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VIDEO: Surfing flash mob hits Saunton for film project

By North Devon Journal  |  Posted: April 04, 2013

JOUSTING: Vicky Burley and Ben Haworth at Saunton. Picture: Wavecrest Photography

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Rob Tibbles

EASTER is traditionally about family and friends getting together to celebrate and feast after the abstinence of lent.

But many families with a surfer among them would have been looking at an empty place setting over the last week as quality waves hit the North Devon coast.

A major Atlantic low delivered solid, frigid swell, with our exposed beaches copping some serious waves.

With winter weather dragging on into spring, it seemed coastal businesses would see a shocking start to the 2013 season.

It was still quiet, with visitor numbers well down, but the influx of surfers keen to test their mettle helped take the edge off things.

Not that the surfing was easy, as the sea temperature dipped to 6.5C (44F) – colder than for many years – according to the Bideford buoy.

Aside from that, it was a pretty awesome weekend with barrels galore and plenty of tales to tell in the pub.

It was good to see the RNLI guys back on the beach.

When the conditions are so challenging and there is such a range of ability in the water, it is reassuring to know there is someone looking out for you.

Next time you see that RNLI pot on the shop counter, throw a few coins in – it will help no end.

While there were some serious waves to contend with, there was a bunch of jokers on the loose in the Saunton lineup on Saturday.

An array of superheroes, wigged weirdos and Hawaiian-shirted longboaders took to the water in a surf version of flash-mobbing.

The costumed surf shenanigans featured some of the UK's best longboarders along with eager crash-test dummies catching waves left right and centre and battling anyone who got in their way with foam bats.

Imagine medieval jousting on surfboards, in fancy dress, and you are starting to get the idea.

It was all part of a new surf film project.

Former British longboard champ Ben Haworth has been behind or involved with a number of popular online videos as well as the longboard film Devon Lanes And Longboards, which raised more than £5,000 for charity.

Working with respected North Devon rippers Beau Bromham, Stuart Campbell and Jordan Reed, among others, the team have been filming sections for an upcoming feature called Unite Surf Film, which is a look at the high performance end of surfing.

Ben said: "It's not going to feature gentle gliding to a Jack Johnson soundtrack.

"It's all about high-tempo performance riding on any size board.

"The fancy dress thing was a way of spicing it up and was hilarious.

"Vicky Burley, who is a kickboxing champ, was trying to mow me down and I was just hitting everything with my foam bat.

"After the fun, we headed up to Woolacombe and got some amazing waves – stand-up barrels."

Behind the camera, Pete Hill gave up surfing hours to stand on the rocks in the bitting wind and document the sessions.

"I can't believe how many waves he's had to give up to help get this project going," said Ben.

"He's so committed and I'm sure he can't wait to finish so he can dump the camera and get back to concentrating on catching his own waves."

PREDICTIONS of poor surf this weekend have forced British Longboard Union organisers to postpone the year's first event at Perranporth until April 20-21.

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