North Devon longboarders put on an impressive display in the final round of the British Longboard Union tour.
Three riders came home from Freshwater West in Wales as national champions.
The surf was small but it was enough to get the event going and the swell built while the sun shone.
It was Northam lad Jack Unsworth who had one of the biggest grins come the presentation as he picked up the under-16 and under-18 prizes.
The 15-year-old Kingsley School student has had a dream year on the tour, dominating the two junior divisions. His worst result was a second place in the under-18 division at Saunton.
“Winning the British title hasn’t really sunk in yet,” said Jack. “As top British junior, I will hopefully be selected to represent Team GB at the World Longboard Championships next year.
“Another highlight this year was coming third behind James Parry and Ben Haworth in a single-fin event, resulting in an invitation to surf in the Hipwigglers competition in Jersey. Unfortunately I couldn’t make it, but to be included with such talented longboarders was awesome.
“I’ve got to say thanks to my dad for taxiing me across the country and always being there to support me.”
Jack first started surfing at the age of 7 and, with the help of dad Rich, has not looked back since. His love of swimming and taking part in surf lifesaving have helped his fitness but his surfing has largely been self-taught.
He said: “I’ve not had any real coaching as such but Norman Wright, at Saunton Hotdoggers, has been giving me competition guidance and I have travelled a fair bit this year – Portugal, California and Sri Lanka – which I think has really helped me.”
That and surfing lots and lots. Talent combined with good fitness means Jack has the potential to go far, but at the moment he is concentrating on his next few comps, the first of which is the Jesus Longboard Surf Classic in Polzeath this weekend.
British team member Claire Smail was clearly a woman on a mission as she looked determined to retain her 2012 women’s crown. When Nicola Bunt, her only challenger for the title, fell in the quarter-finals it was done and dusted.
Old seadog Eric Davies clinched the battle in the grand masters division. His win on the day was enough to see him edge ahead of Colin Bright, with whom he had traded wins all year.
In the open division, world No 2 and 11-time European champion Ben Skinner has been uncatchable. Barnstaple’s Ben Howey, through consistent placings in finals throughout the year, took second overall – an awesome result.
With decent waves on the cards for this weekend, Woolacombe Boardriders have made the call to run the much-postponed Rip Curl Grunta League event on Saturday. The 8.30am check-in should see the guys in the water from about 9am as long as Josh Witts can get everyone rounded up in time.