It seemed fitting that the UK’s longest running surfing competition was met by some good old-fashioned, wet English weather this bank holiday weekend. Over 170 competitors made it down to Watergate Bay to battle against the elements as well as each other in 17 different categories, for the highest titles in English Surfing as part of the 43rd English National Surfing Championships.
Managed by the students from Cornwall College’s FdSc Surf Science and Technology course in conjunction with the English Surfing Federation (ESF), this year’s competition marked the opening of the 2015 competitive surfing season and was the first stop on the UK Pro Surf Tour Circuit.
The Groms kicked off Saturday’s surfing, with Stanley Norman dominating his heats despite the drizzle and taking the win in the Under 12’s open final. Lily Mandeville did the same and ended her day crowned as the Under 14’s Girls champion.
Hannah Harding also made it through to the semi-finals of the Women’s Open only nine weeks after giving birth to her youngest son
Sunday’s stoical spectators braved much of the same weather under umbrella’s, to see the likes of previous English champions, Jayce Robinson and Russell Winter battle through the first of the Men’s Open heats, for the chance of once again competing in the final. Professional surfer, Hannah Harding also made it through to the semi-finals of the Women’s Open only nine weeks after giving birth to her youngest son. In the younger categories, Ellie Turner stormed through the challenging wind-chop to stomp her authority on the Boneyard Under 16’s Girls and the Zumba Under 18’s Girls categories, taking home both titles at the end of the day. Jack Unsworth also dominated in the Junior Longboard final to win with a total wave score of 13.2 and 18 year old Emily Currie made a powerful come-back to competitive longboarding, by winning her first Women’s Longboard title in two years, with a score almost double that of her fellow competitors.
By Monday, the umbrellas were no longer needed and Watergate Bay saw some sunshine as well as a solid 4-6ft swell just in time for the semi-finals and finals of this year’s competition.
Emily Currie continued her weekend of success with a decisive win in the Disco Bead’s Women’s Final over fellow surfer girls, Anne-Cecile Le Tallec, Peony Knight and last year’s tour champion, Lucy Campbell.
A fierce battle between young surfers, Eno James and Liam Murray Strout for the Under 16 Boys title
Earlier in the day, Drustan Ward had been named Veterans champion with a combined wave score of 11.83 and the category that followed hosted a fierce battle between young surfers, Eno James and Liam Murray Strout for the Under 16 Boys title. Eno’s 5 waves gave him an overall heat score of 14.67 and a narrow win over Liam’s 14.27. Plymouth’s Jonty Tucker took the Masters title in a heat against Rob Watson, Mike Young and Joel Gray. Then rising star, Harry DeRoth’s final wave in the Fistral Beach Under 18 Boys final boosted his score by a massive 8 points, giving him a 16.7 overall and resultantly the crown.
Adam ‘Bearman’ Griffiths successfully defended his title as Longboard Champion against the formidable talents of semi-final winner, Ben ‘Skindog’ Skinner, Sam Bleakley and Ben Haworth, in a heat that saw Skindog’s board snapped into two by the lip of a 6ft wave. There was no time for Ben to show his disappointment however, as he switched down to a short board and paddled strait back out for the final of the Seniors division. Shaun Skilton narrowly beat Joss Ash’s impressive 13.6 score with a 14.9 total to take the title.
I’m feeling pretty good! I’ve come second quite a few times in this contest, so it’s good just to get a win!
The final heat of the day saw Jobe Harriss crowned winner of the Men’s Open, after knocking last year’s champion, Jayce Robinson out of the semi-finals with a last minute bomb of a wave. Jobe said: “I’m feeling pretty good! I’ve come second quite a few times in this contest, so it’s good just to get a win! It was hard to position myself in the right place because the peak was so shifty but I had a few strait away off the bat and a few 6’s. I’ve got two months chill time now until the next Pro Junior starts and then it’ll be kind of non-stop from there with 8 or 9 contests on main-land Europe competing with the international guys. So yeah, hopefully I can do well!”
A blustery prize giving ended the event with the top ranking surfers being selected to compete as part of the English team in the European Championships later on this year. Congratulations to all who competed, if this was a taste of things to come, then Europe should be worried.
Images with thanks from Checkered Photography