As we reported earlier today, the Cribbar, an unbelievable reef break that very rarely works provided some massive conditions down in Newquay, England this weekend. Now we can get the full story behind this epic day from Steve Thorp and Jan Sleigh, plus images of these two and Ross Williams from JnP events photography.

Check out the Ross Williams gallery below...

Head here for Thorpy's view and gallery and read more from Jan Sleigh here (or scroll through the numbers below).

[part title="Steve Thorp"]

At the risk of demystifying the Legend that is the Cribbar...

The Launch

The launch is pretty funny! You walk down the old lifeboat launch in the lee of the headland, it's actually about the most dangerous thing to do, as it's old slime coloured rusty steel beams you have to balance on (with your kit), sloping down at 30 degree, and one slip could be pretty horribly painful. Then you wobble round the back of the headland and out into the wind and waves. From a windsurfing point of view it couldn't be easier, so long as your gymnastics/beam routine is up to it.

Or can can risk a launch out from Little Fistral, which is very doable in the rip by the rocks, but could go horrendously wrong.

There's a tradition amongst surfers of always talking these things up, calling it the Widow Maker...tales of massive hold downs, dangerous boils, savage rocks... but I'm not that good at BS.


It seems that 10ft @15 is enough with low tide and southerly wind. It seems to blow SSW every time which is annoying, SSE would be much better for wave quality. More big swell coming, pretty much everyday from now til Christmas, but more pesky westerlies mostly.

Equipment Used

5m Hot Sails Maui Firelight, 85 Moo Holy Cow, k4fins rockets.

I totally trust the Firelights, they have a wide range and can handle a beating, especially with my trusty 7 year old bombproof mast in them! I wanted a bit of float so took my biggest Moo (I have a bigger one on the way after the Cornwall event), it's not really designed for double mast high with choppy faces, but performed excellently - holding in really well and speed when I needed it. Most importantly I had the rocket fins in, quad 14.5 and 8 -a gain lots of hold, control and speed. You definitely need a lot of speed when it's that big, just to get on the waves and get down them.


I'm not sure how everyone got on, but I'm pretty sure we were all on crash avoidance at all costs! I did have some sketchy moments being the wrong side of the peak, a couple of clew grabbers and some last minute 'eject out the back's, but I was definitely not in the mood for a pasting, so luckily avoided that.

How Hard Is It Really?

There's a tradition amongst surfers of always talking these things up, calling it the Widow Maker.. tales of massive hold downs, dangerous boils, savage rocks.. but I'm not that good at BS.

It's a lot easier than a big day on a beach break, if you're careful. And I think that's the key, be aware of the dangers, sail within your limits, and it's actually fairly safe and not as hard work as you might think. I don't really see it as a big deal, or 'going out to surf massive waves at THE CRIBBAR', I just quite enjoy it out there, it's a nice place to sail and hang out.

The Full Story...

"I had a feeling it would be on on Saturday morning, not an epic forecast, but big enough for it to break. Not a spring low, and not quite a nice cross off southerly wind, but it had potential. Come Friday night I was feeling pretty ropey with a chesty cough, so decided to give the 3.30am alarm a miss, and just rock up for an afternoon Gwithian session (just the 5.30 alarm then!)

When I arrived at Gwithian car park there was already talk of the Cribbar; that Ross Williams and Neal Gent had been out, with JC on the camera and Matthew Burridge stuck a picture under my nose of Rosco on a double master! Have to admit I was pretty surprised it had been that good.

I had a great sail at Mexicos but definitely felt pretty wiped out and low on the lung capacity, so I made the right call to skip the Cribbar!

I watched Kelly Slater get robbed of his 12th world title on Saturday night and checked the forecast for Sunday. It wasn't looking massive, but the early wind was offshore so the surfing at Fistral would be decent if nothing else, so decided to go anyway. First thing in the morning the 7 stones buoy was again showing 15ft of ground swell (peaked at 20 last light Sat) so I knew it would be big enough again. I arrived to find clean swell and an offshore SSE wind, but the tide a little too high still. Still thought maybe I'd be surfing, but then the wind started to fill in. Soon the texts started to come and quite a few would be out for it.. Ross and Neal again, plus Pasty (Lee Harvey), Jan Sleigh and eventually Ian Black. As they arrived I headed out. By the time I got out the back the wind had already swung a more onshore SSW, blowing straight off the other headland (Pentire) - bit of a bummer as you really need the offshore to keep the faces cleaner and hold the lips up a little longer.

It was really good fun though, some great drops to be had and some sections on offer for the brave!

Surprised it turned out so big both days on a 15ft forecast, looking forward to the next bigger swell!"

[part title="Jan Sleigh"]

Jan Sleigh

In all honesty I was pretty careful and stayed on the shoulder.

It was my first time windsurfing The Cribbar - I have SUPed a smaller day and also been towed in - but I have been worked so I know what that is like - and I didn't fancy a long swim in December.

Jan Sleigh. Image credit

Thorpy and Ross took it much deeper and were killing it. So were Neal and Lee on their kites. I got one small ok wave and one real big one that Neal called me into, it's difficult to call the size when you are travelling so fast and trying to get to the bottom and make a turn. The waves had a lot of chop on them and on a couple of waves it felt like I was bouncing down stairs, which was not helped by me taking my bigger board! The size was definitely a mistake for the wave but helped me get home safe. All in all it was pretty epic and I am still buzzing!


I was on my 2014 Naish Wave 95 with a 2014 Naish Force R1.

The Wind

The wind was pretty solid, and a bit gusty, but I was on the perfect size sail.

There are a lot of things that have to happen at once to make it sailable. It needs a big swell with a big period for it to break - the tide has to be right as well - and the wind needs to be side or side off at the right angle - the prevailing wind is too onshore most of the time.


The launch was relatively easy. Jump in off the old lifeboat slip way swim out to the wind line. Then make a wobbly, gusty, non planing line out to sea past the headland to clean wind, and hope you have the right size sail.


I think Thorpy might have taken a couple of wipe outs - but I didn't see them. I've had a good kicking there before on my SUP and tow in as well, but both times were with much smaller waves.


It's not exactly "safe" to sail ... but I played safe. If something went wrong you are pretty much on your own. There was no stress going out. It's December and cold - no one is around!

[part title="The initlal news piece..."]

The Cribbar in Newquay, this weekend, delivered some of the biggest UK wavesailing conditions seen in a very, very long time.

This reef break only works in very special conditions, but when it goes off, it goes off big time. UK riders including Ross Williams, Steve Thorp and Jan Sleigh took on the might of this massive wave, and as you can see from the first couple of images - it was a sight to behold.

More photos and the full story coming, very soon.

Ross Williams. Image credit JnP events photography.
Steve Thorp. Image credit JnP events photography.