British Junior – Portugal Training Camp
The British Junior Squad’s time in Portugal is coming to an end. It has been an incredible week of training which has seen everyone progress as the week has moved along. At the start of the camp Head Coach Lloyd Cole set an aim to the squad of a top ten finish at this years ISA World Junior Surfing Games in Ecuador. The goals for the week would be all about working towards producing the standard of surfing and preparation that we expect for a top ten finish to be achievable. There have been some impressive performances in every session the squad has undertaken and today would provide to be the icing on the cake.
The last full day in the Portugal would be contest day, where the King and Queen of the camp would be crowned. Everyone was up for breakfast as usual at 7:30 where the heat sheets and running order were on the board to greet them. With glorious sunshine and contestable surf waiting, there was no hesitation getting the first heat in the water at 8:00am. With only three under 18 boy surfers at the camp, they entered the draw with the under 16 boys. The under 16 girls and under 18 girls all surfed against each other twice, with the surfers with the highest heat averages making the girls final. The boys would surf a progression round heat, but would gain a second chance of making the final through the repercharge rounds if they lost in round one.
The morning rounds were extremely entertaining with some solid performances going down. The highlight of round one was the first heat of the day, which saw Will Bailey paddle out after a night suffering with the dreaded camp sickness bug to smash his heat with a 15.2 total. The big surprise was that 13 year old Sonny Perrussel sent heat favourite Taz Knight into the Rep rounds, taking second place on count back with a 13 point total.
After the first rounds were completed in the morning, everyone headed back to the High Performance Centre to have a brunch and debrief from the morning session. Once the squad had eaten and had a quick game of ping-pong to relax, the girls and boys split into two groups to attend a classroom session with Lloyd and Damo. The session took the surfers through all aspects of trying to become a professional surfer. Lloyd and Damo held a workshop to cover how to prepare mind, body and equipment, to continue the gains achieved during camp once we leave. To conclude the session, the surfers were then shown more footage of the trip on the big screen to build up to the afternoon’s big finals.
With the weather still holding through the afternoon, the finals were held under blue skies on 2-3ft building rights breaking off the harbor wall on the North end of the beach. Everyone spent the afternoon cheering on their peers from the rocks along with a few local fishermen and some of the High Performance Centre staff. The boys hit the water first and after a early exit to the rep rounds, Taz Knight fought his way back to the grand final to join Will Bailey, Sonney Perrussel, Arran Strong and Liam Murray Strout. It was an incredibly close affair and highly entertaining for everyone watching on the beach. Everyone was clearly eager to walk away with the ‘King of the Camp’ crown. After several great exchanges involving all surfers, the heat concluded with Taz taking first, Sonny second, Liam third, Arran fourth and Will Fifth.
To finish off the camp and bring the day’s competition to a close, the girls paddled out into the heavy rip bowl to battle it out to become champion. The four surfers with the highest heat averages after the first two rounds were Peony Knight, Emily Currie, Flora Lawton and Ellen Harding. Both Ellen and Peony were quick out of the blocks and posted good wave scores early on in the heat. Despite their best efforts, Flora and Emily had some good waves but couldn’t quite find one of the long growing right-handers that would allow them to perform multiple turns through to the beach. Ellen and Peony however did, and would fight it out between them all the way to the final buzzer. Once the heat came to a close, it was Ellen that marginally edged out Peony to take first place with Flora in third and Emily fourth.
The week has been a real step forward for the squad and developing the attitudes, fitness and performance levels expected of a national squad of athletes. The High Performance Centre in Viana and its staff (www.surfingviana.com) have been incredible, providing us with everything we have needed. We hope to continue to return each year to prepare our juniors for the ISA world surfing games. It has been an honor to get to work with such a great bunch of talented surfers and two extremely inspirational coaches in Damo and Lloyd. Now all that is left for us to do is the almost impossible task of selecting which surfers will go on to represent Team GB in Ecuador in a month’s time.
Wish us luck….
Over and out!!