North Devon has had a long association with the military, so it is not surprising to learn there are quite a few surfers based in the area.
A soldier from Barnstaple is helping spread the sport’s popularity across the regiments as well as looking to take on the might of the Americans in their own backyard.
Based at RMB Chivenor, Captain Joe Robinson is secretary of Army Surfing. With more than 150 members, it is among the biggest surf clubs in the country and the membership looks set to carry on growing.
“Surfing has been identified as an important sport that fits our ethos,” said Joe, who was originally from Barnstaple and was posted back to North Devon after finishing at Sandhurst in 2009.
“It can be risky and it really pushes boundaries but it is ultimately rewarding.”
In July, Joe wrote to the American Embassy about organising a visit to the United States.
The result was an invitation to compete against the United States Marine Corps at Del Mar Beach in California as part of the Red Bull Rivals series in March.
“Before the competition we’ve got a 13-day training camp with the guys from Pendleton Marine base (in California),” said Joe.
“It’s going to be a big challenge for us but we’re focused and determined to do well and looking forward to building relations with the US Marines.”
Two North Devon businesses have stepped up to support the team, with Surfed Out and Dryrobe supplying equipment and clothing. They have also had coaching from Great Britain juniors coach Damon Beveridge
Glenn Harris, of Surfed Out, said: “Myself and (co-owner) Matty John have been serving soldiers and we appreciate how hard these guys work.
“Being able to support the team in such a high-profile event is a real privilege.”
Gideon Bright, the founder of Dryrobe, said: “It is high praise that, after testing our products in the UK, Army Surfing are taking them out to California to compete in an international event.”
Joe said: “The generosity
has been overwhelming. The Army surf team is much better prepared thanks to their support, for which we are hugely grateful.
“We have a tough competition ahead – to beat the United States Marines on their patch, in the world-class waves of southern California – but we relish the challenge and are determined to deliver a first-rate performance.”
Woolacombe and Saunton beaches got the community clean treatment at the weekend and again local surf clubs were at the forefront.
Woolacombe Boardriders and Saunton Hotdoggers marshalled the troops with the support of Surfers Against Sewage and a host of family, friends and other beach users.
The Boardriders finished the day in the Red Barn for their annual meeting, which saw the official crowning of 2013 champions.
The AGM season continues at 7pm on Saturday with Croyde Surf Club hoping to attract more volunteers. Visit croydesurfclub.com for more information.
The Museum of British Surfing in Braunton continues to bring top-drawer surf movies to North Devon.
Monday will see the showing of Waveriders, which tells the story of the evolution of surfing in Ireland and the birth of the big-wave scene on the wild west coast.
There will also be the chance to see premieres of two new shorts following recent Portuguese big-wave exploits and the Irish Hercules mayhem of Andrew Cotton, put together by award-winning filmmaker Mikey Corker, from Braunton.