IMPORTED from Australia, surfboat racing is not for the faint-hearted, as the joke which follows it around suggests.
How do you recruit a crew? Line up the volunteers, throw bricks at them and pick the ones who don't duck.
To race in a surfboat you need to be unflinching as you row head-on into crashing waves, the front of your boat rising at times near to vertical.
As well as having a trace of Steve Redgrave and Floyd Mayweather in you, it helps if you have some of Rebecca Adlington and Usain Bolt too.
"It's like a blood sport for spectators," said Croyde surfboat captain Chris Lane. "There is a lot of scope to be injured. They are big boats and there are lots of metal things that are going to hurt if they hit you.
"It is without doubt a dangerous sport. The risk of injury puts a lot of people off."
So it is a sport for hard men.And women.
"It's very physical and you have to be strong and powerful," said Croyde women's crew member Jo Carter. "You get lots of knocks, bangs and bruises.
"It's an adrenalin sport through and through, something either you love and want to come back to for more or you get scared and run a mile. You have to be gutsy – if you don't like to be scared it's not for you."
When Mike Bushell, the BBC sports presenter, tried it he referred to it as "extreme rowing" and concluded it was "one of the most exhilarating, nerve-jangling rides I've ever had". There was, he added, "so much to think about and potentially so much that can go wrong".
Such as boats being turned over, rowers tipping out and even the coxswain – or sweep, to use surfboat terminology – ending up in the sea and having to swim home, as happened to Lane when the latest round of UK Surf Rowers League was staged at Westward Ho! on Saturday.
All of which could be the consequence if just one crew member so much as fails to pull his trunks up tightly, almost indecently, into his bottom, so the skin of the buttocks slide on the seat.
"If you haven't done that you will find they start to catch and the minute you go out of sync on the boat it becomes hard to steer, hard to row," said Lane. "It is not like rowing on a lake, where the worst that is going to happen is you will fall out of the boat.
"If you catch a crab here (fail to release the oar from the water, leaving it to act as a brake) you can get a handle through your teeth or get thrown out. Bear in mind that if you are 400 metres out and go off the side or capsize you have got to get back in."
It is not the kind of sport you expect to discover on a train from Tiverton Parkway to London. Not like Hannah Makepeace did.
She was travelling to check out potential universities when somebody she knew through surf lifesaving sat opposite her.
"She asked if I wanted to get into surfboat racing," said Hannah. "I didn't even know what it was.
"But I liked surf and I liked the idea of rowing because I had always enjoyed watching it in the Olympics. Together they sounded a good combination and I said I would give it a go."
Learning the basics in the calmer waters of Ilfracombe harbour, Hannah soon took to it and now, at 20, she is the youngest member of the Croyde women's crew, the Cougars.
It has been suggested to her she might like to Google "surfboat carnage" to see the sport at its most frightening. So far she has resisted. "I don't want to put myself off," she said.
This column, though, could not resist and found footage of boats flipping over, crew members flying through the air like pilots out of ejector seats and even one figure on the shoreline disappearing under a boat as big breaking waves fast-tracked it sideways onto the beach.
But ask Lane if he can think of any serious injuries locally and the worst he can come up with is "one of our rowers nearly lost three fingers when he put his hand on the gunwale and an oar guillotined onto his fingers. But we saved his fingers and he's all right now."
Perhaps it helps confidence if one of your members is a surgeon. Last year the men's crew, the Croyde Kangaroos, were knocked into shape by Tom Hanna, a surgeon who had transferred from Cornwall to Barnstaple.
A former flatwater international rower and holder of European and UK Championship surfboat gold medals, he brought experience in rowing and coaching, enabling Croyde's men to finish third in the UK League.
On Saturday, though, Croyde placed last of four crews in all three of their races. They had their reasons.
When you lose three of your four regular rowers and the replacements have raced only once between them what do you expect?
"Two have been pulled away working and one is doing safety cover for the World Triathlon Series (Grand Final) in Hyde Park," said Lane.
"Chris Carter, Jo's husband, is regular crew and we have three guys from Exeter University who are flatwater rowers and we are trying to encourage them into surfboat rowing."
Carter said: "It was difficult because although they are proper rowers they are used to flatwater rowing and have got a different stroke set – nice long flowing strokes – different to that which we have here, which can get haphazard because of the waves."
Races begin with each crew of five – four rowers and a sweep – launching the boat through the waves from shallow water. They turn at a buoy 400 metres from shore and return to shallow water, at which point the bow jumps out and sprints up the beach, usually some 50 to 80 metres, to touch a flagpole marking the finish. Each race usually lasts about seven minutes.
Six clubs attended. Joining hosts Croyde were three from Cornwall – Perranporth, Portreath and Porthtowan – and two from Wales – Llantwit Major and Newport.
Porthtowan proved the strongest men's team, Perranporth the best of the women.
Croyde Cougars, comprising Makepeace, Carter, Lucy Maull, Jess Underhill and Lane as sweep, avoided a full set of third and last places from their three races by taking second in their final outing.
"We beat Porthtowan – a great result," said Carter, even if Porthtowan were architects of their own downfall, cutting inside the buoy and having to turn around to take it a second time.
Croyde Surf Lifesaving Club, of which the surfboat section is part, is the only club in Devon participating in the sport after Saunton's boat was destroyed by an arson attack.
The boats are only made in Australia where the first race was held during Manly Carnival, Sydney, in 1908.
The winners were Little Coogee (Clovelly) but history does not record whether they picked their team from a line-up of volunteers who stood tall in the face of flying bricks.
* At the North Devon Journal we believe we cover as many sports as any other weekly newspaper in the United Kingdom.
As part proof, Match of the Week this week features its 50th sport since the column was introduced in December 2009.
The sports are: angling, archery, athletics, badminton, banger racing, basketball, BMX, bowls, boxing, chess, clay pigeon shooting, cribbage, cricket, croquet, cycling, darts, equestrianism, football, gig rowing, golf, gymnastics, hockey, kitesurfing, model yachting, motocross, netball, new age kurling, pétanque, pigeon racing, point-to-point, poker, pool, rowing, rugby league, rugby union, Scalextric, scrambling, shooting, skittles, snooker, surfboat racing, surf lifesaving, surf skiing, table tennis, tennis, tetrathlon, triathlon, volleyball, water polo, wrestling.
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