Team GB at the Sport Zone ISA World Bodyboard Games, El Fronton, Gran Canaria 2011

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The ISA World Bodyboard Games has been on the grapevine for a couple of years but finally in 2011 it came to fruition, and what a way to start! The Spanish Surfing Federation took the lead and hosted an incredibly professional event from start to finish. From the opening ceremony in the town of Galdar where all teams paraded through the streets to the town square for a massive kick start, to the final presentations on the shoreline in front of the epic waves of La Guancha it felt good to be a bodyboarder.

Team GB were selected following a successful British Tour and Nationals competition. The only hiccup was junior selection Steve Hall who in training for the event bust his arm big time landing a huge backflip. Devastation for Steve and the team but that opened the door to the biggest event of young Sam Brabyn’s life; his eyes were on stalks for the full seven days. You should have seen his face when Hubbard jumped in the car and joined the team for dinner, and when PLC was hanging out in his room at the hotel!

The opening day was held at the reason the competition was in the Canary Islands, the infamous El Fronton; a shallow bone crushing wave that takes no prisoners. But if you can tame this beast of a wave the possibilities for bodyboarding are endless. Damian Prisk was up first in the very first heat so with the world watching he got down to business. First wave comes Damo’s way; he dropped into a ledging right-hander, scooped under the lip for a quick barrel and hit the lip for a text book ARS, the Brits have landed and the crowd went absolutely mental!

The quality of surfing from all teams was excellent; it was so good to see teams like Italy and Israel getting stuck in too. The event proved to be a tough one for Team GB with many falling into the repercharge after the first or second heat making the number of heats they had to surf through grow significantly but the double elimination format (a luxury for week-long competitions) kept everyone in it and interested.

Highlights have to include Winkworth’s heroic performance on the Knee at Fronton. No-one surfs a stand-up at Fronton, imagine trying to DK this beast! Alex gave it a massive effort and according the Team Espana he was the champion of Fronton on the Knee that day, does praise get any better? Huge credit must also go to Sam Brabyn and Olivia Smedley for their brave efforts in waves it’s fair to say neither have even seen before let alone competed in. They have both walked away fired up, watch these two and expect great things.

Despite not making it to the final day of competition Jack Johns was the head turner for the team. He was the first to post a 9 point ride in the competition and pretty much invented a new move dubbed the “Jackpot” by team manager Alex Ledbrooke. Jack owned that particular heat with two sevens and a nine. Deep barrels and that crazy tweaked out flip had the world of bodyboarding frothing. Aussie Team manager Danny Bycroft blogged on Riptide’s website that evening saying, “The crowd was treated to a schooling in smooth barrel riding by the UK’s Jack Johns”. (http://www.riptidemag.com.au/world-tour/5194-day-two-of-the-isa-games)

All in all it was an amazing week. The team had a great experience and Ledbrooke was picking the brains of everyone learning what he can bring back to the BBC Tour as well as getting his mug on the webcast and an invite to go back next year! Team GB finished in a respectable 14th place out of 21 teams. That will only improve in the coming years.

Thanks to all the team sponsors; Cornwall College, British Bodyboard Club, Auto Sleeper Group, Smith and Williamson, Bodyboard HQ, Bodyboard Depot, Pit Surf Shop, NMD Boards, Corona Extra and Collection House.