The Bodyboard HQ British Nationals went off in great style on Saturday the 8th October to provide a fitting finale to the Auto Sleepers 2011 British Bodyboard Tour.
National titles in eight divisions were decided in the testing conditions at Porthtowan, with the event being the last in the Tour for Open, Women and Drop Knee; and the stand-alone for age divisions in the U14, U16, U18, Seniors and Masters.
The Collection House Under 14s were the first to hit the water with their semi finals; and with many of the competitors competing after the BBC/Bodyboard Depot training course a few weeks before expectations were high. The youngsters got fully stuck in to the ramps and faces on offer at low-tide Porthtowan and did not disappoint. Trevenna and Littlejohns laid down their marks seeing them both progress to the final later in the day.
Next up was the open division, and as has been the case all year there were no easy draws. The tour rankings decide the seeding into each event, so with some riders only having made it to one or two events there was always the potential for a big clash in an early round, which is exactly what happened.
For the Tour title to stay open until the very last minute, the 2010 champion and 2011 Tour leader Jack Johns had to be knocked out in the first round. With one no show in his heat, Jack was left to battle it out with the ever consistent Aidan Salmon and the super competitive Remi Geffroy. Everyone went to work; Remi stamped his authority on the heat with fast powerful combos. Aidan then got in on the action with a couple of solid rides which put him at the front of the pack. Throughout the heat Jack never quite found the rhythm he’s famed for and whilst the intention was bold, it never quite came off. Scores tabulated, Jack was out and Prisk and Winkworth were still in the race but they both needed a finals finish.
The rest of the open quarter finals were a great display of solid bodyboarding in the punchy beach conditions.
The Alder Drop Knee division had a superb cast of protagonists, with tour regulars Ollie Medland, Chris Milford and Alex Winkworth pitched against underground aficionados Andrew ‘Hilly’ Hill, Ross Littlejohns and Wales’ Dean Page. Throw former British DK champions Aiden Salmon and Laurie McCall into the mix and this was going to be something special. The first semi of Page, Winkworth, Hill and Milford was the best DK heat since the epic McCall and Wall showdown a few years ago. Page hooked into a number of outside lefthanders which he took apart with deep front-side hacks. Winkworth used his local knowledge and sat inside and rode the bowling hollow right which suited his natural foot stance. A couple of long combination filled manoeuvres ticked the judges’ boxes and the big scores rolled in. All the time Milford and Hill were in contention as they too threw buckets of spray around the beach, but they couldn’t catch Winky and Page. A seriously impressive display! Solid performances in the second heat saw the south coast’s Medland and Littlejohns progressing through with Salmon and McCall bowing out.
The pace didn’t slow down as the Auto Sleepers U18 division took to the water. With many of the riders in the last year they could compete for the Under 18 title, it was a hotly contested fight for the silverware. Hall looked comfortable in the conditions, his recent spell in France obviously paying off, but he was chased down to the wire by Jack Stevens’ performance of the year to advance into the final. Man of the grommet moment Sam Brabyn also booked himself a place in the final in semi number two and was joined by another “best of the year” performance from the south coast’s Harry Smith. The final could go any way!
Back to the Bodyboard HQ Open division and the semi finals were underway; three riders were still in contention with the eliminated Jack Johns still on top of the Tour leader board. Prisk and Winkworth had to make the final to stay in touch. To make things worse for the two and more interesting for everyone doing the sums on the beach, they were drawn in the same heat! However, both were on fire and dispatched Hall and Salmon with impressive style. So who would join them? Dinham, Wake, Milsom or Geffroy? It was another super tight heat with less than a point separating second and fourth. Remi was top of the pack and clear by a few points, and by the skin of his teeth and his consistent contest style, Dinham booked himself another finals slot.
And so on to the show downs and the eagerly awaited finals…. The girls got things underway, and for the first time this year, a full quota took to the water. Clemi was fresh from the win at Connies, Smedley was top of the leader board and looked good but the contest reliable Gemma Briton joined them as did Tabby Fox who had just returned for the Euros in Ireland, this was going to be good! Clemi opened her account with a bowling right which saw a tight reverse in the pocket. Smedley then showed her intentions with a great spin to lofty roll combo. Gemma and Tabby stayed cool but the waves just wouldn’t come. Both scored good left-handers but didn’t have the same clinical finish of the heat leaders. After her great first wave, Olivia Smedley never found the second big score she wanted and a confident Clemi Hardy got what she needed from a number of further long bowling rights that offered great sections for her trademark reverses. Clemi took the heat and the CW Harwood sponsored event win, but with a second place finish, Olivia got the points for the first ever British Tour Women’s title!
The Collection House under 14s were next and as expected it was the Trevenna and Littlejohns show. These guys have a very bright future ahead of them in the sport. Wave of the heat and one of the best of the day went to Trevenna who whipped the sweetest reverse which saw his lightweight frame nearly lifting clear of the face. He caught the rail and powered out of the spin and down the line into another carve. Big scores all round and with a second long left combo filled wave he was out of sight. Littlejohns was only a point behind with another brilliant display. Jack Cruse and Liam Richards also showed we have an exciting future in British Bodyboarding.
The Beach Cafe U16 was a little thin on the ground so it was a straight 5 man final. Again some new faces were great to see at the event and will no doubt feature in future finals but Brabyn and Newquay’s Joe Woodhouse dominated. Both looked good but Brabyn’s rapidly improving contest head saw him take the heat with a superb score of 14.33 and the title!
The 2010 Under 18 final was one of the highlights of the weekend and this year’s ASG sponsored 2011 final looked set to be just as good. Steve Hall couldn’t quite emulate the same incredible start to his 2010 final but his opening gambit put one foot on the podium with his trademark linking reverses and punchy rolls. Smith, Brabyn and Stevens all chased hard but in the end the race was for second place as Hall found a second high scoring ride to give a big heat total just shy of 15 points and another trophy for the cabinet. The race for second was won by a fraction with Brabyn sneaking passed Smith putting Stevens into fourth place.
The Toys Bodyboard Seniors division was next, but with some of the open division riders now well and truly within the category the action didn’t slow down. Darren McPhail and Gareth Harris had their work cut out with Damian Prisk in their heat. It was a nail biter for second place and in the end it was just 0.27 points separating the riders with McPhail getting the better of Harris. Great to see some new faces in this division but it was no great surprise to see Damo take the title.
The eagerly awaited Alder DK final saw another down-to-the-line race for the Tour title between Winkworth and Medland. Welshman Dean Page started where he finished his last heat with a huge front side snap sending another sheet of water over the back of the wave to worry the others in the heat. Frustratingly for Medland and Littlejohns the waves wouldn’t come to them. They did well with what they found, but the peeling set waves were hard to get. So it was down to Winkworth and Page for the final spot. Winkle had a good bash with some solid manoeuvres out of the pocket but it was Page’s hard hitting and fast flowing carves that did it for him. Let’s hope we see this man on next year’s tour events.
The BBC Masters division was a four horse race that in the end needed a photo finish! After 20 minutes of surfing the difference between first and forth was 2 points. The Jersey duo of Colin Crowther and Simon Watkins were against locals Hilly and Bruno Martin. Hilly opted to do things differently and stuck to his jack stance and he gave it a good go posting a 10.60 final score. Just in front was Crowther on 10.67! After a solid first wave he couldn’t find the second ride he needed to challenge his island rival Watkins. Simon found a couple of long lengths and gave a solid competition performance nicely completing some great combos. Bruno Martin gave it a last minute charge with some good right-handers but it was too little too late, Watkins completed his Masters trophy cabinet and took first place for the first time.
So in the pouring rain the final heat of the day and the Tour decider got going. There was 20 minutes to win it, but who would it be? Dinham got to work and again surfed a solid heat but lacked the set waves and the variety to reach the big scores. Winkworth used his local knowledge and surfed with his smooth style showing through again but like Dinham, the set waves didn’t come his way. Prisk didn’t really put a foot wrong and as expected threw his combinations together in his fast powerful way, but there was one man in the water who wanted it even more. Remi found a couple of long rights and surfed them with power and speed and took a risk off the peak. It really was a great performance throughout the day from Remi and in the end he deserved the win.
But what of the tour? It couldn’t have been much tighter, just what you want as a spectator, not what you want as a competitor. So in reverse order and on 1095 points it was Alex Winkworth. In second place (drum roll please), was Jack Johns on 1110 points and with 1265 points and the 2011 ASG British Tour Champion, ladies and gentlemen, we give you, Damian Prisk!
It was a sick comp well run by the BBC and well supported by British Bodyboarding and of course the headline sponsor Bodyboard HQ. The presentation evening in the Blue Bar was a good laugh and many a beer was sunk as the night wore on.
The BBC would like to thank sponsors Bodyboard HQ, Auto Sleepers, Collection House, The Beach Cafe Porthtowan, C W Harwood, Alder Wetsuits, Toys Bodyboards and the Blue Bar for making the event possible.
It’s been a great year for British Bodyboarding. The BBC committee will now go back to HQ and work out plans for the 2012 tour. We’ve learned a lot and we’re always open to ideas so send us an email to email@example.com and we’ll keep working for you.