MEMBERS of Saunton Sands Surf Lifesaving Club have been celebrating after proudly hosting the Surf Lifesaving GB 2013 Ocean Championships.
In its 50th year, the club staged the masters, youth and nipper competitions.
Months of planning culminated in a fantastic week of sport on Saunton beach – and Putsborough, where the first day of competition had to be relocated because of a stormy swell.
Toby Ansdell, the club chairman, said: "We wanted to bring this event to North Devon to celebrate our 50th year and to show the surf lifesaving community what a fantastic destination North Devon and its beaches are.
"Saunton Sands Surf Lifesaving Club was able to host the event thanks to the generous permission of Christie Estates and the cooperation and support of the Saunton traders.
"We have more than 200 members and many worked tirelessly to prepare competition arenas, move equipment, bake cakes, provide water safety cover, officiate in events and make tea.
"It was a true team effort and, in the spirit of the Olympic Games Makers, the volunteers made the event the success it was."
Alongside the competition, club members provided volunteer lifeguard cover, helping educate the public and keep them safe in the water.
Home advantage helped the North Devon clubs from Woolacombe, Croyde, Bideford and Saunton achieve fantastic results.
Woolacombe were crowned national champions to complete a clean sweep this year – the British and Devon pool and ocean titles.
Saunton's nippers were delighted to achieve fourth place – an improvement of four places and nearly 500 points on 2012.
James Johnson, the club's nippers coach, said: "Each and every one of them tried their best for the team – battling it out to get in to finals and racing for the line to get a place or two higher.
"It wasn't always about the glory of the medals but gaining points for the team. I'm so proud of all of them."
The youngest age groups – 8 and 9 years old – accounted for almost half Saunton's points total.
Lilly Wilson gained two golds and a bronze, Kitty Sampson a gold, silver and bronze, and Erin Fraser-Smith celebrated her ninth birthday with gold and silver medals.
Among the older nippers, Josh Pilkington won gold and silver, Sammi Watts silver and bronze, and Bebe Malek gold and silver.
Further individual medals went to Ella Fraser-Smith, Isaac Stephenson and India Martin with gold, silver and bronze respectively.
Although there were some impressive individual results for Woolacombe, some of the best and most exciting action came in the team races.
In the board relays, Woolacombe claimed five out of the possible six gold medals.
Individually, Nalani Whiteley and Bob Whittaker, both 12, took home medals from each of their races.
Keith Gammon, the Woolacombe coach, said he was impressed by the improvement the children had made this year.
The club's nippers thanked coach Michelle Gammon and all the coaches and parents who volunteer for the club.
Bideford Bay were delighted by the size of the team they were able to put out for the championships.
Conditions were perfect for the sea events with just enough wave to create excitement without the club's younger nippers being put off.
The team were ninth in the end, showing an improvement from 10th last year.
Mille Ayres, Sam Pyle, Sophie Evans and James Evans picked up gold medals.
Croyde may not have gone home with any medals but their team did enough to ensure the club finished 15th with 232 points.