Post Card from Panama #6

The Grim Reaper.

Wednesday. Our sudden death heats started this morning, with Angus, Taz & Ellen all facing the axe in tricky low tide close-outs. The coaching team were stoked to have a magnificent turnout from the rest of the team who were down on the beach in the early morning sunshine, flags waving, to cheer their team mates into waves.

Team Surfing GB supporting their mate Angus in a tricky low tide heat early on Wednesday.

By noon all 3 had survived the ordeal and had better conditions to look forward to in round 2 this afternoon (or in Ellens case, on Thursday)

Max was first up in the R2 heats. Conditions had improved and he took full advantage, surfing a superb heat to progress to R3. In quick fire succession we then watched Angus and Taz lose out,both with easily makeable scores to chase, both gutted to be at the end of their journey in this event. Harry DeRoth redressed the balance with compact and efficient surfing, making his heat with a series of snappy turns.

Angus Scotney on his way out, but going down fighting.

Harry de Roth progresses to R3 repos

Paddy was the only u-18 boy to surf today and fell victim to a tight interference call. His contest is now over, but he has acquitted himself with some fine surfing, great style and fanatstic spirit.

The beach has begun to resemble a war zone with the intensity of competition hotting up: the volume of cheers and hoots has increased, the flags and pennants of the different national teams encamped up and down the shoreline are waving more and more vigorously , and assorted structures and vehicles; all lending an air of drama to the occasion. Its exciting stuff.

Certainly the passion of the teams on the beach is evident, and particularly so for the South and Central American teams. Their cheers and songs are the loudest, their teams the youngest, and the flair in their surfing is obvious. Brazil and Peru have been strong teams for a while- but Panama, Venezuela, Argentina, Chile, Ecuador, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Nicaragua are all making a strong bid for the coveted top 8. The bar has definitely been raised and the level of surfing across the contest has been fantastic. With 30 countries and 300 surfers competing, some big scalps have been taken by surfers from hitherto unrated nations. Traditional seats of domination are under threat, and performance levels are rising.

Taz, like Angus, went down fighting.

This team of committed young athletes have been through a gruelling winter training and selection process, and are being coached in Panama by Lloyd Cole and Joanne Dennison. Like the rest of the coaches who freely gave their time during the winter, Lloyd & Jo have both volunteered their time to look after the kids on this expedition and have thrown themselves into the task tirelessly.

Here Jo takes Ellen Harding through a pre-heat warm-up routine under the SGB beach Canopy. It feels about 40 deg celcius in there, but at least its a degree cooler than the beach outside.

To bring our level of performance up to match the powerhouse nations like Australia, Peru, USA and South Africa, we need to invest money. We need to support our surf clubs so they can nurture the young talent of the next generation, we need recognition from the UK government (which currently does not recognise surfing as a sport!) We need surfing in the P.E curriculum and we need academies, centres of excellence. And we need to pay committed coaches like Lloyd & Jo.

Max Payne, described by the webcast commentators as having a “priceless bottom turn” here putting in an equally impressive carve on the lip of this wave. It earned him a place in R3.

Passionate and committed. Venezuela cheer their team-mate on. The beach looks like a war zone. (Oh and yes, in case you are wondering, that IS a real mini hanging on the judges tower. No idea why!!!)

Day 4 Hightlights

Thanks to all the Supporters who have thrown their weight behind the GB Junior team

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