Go read In Search of Captain Zero, or any of Andy Martin's books...
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4.0 out of 5 stars Comprehensive guide of places & faces of uk surfing, 31 July 2014
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An interesting detailed guide through people & places with historic reference.
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