For the next in our Coastal Heroes series we speak with Nigel Jones from Adventures Wales about his time as a champion wave skier and the perfect time of year to get surfing in Bridgend County.
How did Adventures Wales come into being?
During the miners' strike I was making surfboards to get by - but it wasn't quite as glamorous as it might sound! It was a hand-to-mouth existence and I got fed up of spraying and sand boarding in a small dusty room so decided to go down a route which would let me continue my passion outdoors.
What sort of activities can people book with Activities Wales?
We offer all sorts of water based activities at the centre, from coasteering and cannoning to surfing, surf kayaking and body boarding. We've even got these really fun giant stand up paddle boards too which fit around 10 people on top - they're a great laugh.
Is there anything new on the horizon for Adventures Wales?
We're always looking to add something new to the business. We've now got things like archery, climbing, paintballing and laser tag and there are a few more ideas in the pipeline - but as it's still in the planning stages for next year so I'll have to keep those a secret for now.
You're a former Welsh champion wave skier. Could you tell us a bit about the sport and how you got into it?
As a result of the miners' strike there were very few jobs in Wales when I finished college. I ended up surfing a lot and soon started competing in wave skiing, which I think kept me sane on a personal level. It's a bit like a kayak but you sit on it rather than in it. I won the Welsh National Championships for wave skiing a couple of times. I was never going to be a big rugby player or footballer so it was great to find a fringe sport I could take to a national level.
Do you think surf skiing and surf kayaking are getting bigger in wales or would you like to see more of it?
Surfing is by far the most popular of those in Wales but surf kayaking has also become quite popular in Wales. It's a great alternative to surfing for those wanting to get on the water without having to learn to pop up on a board.
What do you love about Bridgend County?
My favourite thing about where we live its the accessibility of it all. There are so many surf beaches in the UK which are far from the nearest town, but wherever you live in Porthcawl you can access the town and the beach. It's ideal!
What do you do in your spare time?
As soon as I finish work I'll get out on the surf with my son, who's 12. He's just started competing and it's great to be able to spend some quality time together on the waves. It's finding those snap shots of time when all the elements are in place. We're so lucky when we can grab a couple of hours on the water - it's not really viable for those who live further afield. Having the beach on your doorstep makes it so accessible.
If you could give some inspirational words of wisdom to people in South Wales wanting to get involved in watersports what would they be?
My advice to anyone hoping to get on the water would be to persevere and not get too down hearted when you're not achieving what you thought you should. In my mind water sports are about having fun and getting some sunshine and exercise in the process. Don't worry about what other people might think and give it a go. Always head to a lifeguarded beach and ask the lifeguards for some advice before getting on the water.
Lastly, if people want to join Adventures Wales whens the best time to do so/ season wise/can they get on the water now?
The season will be in full swing between now and October. The water's already warming up so it's a perfect time to get involved.