It should have been the final event of an epic season, but it turned out to be just the start of a difficult year for the BBC Tour, jinxed by flat day after flat day. However, with a chart finally looking good for one of the North Coast’s favourite bodyboard spots the entries started rolling in. In fact, every division was loaded with a massive entry of talent from the household names to the upcoming youth who made their mark in their maiden Tour event.
With the all new, all surf twice format everyone was keen to take a gamble in their first heat throwing the big moves. If it didn’t work out, they had a chance to get back in the main progression via the repercharge.
Early stand outs were hardly a surprise, Jack Johns showed his silky skills, Alex Winkworth was very comfortable in the familiar waves and Jersey’s Dave Speller now living in the south west showed he’s still finding time between university lectures to get in the water and hone his bodyboarding.
There were a couple of names in the repercharge that were unexpected but with a rethink about then judging criteria, Brook Mason and Eldred Hawke got rid of the spins and hit the lip in fine style posting some big scores and seeing them through to the second day. The groms were also in the mix with more under 16 division riders in the main event and going through to the latter rounds than ever before.
The first day of wedgy action finished with the two straight final that were the womens and the dropknee divisions, and what a treat they were!
Womens bodyboarding in the UK has been ticking over for a while but in the last couple of years some new faces have arrived on the scene. The girls are a close crew but welcome anyone new and are really pushing each other. Early in the 30 minute final it was too close to call, all five were showing power and control in the heavy shore break. Clemi Hardy was first to pick up the pace with a fast roll on a right hander but this was quickly followed by a tight reverse on a bowling left by Olivia Smedley who now has the infamous El Fronton experience and some travelling around New Zealand under her belt. Kirsty Mann, Megan Penny and Tabby Fox were all picking off the better sets and kept everything really close. Wave of the heat went to Smedley with a reeling left. After a scooping bottom turn she raced the lip before smashing it with a huge roll landing in the flats pretty much on dry sand. Massive commitment and awesome surfing! Second place was a seriously close call but the bigger waves and tight control on the pocket demonstrated by Fox just beat Hardy into second place in a count-back situation. Well done girls, that was epic!
The final heat of the day was the DK. Another very talented line-up promised much in the difficult DK wave. Andrew Hill and Ross Littlejohns were first to exchange lip smashes and get the points rolling. A the quiet and patient McCall waited were he knew the waves would come from and nailed two sweet floaters to put him into the lead at the halfway mark. Last year’s DK Tour winner Winkworth put together a run of right handers suiting his natural foot stance and a number of spray throwing reverses got him in the mix. It was McCall who took to bumpy bull by the horns and boosted a incredible lip grind which saw his board leaving the water, it ticked all the boxes for the judges and the big scores were awarded. A brilliant heat in the conditions, the DK Tour looks set to be a close run battle.
Day was greeted by some mild concern (should read frenzied panic!) in the head judge’s household as a surf check revealed a massive swell drop and the conditions at Portreath uncontestable. The well oiled team were pragmatic, made use of their professional contacts as well as rider input and a decision was made to move the event to nearby Porth Towan. It wasn’t what we wanted but we had a contest to run.
The early rounds proved the decision to move had been a good one and the riders made the most of the surprisingly punchy waves. Prisk and Johns looked good but so did young gun Tyler Littlejohns. The development of this young rider in the last 12-months has been remarkable and the grom crew he rides with are right there with him. The slightly older Sam Brabyn feels like a veteran already and it shows as his surfing took him through to the semi finals.
An increase in wind strength saw a deterioration in conditions which led to riders requesting and change in venue back to Portreath. A scouting party was formed of riders and judges. It was close but no cigar, Potreath simply wasn’t big enough or consistent enough to warrant the move so it was game on at Porth Towan. This did at least show the direction the BBC want to move in, listen to and work with the riders if the best bodyboarding is being sought.
Back in the water it was becoming a bit of a lottery with anyone able to find and attack a lip getting the big scores. In semi final number one Dave Speller blew up with a sweet ARS and roll combo getting one of the biggest scores of the weekend. He promptly followed this up with a bigger ARS landed fully rotated in the pocket, THE biggest score of the event was duly dished out.
In Semi number two the quiet rider of the event booked himself a spot on the final. Saltash’s Aaron Dinham who recently attended a BBC judging evening had changed his approach to contest surfing. By consistently riding set waves and committing to lip manoeuvres early in the wave he picked up big scores all weekend. The BBC hopes to run another of these events in search for more support for events but if you’re a competitor, you might also find it useful for analysis of your own approach to both contest and free surfing.
To the final! Damian Prisk, Dave Speller, Alex Winkworth and Aaron Dinham, it would have been a brave man to put money on this, any of them could take it. Speller, fresh from his ARS arsenal struggled to find the wedgy lefts he needed to repeat the feat. Alex Winkworth struggled to find a lip that would offer anything on the big points scoring outside section. Dinham found the long rides and did complete several looping rolls on the outside. But it was local man and 2011 tour winner Damian Prisk who got busy with the big move combos. The heat flew by and no time the final hooter of the day blew its double blast.
Everyone bolted back to Portreath and the event sponsor’s sparkling new space at Bodyboard HQ. Make sure you drop in and see the main man Dave next time your in the area of check out the website www.bodyboardhq.co.uk.
A huge well done to everyone involved and a big well done to the BBC Team who organised, judged and tabulated the weekend. Thanks to the event sponsors, Bodyboard HQ and the Atlantic Café in Portreath. We’ll see you at Porthtowan for the Nationals on November 3/4th.
Damian Prisk – 1st
Aaron Dinham – 2nd
Dave Speller – 3rd
Alex Winkworth – 4th
Olivia Smedley – 1st
Tabby Fox – 2nd
Clemi Hardy 3rd
Megan Penny – 4th
Kirsty Mann – 5th
Laurie McCall – 1st
Alex Winkworth – 2nd
Andrew Hill – 3rd
Ross Littlejohns – 4th
For photos from the event check out our facebook page http://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.10152175777130551.915059.429612175550&type=3