Did someone mention a solid swell? I wish you hadn’t, that’s the way to ignite the BBC swell curse, a spell so strong it can turn winds through 180 degrees and flatten seas that promise so much. And so it was, another morning when the contest crew were left scratching heads and a back-up plan rapidly hatched.
With Portreath not picking up much swell but the high-tide offering a few wedgy options as opposed to the larger but fatter conditions of Porthtowan, the decision was made to make the most of Portreath and come back on Sunday for what was felt, “couldn’t be any worse…”
With five national division champions to crown plus the open, womens and dropknee tour event to complete, there was lots to get through and so, the national divisions were first up. The experienced Alder Wetsuits seniors division was sprinkled with a couple of new faces, those birthdays soon add up! Damian Prisk, Rob Barber, Remi Geffroy and Ross Littlejohns were the contenders in the final. Ross laid down a solid start to the heat finding a solid wedgy “v” peak and nailed a looping projected roll. The predominant right didn’t favour Barber, a man more at home on lefts, and Remi fresh from London hadn’t quite got that well-oiled contest attack ticking over just yet. This left Prisk comfortable on his home turf, a position you don’t want to leave him in! With a combination of linking spins and rolls and an ARS to excite the judges, the deal was done with casual class. New face to the scene Ross Littlejohns took a well-earned second place ahead of Barber and Geffroy.
After a quick Bovril and a chance to change slippers and pipe, the Alder Masters division slid into the line-up. The final saw a return of Prisk and a startled Barber (quick maths revealing yes, I qualify for this division now!) and they were joined by Trevone’s Andrew “Hilly” Hill. Barber came back to this final with a little more knowledge of the peak from the previous heat and found himself more opportunities on longer left-hand rides with some high scoring combinations. Hilly, more noted for his DropKnee antics popped up on the knee but the bumpy conditions didn’t lend well to the long combinations needed to challenge for the title. Prisk remained stylish throwing a number of banking reverses but the combinations were fewer than Barber’s. It was going to be a close call, so close that their top two scores were tied on the judges’ score sheets and so it went to a count back. The consistently good Prisk took it and with it, title number two of the day.
On to the grom divisions. These young riders have been a highlight of the British scene in the last 12-months and the small wedgy conditions were a perfect playground for them. During 2012 new names have quickly become established and so Sam Brabyn, Tyler Littlejohns, James Trevenna and Joe Woodhouse were all there in the NMD under 18 final which would be run on day two of competition. The CW Harwood under 16 division became a 5 man final with an exciting mix of local groms and some challengers from further up the coast. Some excellent exchanges went down with some recent coaching for these young riders helping them tackle competition surfing. Liam Richards and Matthew Secombe both put together combinations that put them in contention but local ripper James Trevenna who knows the wave better than most took advantage. Despite the now falling conditions he found himself a lined-up right hander, raced down the line and just when it looked like he’d ridden passed the high scoring section of the wave, he bottom turned into the lip and launched a heat winning, title grabbing ARS. Good work young man.
Day Two – the day that “couldn’t be any worse…”
Day two dawned with lighter winds, a more favourable tide and slightly larger swell. However, the contest crew still deemed conditions too small to run the Open Tour event. The NMD under 18 final was first in the water and the rapidly maturing style of Sam Brabyn going both left and right saw him take the heat with a cool nonchalance that seems to ooze from all the top riders. Tyler Littlejohns picked up second place, Joe Woodhouse in third and James Trevenna taking the final spot. Great work guys!
The girls were keen to get their slice of the action and were up next. With two regular faces out of the mix there were just three entries from Megan Penny, Tabby Fox and current Women’s tour leader Olivia Smedley. Megan was carrying an ankle injury sustained recently. When asked how she’d done it she told the BBC’s Alex Ledbrooke, “I feel like I’ve not been charging hard enough so I’ve just been pulling into heavy hollow waves. Unfortunately I got nailed the other day and bust my ankle”. That’s charging! And it very nearly paid off when she scooped into a heavy right wedge and raced a deep barrel. It was close but no cigar. Tabby Fox opened her account with a solid roll off a critical closeout section. That put her in a commanding position and needing just one back-up scoring wave. However, “Deadley” Smedley is a seriously cool customer and quietly picked off some good waves and put together two long rides with a combination including tight reverses in the pocket. She snuck into the lead and with the clock ticking Tabby couldn’t find the second high scoring wave she needed and came up just 0.5 points short of her first tour event win. Another great performance and yet more progression in this exciting division.
There must be a special mention here to the only under 14 competitor this year. Perran Chapman, a Portreath grom keen for his first taste of competition joined the women’s heat to show off his skills. He had a great time dropping in late to some good set waves and racing down the line. A promising young talent who won himself a series of coaching sessions with Bodyboard Depot so he can hone those skills and keep on winning! We know there are more young riders out there, let’s see you at next year’s nationals!
At last the Open division riders were up in the fun conditions. The first heat, as with every heat now on the open tour division was stacked. Between them, they had already secured three titles over the weekend, Ben Chandler had his work cut out against Prisk and Brabyn! Sam fresh from the under 18 final carried on his fine form. Prisk and Chandler gambled and paddled out to the Wall whilst Brabyn opted for the “V”. Sam Brabyn opened with a tight spin before existing with speed and throwing a tidy roll off the next section. He set his rail again and boosted a sweet ARS to finish, all that within 2 minutes of the horn starting the heat. That ladies and gentlemen is how to start your heat. He wasn’t done yet. Showing just how well developed this young man’s riding has become, Brabyn took a right which didn’t look to offer much yet somehow popped an air reverse, fully rotated in the air. The heat was his leaving Prisk in second and sending Chandler into the repercharge.
There were no major upsets in the next two heats with Dan Skajorowski, Aaron Dinham, Ross Littlejohns and James Trevenna all progressing to the quarter finals.
The conditions took a serious turn for the worse so despite strengthening winds the decision was taken to move to Porthtowan were larger waves could be found. It wasn’t pretty but it certainly offered competitors more options even if they did have to endure a beast of a paddle out. Again the heats went to form with Barber, Tim Brown, Remi Geffroy and Tyler Littlejohns all progressing through their heats well. The final heat of round one included Jack Johns, Dave Speller and Phil Le Neveu. In the now quite horrible conditions the riders still found some heavy sections with Speller landing a sweet ARS off a seemingly impossible section. Johns was hot on his tail and very comfortable in the difficult surf also making some lofty lip manoeuvres stick.
From here the event should have moved onto the repercharge round. However, with the tide dropping, the wind gusting to near gale force making for large tables of white water, the conditions went from bad to worse. Whilst the competitors were still able to find sections to post big scores the judges were in an almost impossible position. They couldn’t get close to the surf with enough elevation to see the riders clearly in the washing machine conditions. To be able to judge fairly and accurately it’s essential everything about each ride can be scrutinised. How was the timing to the lip, how clean was the landing, was it fully rotated before landing? So many questions to ask to be able to do each ride justice and give a score. The event was called to a halt as conditions back at Portreath were checked again and a better vantage point at Porthtowan identified. Neither was found. The BBC exec went back to the ethos of the Tour, “good bodyboarding in good waves”. It was hard to justify this in the conditions we were currently in.
The decision was announced to the competitors and we thank you all for your cooperation. We appreciate the time, miles and money spent on attending a competition but to continue would have been a backwards step. It is hoped we can identify good conditions in the coming weeks and try yet again to deliver a competition in good bodyboarding waves.
Congratulations to everyone who took part in the event. Thanks to all of our sponsors – Bodyboard HQ, Auto-Sleepers, Alder, NMD, CW Harwood and supporters The Blue Bar. We’ll see you next time and see if we can break the swell curse! By now you will all know that Monday, just 24 hours after the contest was called off, was pumping!