Letters from America
Updated every day: scroll to the bottom for the latest news
Monday 05th & Tuesday 06th October 2015, the squad members who will represent Great Britain at the 2015 Vissla ISA World Junior Surfing Championships assembled from United Kingdom, Mexico & South Africa. Twenty-four exciting hours later the team arrived in sunny Oceanside, California, North Americas premier surf destination.
Wednesday 07th – Saturday 10th October 2015, fully recovered from the epic journey, fed and watered on healthy American cuisine the squad, in the capable hands of the coaching team Chris, Damo and Gwen went to work fine-tuning each surfer’s equipment, heat strategies, psychology and nutrition, whilst getting used to surfing Peak A & B at the contest site. During this training period the Great Britain team got to test their surfing skills against competitors from all 36 other nations competing at the event.
Thursday 08th October, the team descended upon the ISA HQ for team registration and team pictures.
Friday 09th October, the team arrived at the beach first light to be greeted with perfect 4-6ft barrelling waves. After some psyching up the team entered the water and what can only be described as a barrel fest unfolded, with a number of the team scoring some of the best waves of their lives!!!
Here are some of those moments caught on camera between the coaching teams hooting and jumping about on the beach
In the evening the team were lucky enough to meet past USA surf champion John O’Connor for some inspirational words and inside knowledge on the breaks at Oceanside, California.
Perfect waves pre event for the squad to fine-tune their competitive juices.
Team GB Junior Surf Team
Arran Strong , Charlie Rio, George Hudson, Louis Thomas-Hudson
Peony Knight, Emily Currie
Jake Elkington , Eno James, Liam Murray Strout, Kit Innes
Ellie Turner, Kitty Brewer
Saturday 10th October, Whilst Team Manager Chris Brown and Boys Head Coach Damon Beveridge attended the ‘Team Manager Meeting’ to find our all pre event information and heat draws for the event, the team took advantage of the perfect Oceanside conditions to practice more on both the south and north contest peaks.
Sunday 11th October,
The Great Britain team attended as one of thirty-six countries, the ‘Parade of Nations & Opening Ceremony’. A total of 321 competitors paraded the half-mile ‘stand’ that runs opposite the Oceanside beach in sweltering 30 degrees heat. The countries were placed in alphabetical order with team Hawaii directly behind and team France in front, obviously the Great Britain team made sure they chanted louder than the French! On arrival in the centre of Oceanside the entire national sat and listened to ‘Fernando’ (ISA President) officially open the event. Furthermore as part of event tradition the team captains (Louis Thomas-Hudson & Emily Currie) were asked to come onto the stage and wave the Union Jack flag whilst pouring sand taken from Crooklets beach, Bude into the ‘Sands of the World’ container.
Monday 12th October,
Light offshores 3-5ft warm surf greeted the team for the first day of competition. All eight of the male team were in action today, based on the ISA seeding system it saw the boys draw some tricky heats with mainly Australians, Mexicans and Tahitians. After an exhausting ten hours of competition the GB Team did fantastic with four of the eight surfers progressing into round two of the main event. Worry not as the other four surfers now enter the repo charge event that starts on Wednesday 14th October, which gives surfers a second chance if they loose in the main event. Todays highlight performance from a GB surfer came from Mr Jake Elkington in the U16 boy division who took the win over the top ranked Tahitian and Australian surfers.
Tuesday 13th October,
Light offshore 4-6ft groomed surf greeted the team for the second day of competition. Today saw the four girls take to the water for the first time (Emily, Peony, Ellie & Kitty) whilst the boys who progressed yesterday were back in action in round two (Jake, Liam, Arran & Charlie). Similar to day one the heat draws were based on the ISA seeding system it saw the boys draw some tricky heats with mainly French and Mexican surfers, whilst the girls drew Australians, Americans and Hawaiians. After an gruelling ten hours of competition the GB Team did fantastic with four of the eight surfers progressing into the next rounds of the main event. Worry not as the other four surfers now enter the repo charge event that starts tomorrow, Wednesday 14th October. Todays highlight performance from a GB surfer came from Ms Peony Knight in the U18 girls division who took the win over the top ranked Australian and Puerto Rican surfers.
October today saw nine of the GB Team take to the water in tricky 3ft waves and variable winds. Day three very quickly followed the standards set during days one and two with GB surfers advancing from over 75% of their heats. In 30 degrees heat the team powered through the ten hours of competition, with ten out of the squad of twelve still competing in either the repo charge or main event. A special mention goes out to legendary team captain Louis Thomas-Hudson and fellow U18’s surfer George Hudson who were unfortunately knocked out of the event. Todays highlight performance from a GB surfer came from Mr Eno James in the U16 boys division who took found his form and took the win in round 1 of the repo charges.
THURSDAY 15th October
The remaining ten surfers in the GB Team took to the water in a number of high profile ‘sudden death’ heats, however with the wind turning onshore the conditions looked more and more like Cornwall and less like California. Advancing into day four with ten team members still in the competition was a step into the unknown for British surfing at an ISA World Championships, however the business end of the competition is now fast approaching with ability levels and heat scores on the rise. Ten hours of anxious moments later, as the sunsets on the final heats on day four of competition the ‘GB Team’ once again achieved brilliant results with seven surfers advancing into day five of competition. A special mention goes out to Kit Innes (U16 Boys) and Kitty Brewer (U16 Girls) who both managed to win through one round in the repo charge in their first ISA World Championships. A second mention must also go to Charlie Reo (U18 Boys) who made it all the way to the repo charge round three, once gain in his first ISA World Championships. Todays highlight performance from a GB surfer came from Miss Ellie Turner in the U16 girls division who at just age 14 is one of the first Britain’s to make it to the quarter finals of the main event.
FRIDAY 16th October,
With ability levels rising and the stakes becoming more important the GB Team entered the day with seven surfers still competing. The aim for the team was to make event history and progress to the finals days on Saturday and Sunday. Tricky, medium (3-4ft) onshore conditions were on offer for the GB Team and a mixture of results followed, at this level close scores decide every heat and today Team GB had close results go both fore and against. After another ten hours of competition in the sudden death rounds (finish in the top two or go home) united as a team they chirred on heroically both Peony and Ellie who managed to power through their respective heats and progress to ‘Repo Charge’ semi finals. A special mention must also go to Arran Strong (U18’s Boys) who made it all the way to the round three main event and repo charge round four, Emily Currie for making it to round three in the repo charge, Liam Murry Strout , in his first ISA World Championships as a competitor ,Eno James (REP 3) & Jale Elkinton (REP 5). All the staff are incredibly pround of the team members who were knocked out today, each of you hve really done the staff and the country proud.
SATURDAY 17th October,
Remaining GB surfers Peony Knight and Ellie Turner took a giant leap into the unknown as they both prepared for the biggest 15 minutes of their competitive lives in their respective repo charge semi finals. First up was Ellie, who shrugged on any early nerves and dropped a 5-point ride, backed up with a 4-point ride to sit anxiously on a 9.80 total, in the dyeing moments the Peruvian surfer linked a wave to the beach, the contest was put on hold and the crowd were silent in anticipation. An instant the commentator announced that the score fell short and that Ellie Turner from Great Britain had progressed to the second repo charge semi final, the furthest any British surfer has ever progressed in an ISA World Competition. Unfortunately the waves didn’t come Ellie’s way in the next round and her brilliant run in the event came to an end. This however will give Ellie a top 10 ranking in the world in the U16 girls age category. Peony Knight battled fiercely in her U18 repo charge semi final however fell short just needing a small score to progress, this was Peony’s fourth ISA World Junior Championships event, saving her best to last she placed higher than ever before and has achieved the highest ever placing for an U18 Girl.
The elimination of Peony and Ellie bring the curtain down on a fantastic team performance from the GB Squad, who now get to enjoy watching the finals on Sunday 18th October and the possibility of surfing on of the worlds best waves in Trestles, which is 30 minutes from Oceanside and a much deserved reward for the team efforts
SUNDAY 18th October
Sunday saw the finals of the four divisions, where four champions from four nations were crowd (Hawaii, USA, France & Italy). Team GB enjoyed the competition from the beach with many of the other teams who have also been eliminated from the competition.
Once the competition had been completed Team GB joined with the surfers, coaches and managers of all 36 other countries in the events closing ceremony. The team also had the pleasure of being joined by Great British adaptive surfer Spike, who recently competed in the ISA Adaptive Games in California. Team GB then nervously awaited the final team point calculations to give Great Britain a 2015 world ranking. The team rankings were announced in ascending order; the GB Team held their breaths in anticipation with famous surfing nations such as Mexico, New Zealand, Chile & Brazil all revealed before ‘GB’. The 2015 ranking for Great Britain was greeted with a huge cheer by the team as 11th in the world, this is one of the highest ever rankings in the history of the competition and shows the positive development and growth Great Britain’s surfing.
MONDAY 19th October, the teams last full day in California started like all other with an energy fuelled, large breakfast and warm blue sky’s and light offshore winds. Twenty minutes north of Oceanside lay one of the world’s most famous waves ‘ Trestles’, the management team thought that spending the final day there would be the perfect finish to a trip of a lifetime for the twelve team members. Our good fortune continued throughout the day with all the team scoring brilliant, empty waves
Once the team had surfed out all their energy we then headed twenty minutes from Trestles to Dana Point for the team to enjoy a traditional Californian BBQ, followed by a frozen yogurt, the team were joined by John O’Connor and his family, who gave the team some words of inspiration eight days earlier on the 10th October.
TUESDAY 20th – WEDNESDAY 21st October, the team’s long journey from Oceanside to Los Angeles, Los Angeles to Minneapolis, Minneapolis to Heathrow and Heathrow to home begins. Needless to say surfers don’t travel light, the team naturally drew lots of attention every step of the way!
The team met some truly inspirational people during the fourteen days in California, without them the trip and the teams result wouldn’t have been the same.
THE ISA WORLD JUNIOR CHAMPIONSHIPS 2016…
Team GB now have eleven months until the 2016 ISA World Junior Championships, which are being held in the Azores Islands (Sept 2016). The management and the squad will be driven to give the team the best opportunity of breaking back into the top ten for the first time in over a decade.