Jesus Surf Classic 2012 “The 20th running of the Jesus surf classic turns out to be a true celebration of what God has done”
These last few weeks for the extreme sports missions’ organisation Christian Surfers UK has been incredibly busy with all with running to big outreach surfing competitions. Over 70 surfers entered the 6th Jesus Longboard Classic over the weekend in Polzeath on 6th-7th October, proving to be a huge success, and then moving on to the new dates for their celebratory 20th anniversary’ Jesus Surf Classic’ 13th – 14th October.
The Jesus longboard event, is a fantastic partnership based at the Tubestation Polzeath, which is an amazing venue, and this year on Sunday as normal surfers were invited for a very simple ‘surfers blessing’, which was a really special time. Many surfers were in church perhaps for the first time apart from at weddings etc. Organisers really felt that this was probably the most powerful time they had seen during this event.
For the first time ever the original dates for the Surf Classic were changed from its traditional September dates, due to lack of swell, but with over 130 competitors entered for the new dates it was always going to be a busy but great event for the 20th.
As the organisers set up the contest infrastructure on Friday night, Croyde continued to be hit with massive rain showers, leaving for a very soggy contest site, and indeed marquee. The organisers and volunteers who met on Friday night, gave thanks for the previous 19 years, and prayed for a fantastic next two days.
Saturday morning dawned with the rain continuing, but competitors now arriving in high spirits, and being looked after with fresh coffee, bacon butties, and home-made cakes. After the initial hour of rejigging some of the draw due to one or two withdrawals, the surfing got underway at around 9 am with two peaks running for the first four hours.
Thankfully the vast majority of the heavy rain showers missed the judges and officials on the beach ( real answer to prayer ), and the surf improved from a smallish to 2ft onshore, up to 3 to 4 foot onshore by the time the final heat of the day got underway at around 5.30pm on Saturday.
Organisers managed to run 32 heats out of 50 on day one, including holding the Masters final in the late afternoon, and finishing up with the two open semi finals.
Highlights of day one included Paul Ashton winning his first Masters title (over 35’s )
as the team met on Saturday night to give thanks for that day’s events, there was a real sense that God had been working in so many ways, and that indeed it would be ways for the event on Sunday The forecast for the Sunday was going to be smaller, but clean and with plenty of sunshine, so organisers were pretty excited for the final day.
As predicted Sunday dawned with clean 2 foot offshore waves, and bright sunshine, which began to dry out the site. All remaining categories were now either at the semi-final or final stages, and with the groms (under 12 is) setting the tone with some great surfing in the first couple of heats, the contest soon moved on to the finals which began early in the afternoon, just after low tide.
In the U12’s final Braunton's Gabe Ley took the title for the first time closely followed up by Garin Clay from Braunton.
Max Payne did really well in the Youth (U14’s ) final taking the win ahead of local up-and-coming surfer Will Bailey, with Angus Scotney third and George Hudson who have done so well in the Jesus Longboard Classic the week before, again showing his talents by taking fourth in this event.
By now the pushing tide had added some height the waves which was a great opportunity for Ed Smith from Liskeard to defeat Max Payne in the final of the under 16's.
Both the women's events had been hotly contested and there was a stacked under 18’s final with St Ives Tassy Swallow winning the under 18's, with strong competition from Lucy Campbell, Bude’s Emily Curry and local girl Laura Crane taking fourth.
The Junior title is always a very strong contested affair but this year Harry Timpson from Newquay dominated the final with a couple of big air reverses, with Budes Miles Lee Hargreaves taking second.
The women's final was again a great final to watch with all girls opting to head down to the left-hand side of the beach to pick off the predominantly left-handers, with Georgehams Peony Knight doing fantastically well with a strong performance to take her first ever Jesus surf classic women's title, and a nice cheque and trophy. Tassy was unfortunate not to replicate the under 18's result by coming second and again strong performances from Laura Crane third, and Lucy Campbell having a busy weekend in fourth.
The stacked open final took to the water at around 3 PM with Joss Ash and Harry Timpson entering the competition again after a couple years break up against Stuart Campbell and Jimmy Pearson. Joss decided to head down the left whilst the other three remained on the right-hand side, and up until midway through the heat that strategy appeared to be working, so was joined by Harry Timpson. However at that midway point Stuart Campbell took probably the wave of the day with three big re-entries and finished off with a large aerial which he landed perfectly, much to the appreciation of the crowd. He was able to hang on to the lead despite strong performances from Joss (2nd ) and Harry ( 3rd ) but unfortunately for Jimmy the waves never really came his way.
The action then moved back to the presentation marquee where a couple of hundred people packed in for what was a great celebration prize-giving, with many amusing speeches and also genuine thanks about what this contest had meant to so many people over the years.
Phil Williams (contest director) shared a little bit about some of the adventures that they had had during the running of this event, and some of the ways he believed that God has been gracious and blessed the event during its 20 years.
During this time the organisers had literally seen waves come from nowhere, and also God managing to calm the storm when all the weather forecasts said this would not happen, and also during this time Christian surfers UK have given out around thousand surfers Bibles to the competitors, with surfers coming to faith at various stages during the event's history . Mike Scott the only founding member of Christian surfers who have been to every single contest handed over the prizes.
Stu Campbell ( now ranked at number one in the UK pro surf standings) in his acceptance speech mentioned that he had been entering this competition since 1997, and in some respect launched him into his surfing career, so it was a fitting tribute that he took his second ‘Open’ title and a cheque for £400.
The only negative thing about the weekend had been the fact that we could not set up the skate Park due to the weather, however after a prize competition was run the two skaters with the biggest smiles had also won the skate deck and trucks.
Contest director Phil
Williams said afterwards “We wanted this event to be particularly special, so we invested even more into it this year, with around £2000 given way in prize money, and commemorative T-shirts and lanyards, we have tried to make it as good as any of the events we have ever run, and it's fair to say from the feedback received after the presentation, that the surfing community seems to have really appreciated the efforts, we are really keen to continue to support the future development of surfing at all levels, and thanks God for an amazing playground which we call the Ocean. Also just want to thank all the surfers, competitors, media, volunteers, industry friends and supporters for all their input over 20 years of this long-running event”
Christian surfers would like to thank so many people for their involvement in this event over the years, and this year that thanks includes Parkdean, the R NL I, Baggy surf Lodge, the cake makers who always support the event, the local church community, and obviously the 70 or so Christian surfers volunteer to give their time faithfully over the years to try and make this event a real Festival of the sport which we love. Also the surfers of Croyde for sharing the waves during the weekend.
Just after this event the Christian surfers volunteer team supported two big competitions in Porthcawl (South Wales) and then the team moved to help the UK professional surf tour with its most northerly contest in Thurso ( Northern Scotland )
Above all this was a thank God being faithful to provide us with the waves, the competitors, and the ability to put on an event for the last 20 years despite the economic pressures there are. For more details on the work Christian Surfers please log onto www.christiansurfers.co.uk or e-mail phil a_t christiansurfers d_o_t co d_o_t uk