It was October, the day was in its youth and emerging over the edge of the hammock was a clean set of well formed waves rolling onto the sands of the beach that is all too familiar.
Freshwater West, a place of rest for a beloved house elf and a setting for Robin Hood to fearlessly fight French forces, it was now the stage for the Ride Surf Kayak British Championships. Luckily for me it was also an open championship and after a quick and easy registration through tournr.com and a favour from Tim at Ride Kayaks, I had a choice of boat and a place in the competition.
At this point you, dear reader, should know that I am getting my excuses in early. My experience is lacking, I was in a first round heat with former champions and paddling a newly borrowed Ride Zenith. Round 1 saw me carving, spinning, and power flipping my way into a third position and into the repechage to fight it out for a chance to continue. I was, however, chuffed with this result. After swapping into a Ride Eclipse, and giving it everything, I managed to surf my way into second place. My twelve minutes in the surf however, resulted in no more than an early exit from the competition due to my points being docked for interference – a hard lesson learned.
The Saturday's heats ran smoothly, and were a great opportunity to watch and learn from the country's finest, enjoying their time on the waves. Sunday gifted even better waves to those still in the competition and made for spectacular finals, with gold medals for Chris Hobson in both High Performance and International Class.
The weekend was a friendly, welcoming introduction into the world of goat boating, with lovely clean waves thrown in for good measure. It was easy to see that many were there just to enjoy the surf and the shoreline atmosphere.
The way the contest works means that you can sit with the judges and learn what it is they look for. As they are in rotation it is very easy to pick up a wide range of opinions on what good surf kayaking should look like and discuss whether 'Welsh cakes' are just called 'cakes' when in Wales (definitely not, it turns out).
It seems that a Championships such as this is a great way to get into surf kayaking. You will find people to go surfing with and learn from, and see the different classes of surf kayak displayed at their very best. It is worth noting if you do happen to bow out early there is always the opportunity for a free surf further down the beach to enjoy trying to pull moves the pros seem to do effortlessly.
I am well and truly hooked on this thing called surf kayaking and with the unreliable river flow inland it is good to know there is more opportunity for simply messing around in boats – Martyn
Open HP 1. Christopher Hobson 2. Tim Thomas 3. Tom Iggleden
Open IC 1. Christopher Hobson 2. Tim Thomas 3. Paul Robertson
Ladies Open HP 1. Aisling Griffin 2. Emma Fishleigh 3. Bethan Thomas
Ladies Open IC 1. Aisling Griffin 2. Emma Fishleigh 3. Bethan Thomas
Junior Open HP 1. Jack Davies 2. Mathew Lamont 3. Lloyd Jackson
Junior Open IC 1. Mathew Lamont 2. Jack Davies 3. Lloyd Jackson
Masters Open HP 1. Marc Woolward 2. Gary Adcock 3. Huw Jones
Masters Open IC 1. Gary Adcock 2. Huw Jones 3. Ewen Arkison
Wave Ski 1. Jem Howe 2. Michael Orsmond 3. Sam McQueen Jones