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Storm-lashed Boardmasters festival battered but unbowed

By North Devon Journal  |  Posted: August 13, 2014

Men’s open winner, Australian Jock Barnes, in action at Boardmasters. Surfing went ahead, although music and BMX events were curtailed due to the poor weather. Photo: Tyron Mackenzie

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Organisers of the country’s premier surf and music festival held in Newquay have hailed the event as a resounding success despite having to call a premature end to proceedings because of the weather.

The five-day Boardmasters event saw revellers sent home early from the music site at Watergate Bay due to high winds and rain caused by the tail end of Hurricane Bertha.

The BMX and skateboard competition at Fistral Beach in Newquay were also cancelled on the last day due to the conditions.

However, surfing went ahead and produced some amazing results, including a home win, said surf commentator Nick Williams.

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He said that Sunday started with “super tough conditions on the low tide with the surfers way out.

“We needed every pair of eyes from the judges tent to identify every surfer in the line-up.

“Nevertheless we got through three divisions, the Davidoff Cool Water Longboard Pro, Sungod Womens Open and the Mens Open.

“Ultimately with the tide filling in during the day, conditions were a little bit more predictable and we once again saw a fully packed beach with capacity crowds.”

Cornish surfer and European champion Ben Skinner lifted the Longboard trophy while the women’s division saw the favourite and defending champion, Keshia Eyre, run away with the competition in the end with a well-deserved win.

Mr Williams said the men’s open was simply “awesome”

“The stage was set for something untouchable in terms of an all international affair as we watched both Aussies, Jock Barnes and Noah Lane, compete,” he said. The former triumphed in the contest with Alan Stokes from Cornwall as runner up.

The skateboard competition final was unable to take place due to high winds and results were taken from qualifying rounds with Joe Howard declared victor, and Jed Cullen and Jake Anderson in second and third place respectively.

It is estimated that up to thousands of people attended Fistral Beach to see the competition while a total of 100,000 people went to Watergate Bay to see the music event headlined by Chase & Status and hip hop legend Snoop Dogg.

The last day of Boardmasters was the most high-profile casualty of wind and rain caused by the remnants of Hurricane Bertha.

Campers endured a torrid night with dozens of tents blown away or damaged while others packed up and left early.

A spokesman said it was a tough choice, but safety must come first.

“Our guests, staff and performers’ safety is our main concern and we have decided that the magnitude of the conditions is too severe for the arena site to be opened.”

Andrew Topham, festival director and co-founder of VisionNine, the company which organises the Boardmasters festival, said that this year’s event was the biggest yet after the company was allowed to increase capacity.

Boardmasters, which started in 1981 as a surfing competition, now combines action in the water with music, attracting thousands of people from across the country.

Every year the five day festival generates a massive boost of around £30 million for the local economy, employing 2,500 staff, with half of these recruited locally.

Crime rate at event fell by 25% this year

Police have said crime surrounding the Boardmasters event was down by more than a quarter this year.

There were 22 arrests in the Newquay area between Thursday and Sunday, with five from the Watergate Bay music festival. A total of 52 crimes were recorded between midnight on August 7 and 10.30pm on August 10.

The majority of these crimes were linked to the evening and night time economy, such as thefts and minor assaults.

Overall this was a reduction from 72 recorded crimes from Boardmasters 2013.

A police spokesman said: “Considering the number of visitors to the Boardmasters music festival and also to Newquay town, these are relatively low crime figures, and reflect the general good behaviour of the vast majority of persons visiting Newquay for this event.”

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