British Longboard Union Porthcawl Longboard Classic 2016 at Rest Bay presented by Porthcawl Surf School in association with Surfing Great Britain & The Welsh Surfing Federation.
Competitors travelled from Jersey, Cornwall, Devon and the North East for the inaugural BLU event held on the stunning South Wales coast at Rest Bay in Porthcawl, Wales.
This was the second stop of this year’s tour and a historical moment in the British Longboard Union’s calendar, marking the organization’s 20th Anniversary.
There was a five surfer repechage round providing a second bite of the cherry for those unlucky not to finish in the top two
Saturday kicked off with the Open and Ladies divisions, from which there was a five surfer repechage round providing a second bite of the cherry for those unlucky not to finish in the top two and allowed a single competitor to progress through to Round three. Conditions changed dramatically with the tide and by the afternoon with a strong rip running and the tide and wind pushing up the swell it meant for much paddling to stay in position.
The event also faced a mythically epic example of a Welsh downpour as the heavens opened leaving spectators, judges and production crew in as aqueous an environment as the competitors, who completed their preliminary rounds in the building, shoulder high conditions delivered by the afternoon tidal push.
Sunday started with clean 2ft swell in calm sunny conditions for the semi-final heats of the Carve Open division which saw Jersey competitors Aaron Rowe and Josh Le Marquand progress to the finals alongside Devon’s Ben Howey and 11 times European Champion Ben ‘Skindog’ Skinner.
The Ladies’ round 3 heats were surfed in similarly good conditions, followed quickly by the semi-finals of the Single Fin and straight final of the Girls U18 before the event was placed on pause for low tide and associated drop in wave size.
Competition resumed in the afternoon with a shift in conditions as the wind increased to a strong onshore and a testing 3-4ft swell for the final of the Junior U18’s & the Grand Masters, followed by the Ladies semi-finals and finals of the Masters, Ladies and Single Fin divisions and concluding with the Carve Open final.
The Junior U18 heat saw some impressive displays of upcoming talent amongst finalists Jack Unsworth, Joe Hornbuckle, Jordan Zervas & Tom Horn with Jack Unsworth squeezing the win over Cadet U16 winner Jordan Zervas.
A wealth of surfing experience shone through during the final of the Masters and Grand Masters divisions with Adam Chell and Colin Bright respectively taking the titles as they battled the southern rip and challenging conditions to score some impressive rides into the bay.
Making it through to the finals of the Ladies category; defending Ladies champion Claire Smail, Bude’s Emily Currie, Newquay’s Jen Pendlebury and Jersey’s Charlotte Bayliss. Through a tight heat of graceful enigmatic rides from all competitors, Jen Pendlebury claimed her first competition win over Claire Smail.
Some fantastic competition between Ben Skinner and Josh le Marquand (previous local event winner at the Jersey Laneez El Tico Longboard Classic) thrilled spectators with a mix of traditional and progressive maneuvers during the very high scoring Single Fin final, with the win eventually going to Skinner.
The concluding division of the event – the Carve Open final – showcased an excellent display of progressive longboard surfing with Ben Skinner and Ben Howey combining both rail and fancy footwork to impressive effect, raising applause and hoots of excitement from the spectators and fellow competitors alike, to take first and second place respectively as the final horn triumphantly signaled the end of The British Longboard Unions 2nd tour event of 2016.
Words by Tyler Worth & Rich Unsworth
Open: 1 Ben Skinner 2 Ben Howey 3 Josh le Marquand 4 Aaron Rowe
Ladies: 1 Jen Pendlebury 2 Claire Smail 3 Emily Currie 4 Charlotte Bayliss
Single Fin: 1 Ben Skinner 2 Josh le Marquand 3 Jack Unsworth 4 Aaron Rowe
Masters: 1 Adam Chell 2 Colin Bright 3 Jason Gray 4 Ben Keay
Grand Masters: 1 Colin Bright 2 Simon Gould 3 Rich Unsworth 4 Ray Lee
Juniors U18: 1 Jack Unsworth 2 Joe Hornbuckle 3 Jordan Zervas 4 Tom Horn
Cadets U16: 1 Jordan Zervas 2 Tom Horn 3 Rudder Rava
Girls U18: 1 Beth Leighfield 2 Lily Wright
The British Longboard Union would like to thank Tour Manager and Contest Director Robert ‘Minnow’ Green for his continued dedication to the tour since 1996, Porthcawl local event organizer Steve Horn and the Welsh Coast Surf Club for the warmth of their hospitality.
We’d also like to thank our esteemed judges and members of the event team, without whom none of this would be possible.
Special thanks to our sponsors for their support of the event: Carve, Elusive Surf, Welsh Surfing Federation, Surfing Great Britain, Flow Surf and Skate, Malc’s Cafe, Porthcawl Surf School, Bridgend Bites, MÔR Creative: Creadigol, Escape Watersports, Rad Bags & The Welsh Coast Surf Club.