Huge interest in this year’s Jesus Surf Classic meant virtually all places were full with a week to go. A record number of entrants since the longboard division was given its own contest meant just under 150 competitors did battle at the traditional venue of Croyde bay over the weekend of 10 – 11 September.
Conditions meant some fantastic surfing in all the eight categories, and the dry sunny weather meant some top skateboarding action also took place on the mobile skatepark which Christian Surfers in conjunction with Christian Skaters had built.
This event is now one of the most established in the UK, occupying its early September slot, and is supported by a fantastic team of up to 100 Christian Surfers helpers from around the country, and supplemented by local church volunteers
Due to larger predicted conditions on the Saturday, it was decided to hold over all the U12’s division, and both women’s division until the Sunday, which meant 34 heats were planned for the Saturday, and a huge thanks to all the contestants for getting to all their heats on time.
On Saturday by 8.00am check in time, all was set for what we hoped would be a great day of Surf and Skateboard action centred around the Parkdean car park (North end of Croyde). Loads of enthusiastic competitors gathered, and once the overnight rain had cleared, the day did indeed turned dry and sunny, so as well as the action in the water, the skatepark was built.
Surf on the Saturday was a solid 4-6ft with some tricky conditions for some of the younger divisions, but with light winds, every competitor did brilliantly, with even the youngest surfers pulling off some big manoeuvres
Once the sun shone, action on the ‘pop up’ skatepark began, with over 40 entered into the Big Move comp. The standard of skateboarding was fantastic, and the Christian Skaters team, ran a really professional and fun event. Prizes were handed out, and top performers including Sam Heard in the younger category. Local youth worker Chris Coombs, also shared about life as a skateboarder and his Christian faith at the presentation.
Back in the water, the twin peak heats had been completed, and as the swell and tide pushed in there was some excellent surfing throughout the afternoon. After a long but very enjoyable day, heats for the day were completed around 5pm.
Sunday was all about Semi, and finals, and the complete run of the U12’s and ladies’ categories. Surf started clean, offshore and in the 3-4ft range, which was ideal. As the day drew on, the wind picked up from the South, and strengthened, but despite this and a growing swell, the surfing was of the highest quality.
After a further 30 heats were completed on the Sunday, the presentation took place in bright sunshine outside the contest marquee. The first award was handed out to Phil Williams (Contest Director) who has headed up Christian Surfers for the last 20 years, and the CS team had donated for a one off hand crafted 10ft wooden surfboard from Daily Bread surfboards. In his thankyou speech
he said it would become his Severn bore board, and how stoked he was. He also paid tribute to the staff and volunteers who had assisted throughout the 20 years, and shared of his faith in God, and how that has helped him, even in making judgement calls for events such as this, he also shared of Christian Surfers passion to see the development of surfing throughout the UK
Some highlights of the winners, in the Groms (U12’s) Bertie Norman made it a really successful event for the Norman family by taking his first Jesus Surf Classic win, the keenly contested Masters division was won for the third time by Bude’s Paul Kirby, ahead of Torpoint ‘new boy’ to the event Rob Watson.
The Women’s open was very keenly competitive with a strong field battling through tough conditions to win the title and an increased amount of prize money of £300 (Same as the men’s open). Emily Currie surfed strongly throughout and took the title for the second year running, ahead of Ellie Turner (15 years old) who also surfed superbly throughout.
Always great to get new category winners and this was the case this year for the Jesus Surf Classic 2016 men’s champion, Brauntons Will Bailey, not only took the U18’s trophy, but doubled it up with the Open winner title, a fantastic achievement, as he heads of to the World Junior games in the Azores.
Some other key winners included a double victory for Budes Stanley Norman, in the U14’s & U16’s, ahead of Noah Capps and Seth Morris respectively and Ellie Turner retaining her women’s under 18 trophy, ahead of Newquays, Mischa Maguire.
The perpetual ‘Spirit of the event’ memorial trophy to remember Phil Pechonis, who passed away in 2014, was presented this year to the Sam Hearn, a great win on the skatepark, plus two final placings, but above all a smile on his face throughout the entire weekend, which is what this award is all about.
Also a special mention to the two dutch surfers who travelled all the way from the Hague and returned straight after the finals. They both reach the Mens and Womens open finals respectively, so well done Kasper Hamminga and Dominga Valdes.
This year for the first time there was also live music acoustic sets throughout Saturday with some very talented local musicians, thanks to CS North Devon for organising that.
All in all, a hugely enjoyable weekend, 64 heats run, over £2100 of prize money given out, mobile skatepark and competitors and supporters well fed with fresh Crepe, fresh cakes and of course the BBQ.
A huge thanks to RNLI, Parkdene, Christian Surfers, Christian Skaters, Hotdoggers for use of the judging tower, St John Ambulance, and so many of the local community and church members for supporting this event, and of course God for providing waves, sunshine and keeping everyone safe. Next year’s land mark 25th event has been pencilled in for the weekend of September 9th & 10th 2017 – Don’t miss out.