Surf events can be a challenge at times, but more often than not the juice is worth the squeeze, and this was the case as Surfing GB put on the largest British Nationals in recent times over the weekend of October 24th and 25th at Croyde Bay, Devon.
The 2015 Magicseaweed British National Surf Championships supported by Korev Lager was postponed in September due to a lack of swell, a call which enabled the event to luck into one of the best days of the year for Surfing at Croyde.
Even before day 1 began contest officials knew it was going to be a testing weekend, with an original entry of 230 across 13 divisions that was narrowed down to 175 through a limit enforced on multiple category entries. The hype built for weeks in advance and attention soon turned to the forecast provided by Magicseaweed which showed Sunday as the best day, but Saturday to be a test. Despite best efforts, the stormy conditions proved too much for the large contest marque which was upside down as officials arrived before the break of dawn on Saturday, it was soon overturned and business resumed. Not much attention was paid to the contest site at first, unsurprisingly, as 4-6ft peaks with offshore winds rolled into the bay and the excitement meter shot sky high amongst competitors.
The Nationals kicked off as first light broke and the Star Surf Camps Men’s open and the Billabong U14 boys both entering the water simultaneously, as to cater for the entry levels a double peak system was used for the weekend. The tone was set and the bar raised from the word go as supreme turns and airs rained down from favourites Reubyn Ash, Alan Stokes, Jayce Robinson and crew, as well as stellar performances from defending champion Lucy Campbell and Team GB surfers Peony Knight and Emily Currie. Many heats were powered through and victories and loses awarded in equal measure but as the event pushed on unfortunately the forecast was to become reality, as a squall of darkness, rain and wind appeared on the horizon and came in with brute force and little sympathy, causing a deterioration in surf conditions but we are British and this is what we know, so competition continued and thankfully Croyde Surf Club were on hand to provide hot drinks and cover as well as other supporters and sponsors.
Day two was the day that proved that the juice was well and truly worth the squeeze. A day of pumping waves, consistent offshore winds and sunshine to boot saw the event kick off on the dropping low tide banks that Croyde is famous for. A morning of barrel hunting, hacking turns and spray throwing saw the business end of the event coming to a head. Many of the big names in British Surfing were still in, some were not, but having an event like this that encapsulates all divisions from Veterans to Under 12’s gives the competitive British Surfing community a chance to view where the future stars lie and take inspiration from the previous champions all in one weekend. The finals of all division took place on the pushing tide as the atmosphere built and the elevated contest site buzzed with spectators. The finals of the Billy Budds Seniors (over 28’s), the Caravan Club women’s and the Star Surf Men’s all took place on a single peak, as judges were added making 5 man panels and everyone watched in awe of the best in Britain.
So as all crowded around the presentation area, with no results published on finals the atmosphere was ripe ready to discover their champions. First title was awarded to Bonita Whitelock, who signs off an impressive year and took the Caravan Club U12 girls title, whilst Kade Penny took the Billabong U12 title. The 110% Surfing Techniques U14 girl’s title was taken by a consistently in form Ellie Turner and following a close battle the Billabong U14’s was won by Welsh lad Seth Morris. Kitty Brewer used her recent World Championship experience to take the Caravan Club U16 Girl’s title and fellow Team GB competitor Liam Murray Strout came out on top in the Carve Visionaries Boys Under 16 boys. Local Peony Knight used her knowledge of the break to capture the Caravan Club U18 Girls crown, whilst Newquay boy Angus Scotney powered his way to a Santa Cruz U18 boys champion title. The Veterans division was well earned by Drustan Ward who left victorious whilst Mike Young was crowned as the Kings Arms Masters champion and Johnny Wallbridge walked away as the champion of the Billy Budds Seniors division.
The two biggest titles in British Surfing were decided lastly, but last years champion Lucy Campbell fell just short and Peony Knight made it the double with a win in the Caravan Club Womens division. The final of the Star Surf Camps mens open was made up of the impressive Reubyn Ash, Miles Lee Hargreaves, Jayce Robinson and Luke Dillon, all having battled hard to get to the final hurdle, but Luke Dillon ultimately using his power surfing and negotiation of the high tide Croyde breaks to his advantage and securing his name in history as the 2015 British Champion.
Thank you to all that took part, helped along the way and all the staff that stuck strong in a testing but incredible weekend, that really highlights the awesome scene that is British Surfing. Thank you to all sponsors and supported including Magicseaweed, Korev lager, Surfdome, Acer Technologies, Aquajuice drinks, Star Surf Camps, The Caravan Club, Billabong, Carve Visionaries, Santa Cruz, 110% Surfing Techniques, Fuel 10k, Billy Budds, The Kings Arms Georgeham, Dryrobe, Croyde Surf Club, Christian Surfers, Creation Fest, Redbull, Saunton Hotdoggers, Skylens and the landowners.
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The Caravan Club U12 division
1st Bonita Whitelock 2nd Eve Sharp 3rd Jem Cogger
The Billabong U12 Boys
1st Kade Penny 2nd Luke Barfield 3rd Thoma Reeves 4th Sam Taylor
110% Surfing Techniques Girls U14
1st Ellie Turner 2nd Lily Mandeville 3rd Ffion Hughes 4th Nyah Whittinghm
U14 Billabong Boys
1st Seth Morris 2nd Will Masterman 3rd Noah Capps 4th Barnaby Cox
The Caravan Club U16 Girls
1st Kitty Brewer 2nd Mischa Maguire 3rd Ruby Breadon 4th Amy Dyer
The Carve Visionaries Europe U16 Boys
1st Liam Murray Strout 2nd Kit Innes 3rd Logan Nicol 4th Cieran Hughes
The Caravan Club U18 Girls
1st Peony Knight 2nd Emily Currie 3rd Flora Lawton 4th Georgia Timson
Santa Cruz skateboards U18 Boys
1st Angus Scotney 2nd Will Bailey 3rd Max Payne 4th Rhys Barfield
The King’s Arms Georgeham Masters division
1st Mike Young 2nd Paul Kirby 3rd James Jones 4th Jonty Tucker
The Billy Budds Seniors
1st Johnnyy Wallbridge 2nd Alex Chisholm 3rd Benjamin Chapman 4th Steve Ley
The Veteran Division
1st Drustan Ward 2nd Dave Renauud 3rd Anthony Kilday 4th Darren Burrett
The Caravan Club Womens Open
1st Peony Knight 2nd Emily Cuurrie 3rd Lucy Campbell 3rd Ellie Turner
The Star Surf Camps Open division
1st Luke Dillon 2nd Jayce Robinson 3rd Reubyn Ash 4th Miles Lee Hargreaves