Xcel crew journeys north on a Scottish roadtrip
A storm was brewing out in the Atlantic, a sprawling blob of red and orange tracking northeast and skirting below Iceland. This blob was set to be followed a few days later by a darker, more concentrated blob (maroons, purples), and then an even darker one (black ringed with grey). Even to the pressure-chart-illiterate, the bruised tones indicated something large and menacing afoot.
Reubyn Ash (noted Cornish aerialist) was up for it, as were his Xcel teammates Patrick Langdon-Dark (keen Welshman) and Kieron Smith (obligatory grom). Sam Breeze had agreed to film and edit whatever happened next and also to pilot the Spaceship, as we would lovingly refer to the 7-man motorhome provided by Spaceships Rentals. He would drive from his home in Penzance up to Plymouth, where the Spaceship was temporarily stationed, and from there to the tip of the Highlands: basically Land’s End to John o’Groats.
Maybe it was the Spaceship effect. There was also the scarcity of light, about six hours of it in which to surf, eat, thaw out, and surf again. It was dark shortly after 3 in the afternoon, the days so short it felt like they barely happened. We fell asleep watching the 6 o’clock news.
And then there were the waves. The big scary blobs delivered. Reubyn spent so much time inside the Bagpipe vortex he almost got stuck in there, disappearing through a chink in the space-time continuum.
There are less pleasant places to be stuck at Bagpipe, the fearsome left-hander that Reubyn, Pat, Kieron, and local hero Mark Boyd take on in the above edit. Ben Skinner tells of how he once got sucked into a sinkhole in the reef after a wipeout. Several more waves broke as he struggled to claw his way to the surface, unsure which way the surface even was, and when he finally emerged he was ghostly white and puking. Yep, it’s full-on out there!