Every year the BBC tour suffers a bogie event, last year was the wedge, this year it looked like the “connies comp” was cursed. After two postponed events earlier in the year due to small onshore conditions, all hopes were pinned on a September showdown. Early September hadn’t been great with huge swells and big winds, we needed a 4ft swell and a light offshore wind. Well we got a 4ft swell and a light cross-shore wind, that’ll do!
A solid field of 28 entries assembled to assess the conditions and with some lumps rumbling down the reef the mood was positive, we’re going surfing! The first round open division hit the water with the luxury of just 3-man heats. Coming back from his Wedge title back in July, Jack Johns looked comfortable in the big conditions and his solid rail to rail surfing saw him post a double figure heat, nice opener. The first round shock came in the next heat as Rob Barber missed out on progressing by the narrowest of margins, an ambitious ARS attempt proving to be his undoing as local Jonny Meloy and the silky smooth Alex Wake went through. Not wanting to be out done in the “I never expected that” category, Chris Levi used his local knowledge to win his heat meaning the big man would be squeezing into a coloured rash vest for a second time that day.
With the first round completed it was back to conventional 4-man heats. Conditions continued to test everyone with a strong rip hauling the competitors towards Boobies and away from the reef. Mr consistent Damian Prisk managed to stay in front of the reef and proved he was on form with some text book looping rolls and fanning reverses.
The DK saw six of the best lining up for the testing conditions. After some epic photos popped up on the internet from some big conditions in recent weeks, much was expected from local man “Hilly”. His opening wave didn’t disappoint with a big driving bottom turn on a reef bombie rounded off with a snap under the lip. A couple of lower scoring rides were enough to back it up. South coaster Olly Medland also chose the left-handers coming off the reef and a couple solid carves on his backhand got him through. The second DK semi saw Porth Towan’s Alex Winkworth and last year’s nationals winner Seth Hamon joined by Rhys Beech. Mother Nature simply wouldn’t play ball and all three struggled to find anything to play with but the experience of the Porth Towan two got them through.
With the tide now full, the contest area moved to the middle of the beach where some bowling lefts and rights offered more than the reef. The first semi final in the open division saw competitors linking through some long rides from the outside to the inside bowl. Prisk and Winkworth both looked smooth and comfortable as they progressed into the final.
The second semi saw a boy become a man. The duo of Jack Johns and Alex Wake looked, on paper like an impossible mountain for sixteen year old Sam Brabyn to overcome but it looked like the recent Grom Comp training session had had an impact. Whilst Wake continued in his consistent form for the day, Johns struggled to find the waves he needed leaving the door open for Brabyn. A bowling left-hander offered a nice little section which would see many opting for a safe roll, not Sam, he went big with a textbook ARS, boom! Just minutes later he came within a fraction of a second and even bigger boost, right in front of Wake, ka-double boom! Brabyn through to his first tour final.
The first final at long last got the girls in the water which included new face to the BBC women’s tour, Megan Penny. Stalwart Clemi Hardy and current tour leader Olivia Smedley completed the trio. Clemi made her mark early in the heat with a solid reverse backed up with a punching roll through the end section. Olivia followed up with a couple of strong left hand set waves which put her firmly into second place. Contest newcomer Megan Penny had a nervy start but a bowling right saw her settle and quickly follow it up with some strong rail to rail carves seeing her leap-frog Olivia into second place. Olivia sat outside gambling on a big set wave but unfortunately it didn’t pay off and the much needed wave didn’t appear. Clemi sat further inside and was having a ball on the bowling right handers throwing gauging cutty reverses finished off with a roll, and that’s how the women’s final finished, Clemi in first, debutant Megan in second and more tour points for Olivia in third. The tour is still wide open going into the final event at the nationals.
The next final was the Drop-knee which was a mouth-watering mix of local knowledge, a current tour leader, the current national champion and a Winkworth. We always seem to have tough conditions for our DKers and this was no exception. Clean, peeling faces were hard to come by which made linking manoeuvres together difficult. Medland and Winkworth seemed to find the best of it with the red head fanning some sweet backhand carves putting him firmly in contention. However, Winky hooked into a couple of rights on his front side allowing him to drive off the bottom and into a couple of lip smashes which were cleanly executed. The final result was Seth Hamon in forth with Andrew Hill in third, Medland in second and Winky in first place.
And so to the open final, a mixture of ability and ambition spanning nearly twenty years entered the water and went their separate ways, game on! “DP” started positively with a long right hander featuring a tidy roll out side, a carving reverse through the flat section and finished off with another sweet roll. The day’s big paddle-outs seemed to have taken its toll on Winkworth who surfed back to back finals, the waves just wouldn’t come his way. Alex Wake looked like the only threat to Prisk and he found similar but slightly smaller waves which didn’t quite give the same opportunity to bust out the bigger point scoring moves. Brabyn stayed cool and surfed a solid heat but the lefts he longed for weren’t where he was and despite a late flurry it never really happened for him. Still a massive result though, he certainly rattled a few cages! With Prisk and Wake still both in contention it was wide open with five minutes left. Prisk spied a decent right and duly went to work, a couple of solid reverses and a huge ARS on the tricky inside section looked to have it in the bag but just to make double sure he ended the heat with another right this time featuring the reverse of the day and a cheeky but sick hack sending a sheet of spray over the back of the wave, job done!
Final positions, Sam Brabyn in forth, Alex Winkworth in third, Alex Wake in second and first place to Mr Prisk. It sets up a massive weekend at the nationals, who will take the 2011 tour title?
Huge thanks have to go to Jon Brookes at Pit Surf, St Merryn for sponsoring the event. Jon has put a lot into the sport in the last 12-months, supporting the BBC events and individual riders. Next time you’re up that way, pop in a say hello and see what treats you can find in store.