Some days you set your alarm for sparrows, knowing that the waves are going to be perfect. You wake up in the dark for the yawn patrol and pack your boards, a not-so-subtle buzz filling the air. The hype grows as you make the drive to the spot. Standing in the carpark, coffee in hand, the sun starts to slowly rise over the horizon, revealing exactly what you’d been hoping for. Perfect lines stacked to the horizon, glassy conditions and a crisp offshore sending feathered spray to the sky. They don’t happen often, which makes rare occasions like this that much more special.
Here’s Cade Sharp on one of those very days.
A Cornish Cookout
When one thinks England, they think many things. Tradition, history, British culture. And rain.
If you’re talking to an Australian, you might expect a more raucous response; shit weather, shit accents, whinging poms.
I have been fortunate enough to spend a lot of my time on postcard-perfect beaches in Australia. Growing up on the Sunshine Coast of Queensland, the beach was a massive part of my life – BBQ’s, cricket, footy, swimming, surfing. For me, I grew to especially love photographing the many changing faces of the ocean – both above and below.
When I tell people this, their first response is always predictable: why would you leave?
A love of exploring the coastline opened my mind to what’s out there, and eventually I was driven to go further, beyond the comfort of the Australian east coast.
Naturally, when I decided to leave home to travel, the ocean was still a high priority and I’ve been lucky enough to see some of the best waves in Europe firing on all cylinders over the past two years. Living in London however, dampens the flame a bit. It’s a big city and the furthest thing from the natural beauty I was accustomed to. The last thing an Australian thinks when they think England is beautiful beaches. Not much in terms of surfing or the lifestyle I’d lived up until this point at all to be honest.
But there was always that one name ringing in the back of my mind, one that I had been intrigued by after seeing photos in surf magazines for years.
I met a bloke in a pub once who was more like me then anyone I’d met since I left home. His name was Dave, we chewed the fat and after a while decided that a road trip was in order. I needed to experience what his country had to offer, he said.
Finally this month I was able to see this beautiful part of the world, and it exceeded all my expectations.
There I was on the coach to Newquay. After 8 painstakingly slow hours of crawling through tiny villages at a snails pace, I’d arrived. I was expecting to see Dave waiting at the stop with a cold one and a grin ready for me, but he was nowhere to be seen. I found a pub and helped myself to the coldy. An hour later I see him walk through the doors.
“Far out I hate coming here,” he puffs.
“Haven’t had a smooth drive here from Bournemouth in my life. Everyone else can do it in 4 and it takes me 7 every time. Shithole.”
I laughed hard, it wasn’t exactly what I was expecting to hear to kick off the trip. But we all know what a shit car journey will do to even the most laid back among us.
After our respective cross country missions we decided to take it slow that night, and enjoyed an amazing sunset over Newquay with a local brew in hand. The next day was the start of our journey, so we hit the sack early in order to be ready to go first thing in the morning.
We woke to a light offshore and perfect sunny skies, you could taste the salt in the air. With the van loaded up we set sail, our noses pointing South. Our first destination was a campsite that Dave had visited as a boy, with hazy summer memories flooding from his mind to his mouth like an open dam. It was both of our childhood’s he was reminiscing on, and together the excitement grew for what the week would have in store.
Upon our arrival we knocked up our home for the next few days, which consisted of Dave’s van and my tent flanking a communal shelter.
I hadn’t surfed since I was in Spain 10 months ago, so high on my list of priorities was to get salty. A quick walk over the dunes and we were greeted with a view we both longed for – clean lines, albeit small, with crystal clear water and no crowd. A howl of excitement escaped me and I was on my way back to the camp to get the wetsuit on, Dave not far behind.
A few hours and dozens of waves later we were sitting at the camp refreshed, and you already know it was beer time. With the backing of a summer soundtrack, Dave had his next surprise ready to be unveiled. Out of the back of his van he hauled what could only be described as a shrunken alien space ship, a tripod of stainless steel supporting a silver dome. Next came the gas bottle, and once hooked up I realised what I was looking at. The mythical camping pizza oven he’d told me of, the prized final piece of his camping set up.
With the oven firing we ate like kings throughout the course of the week, starting with pizza and graduating on to anything from steak and eggs to sautéed veggies and crispy sweet potato fries. Every other camper who passed us had sore necks by the end of the week, jealousy burning in their eyes. Even if we couldn’t hear it, we knew it was the talk of our tented community every night and we were loving it.
Thanks to the legendary work of my tour guide and companion, over the course of the next week on the road I was able to see so much beauty. We developed a loose routine that started with jumping straight in the van each morning and hitting the open road. We explored just about every cove and cave up and down the coast, hiked to Land’s End, found a seal colony, and skated down some beautiful coastal roads. Then, we would surf for as long as our arms would let us before retiring to the deck chair and the esky to watch the sun fade to stars over our campsite, a sight that I hadn’t enjoyed since Australia.
It was a taste of home and a real refresher. We were blessed with amazing weather and company to boot. A definite trip to remember and I was extra stoked to come away with some images that will always serve as a reminder to my time on the English surf coast.
Until next time.
The Perfect Disguise
The idea for ‘The Perfect Disguise’ grew mainly from spending extended periods of time outside, enjoying one of nature’s most amazing, diverse and ever changing elements – the ocean. As a result of years worth of time in and around the ocean, I feel that I have developed a very real connection with the water and the people who I share it with.
I have always been enticed by the song ‘A Horse With No Name’ by America, and particularly the following lyrics:
These words are what motivated me to take a different approach for this project – taking my photography under the surface, in an attempt to take a peek behind the so called ‘perfect disguise’.
One of my favourite things to do in the ocean happens to be something that not many people get to experience – watching large waves breaking over sand or reef, viewed from underneath the water.
One person that instantly inspired me was a man named Mark Tipple, and specifically, his line of work titled ‘The Underwater Project’. His photos helped me to decide to how to document my images – I was seeking out candid moments in which most cases the subject was unaware they were being photographed.
The collection has images featuring nothing but the ocean’s pure power and turbulence, as well as images with fish and people in the mix. I decided to include people in some of the frames both for scale and to recognise the relationship and connection that fellow ocean lovers share with the deep.