Saunton Stingrays came 4th (Pic: UKSRL)
Surfboating at Saunton
By Spike Gaisford
Saunton Sands witnessed the thrills and spills of one of the world's ultimate team surfing sports, with the staging of the UK Open Surfboating Championships. And there was some South West success.
Saunton Sands in North Devon hosted the 2007 UK Open Surfboat Championships on 28 July - and the event was a big success despite the poor weather.
The two trophies stayed right here in the South West, with teams from Cornwall claiming the honours - Perranporth's Rebel Angels ladies crew and the Porthtowan Men's Blue Bali team.
Two local crews from Saunton, plus teams from Bude, Portreath, Porthtowan, Perranporth, St Agnes and Welsh crews from Llantwit Major were again out in force at this prestigious surf rowing event.
A total of 25 mens and 11 ladies teams lined up on the morning, prepared to battle it out for the coveted title of UK National Champions.
Men's winners, Porthtowan Blue Bali (UKSRL)
With a 2-3ft cold and rainy on-shore surf running, conditions meant that the competition was fairly level between the hardcore surf rowers of the South West and the newly initiated flatwater river rowers of some of middle England's best clubs.
Many a smile was to be seen on the faces of the 14 river teams from Nottingham, Twickenham, Cambridge, Plymouth, Marlow, London and Molesey.
As these rowers looking for an adrenalin rush experienced the thrills and sometimes spills of rowing in surf, the local surf crews at times were under pressure in the rounds.
The final of the ladies race, however, was dominated by the Cornish contingent. Perranporth's Rebel Angels, swept by Peter Gaisford, managed to retain the title for a second year running, storming home easily with bowgirl Anita Adams under no pressure on the run to the finish flag.
Great performances were had by the Bude Runners in second and Portreath Piranhas who had lost their sweep Dan Berriman to a knee injury after the rounds, were swept kindly into third by Porthtowan's up and coming Gary Walters.
The Porthtowan Showgirls, with JR at the helm, were just pipped into fourth place by Portreath and both teams had, along with Perran's Rebel Angels given outstanding performances throughout the day.
Bude Great Mates ladies team, fifth in the final, showed the Twickenham RC Sheilas team that they wouldn't be out-done in the end.
St Agnes Ladies almost have a rollover (UKSRL)
In the men's final it was always going to be a gun battle between Porthtowan's Blue Bali crew and last year's winners, the Twickenham Exiles (a crew of experienced Aussie surf rowers who work in London).
Racing was tight throughout the day but the Porthtowan boys guided by John 'JR' Richards steady sweeping, looked comfortable all the way back to the beach during the final and TWRC Exiles had to be content with second this year.
Portreath's Wreckers' steady determination they have shown all season paid off with an easy third, while Perranporth's Desperado's were denied fourth place by hosts, the Saunton Stingrays, who took advantage of the Perranporth boat broaching just off the beach.
The Desperado's took fifth and the scratch Perranporth/Portreath crew, swept by salty sea dog Nick Beringer, cruised home in 6th.
The event was sponsored by Pure Blue Water, Surfed Out, Aussie Bum, Skinners Brewery and European Surfboats Ltd. Thanks to the RNLI and Saunton Sands SLSC who provided water safety cover throughout the day.
Celebrations took place later in the evening at the White Lion pub, Braunton, and the trophies and medals were presented by the West Regions Rowing Council Chairman Ray Mallett.
This is a rapidly growing sport in Devon and Cornwall and if you are interested in taking part, please contact the UKSRL by email at: email@example.com
last updated: 30/07/07