Christian Surfers UK have been supporting the UK Pro Surf Tour in various was for over 10 years and in that time we have formed a strong partnership and opened an opportunity to serve the professional surfing community. On 28 October Phil, David, Andy and Robin traveled to Surf Snowdonia to support the Tour for the second UK contest held at the artificial wave pool, the first of it’s kind in the UK. Phil and David were on the judging panel and Andy was official photographer, whilst Robin was there to support and even ended up in the contest! The contest was a great success attracting a large crowd at the venue and an even greater one through the live stream, with thousands reached.
After a qualifying round the top 8 men and top four women went head to head in the knock-out round, eventually being won by Reubyn Ash and Emily Currie, both from Bude.
The next day the CS crew spent the day driving North to Thurso in Scotland to make the most of the two days before the next contest. It was amazing to take in the remote and beautiful North Coast of Scotland as we stopped at the various beaches and finally got a surf at Strathy and Farr Bay. Having the two days gave us time to bond as a team and enjoy Phil’s new van!
The contest in Thurso has seen some spectacular waves over the years, however the forecast this year threw up some challenges. At first light the contest staff and competitors gathered at Thurso East and were greeted by far from ideal conditions, with very small on-shore waves crumbling over the reef. The contest was put on-hold whilst a back up spot was found, which ended up being Dunnet Bay, which faces NW and was picking up more swell. After a hasty set the contest was on and streaming live. With David, Phil and Andy all working on the contest it was down to Robin to keep everyone fueled with hot drinks, soup and bacon sandwiches. We were hoping to be joined by Michael from Glasgow but his journey North was hindered by car trouble. The small cleanish waves were ideal for the grom divisions with the U12s U14 Girls, U16 Girls and U18 Girls all running through to completion. Special mention has to go to Alys Barton for winning all three Girl division and going home with an arsenal of Nerf guns.
It was a challenging day for the groms, but they performed amazingly well in some stunning Scottish scenery. Special mention has to go to Robin too for doing such an amazing job of the catering single handed, Michael finally made it by the end of the day and joined us for the rest of the trip.
Day two threw up a similar dilemma to the first with Thuro East, the prime contest location, not delivering the required waves a back up spot had to be found. Dunnet Bay was too big and on-shore so we eventually ended up at Melvich beach, 30 miles West of Thurso. It was a mission getting all the gear from the car park, through the dunes and on to the beach but the effort was worth it. The waves were small but clean, breaking over a cobble reef in the river mouth, perfect for the U14, U16 and U18 boys and the Women divisions. It was a great scene on the beach with all the competitors and parents huddled on the sand and the CSUK gazebo providing a bit of shelter from the strong winds and a base for Robin and Michael to provide hot refreshments. The finals were hotly contested with Sam Hearn surfing beyond his years and taking the U14 final. Barnaby Cox surfed amazingly well all day but was beaten to first place by Noah Capps in the U16 final and Lucy Campbell took the womens title for the forth year running.
The Third and final day started with the customary gathering at Thurso East, this time to be greeted by 8ft faces and 40-50mph winds. A few of the competitors gave it a go and caught waves but conditions were too ugly and we relocated to Sandside for the third location of the contest. Sandside sits opposite Duneray power station and has a reef tucked in behind a harbour. As the big swells travels East it wraps round 90 degrees to hits the reef producing clean hollow waves. It was so good to finish the contest in great waves with the Mens division and U18 final still to complete. The move to Sandside gave the competitors a great opportunity to showcase their talent and the standard of surfing was really high, with barrel riding mixed with explosive turns. Luke Dillon came through a close final to win the Mens division and Logan Nical gave an impressive performance to win the U18s.
As the day progressed I was able to reflect on the opportunity Christian Surfers UK has serving the UK Pro Surf Tour and this community of surfers in such a remote setting. With Myself sheltering on the beach with the judges and Andy tucked in behind a rock taking photos, Phil with the contest crew beach marshaling and Robin and Michael, joined by local host Stuart, in the car park serving hot drinks and food to everyone with heavy winds and horizontal coming in from all angles. Through years of serving, Christian Surfers is now integrated into this surfing community and an integral cog in the wheels that make it happen. Through all this we have been able to sow into peoples lives and take openly about our faith with a community that may not have encountered Church or Christianity in any form.