by Phil Williams
"Last weekend was amazing! I had reservations about attending the Jesus Surf Classic event put on by Christian Surfers UK, these were due to me not being religious. However, I can say, hand on heart, that the event was one of the best run, good value, super fun surf contests I have ever been to! Well done to Christian Surfers UK & all the volunteers that made it happen. Me & my son hope to be there next year – Thanks"
Quote on Facebook from stoked attendee
Surf predictions for this year's 23rd Jesus Surf Classic it's fair to say were pretty changeable, ranging from big and onshore to flat, so organisers had their work cut out making the correct timely calls. However as ever the Christian Surfers team pray into guidance for these events and felt the right decision was to call the event on, during the weekend September 12th and 13th.
This year demand to enter was unprecedented, with over 150 surfers applying, which meant sadly some had to be disappointed, but the team were able to accommodate 140 competitors in the eight categories.
This event is now one of the most established in the UK, occupying its early September slot, and is supported by a fantastic team of up to 100 Christian Surfers helpers from around the country, and supplemented by local church volunteers
On Saturday by check in time, all was set for what we hoped would be a great day of surf and skate action centred around the Parkdean car park (north end of Croyde). Loads of frothing groms, and enthusiastic competitors gathered, but the weather was not the best with driving rain until around 11am, when skies cleared, the sun shone, and the contest was well underway.
Surf on the Saturday was predicted to be onshore in the 3–5ft range, so the majority of focus for day one was to complete the 'Open' division in both Men's and Women's category, as well as the over 35's 'Masters'.
With such a huge field however and 62 heats to get through, earlier rounds of many of the other categories were also run.
Once the sun shone, action on the 'pop up' skatepark began, with over 40 entered into the Big Move comp. The standard of skateboarding was fantastic, and the Christian Skaters team ran a really professional and fun event. Prizes were handed out, and top performers including Sol Hawkins in the older category and Sam Heard in the younger category. Local youth worker Chris Coombs, also shared about life as a skateboarder and his Christian faith at the presentation.
Back in the water, the twin peak heats had been completed, and as the swell and tide pushed in there was some top surfing throughout the afternoon. After a long but very enjoyable day, the presentations took place at 5.30pm.
First award was a memorial trophy to remember Phil Pechonis who passed away last July, it was presented this year to the Knight family, who have inspired many. Taz and Peony with their travel experiences and contest results, whilst Matt and Susannah work tirelessly behind the scenes in the surf industry for Surfing GB, Croyde Surf Club and other events – Phil would have definitely approved, as his wife Megan did!
The keenly contested Masters division was won by Bude's Paul Kirby, ahead of Wales 'new boy' to the event Rudi Perrins-Davies.
The Women's open was very keenly competitive with a strong field battling through tough conditions to win the title and an increased amount of prize money of £250. Emily Currie surfed strongly throughout and took the title, ahead of Ellie Turner (14 years old) who was competing in three categories and surfed superbly. Local surfer and Boardmasters winner Peony Knight was third and Portsmouth Tehillah McGuiness 4th.
There was a new name on the trophy for Jesus Surf Classic 2015 men’s champion, yet another Bude resident, Liam Turner. A really strong performance beating Harry de Roth, local lifeguard Jordan Reed, and Robert Webster Blythe representing South Wales in the final.
Day one ended, with lots of smiling faces, tired limbs, and all the younger competitors frothing for Sunday.
Weather patterns had improved for Sunday so the skatepark remained an area of intense activity, but for the first time the 24 groms (U12's) had the opportunity to compete. Still a full day ahead, with light winds and smaller cleaner waves.
After a further 29 hotly contested heats new champions were crowned in five divisions. Some of the key winners included Emily Currie making it a double win taking the Women's Junior (U18) title, Stanley Norman, winning yet another final in the U12's.
Launceston's Barnaby Cox also had a fantastic event, winning both the U14, and U16 title.
The final final saw Max Payne and the rest of the U18's finalists ripping to bits the slightly ragged cross-offshore 3ft waves. Max took the title ahead of Will Bailey who landed a big air just 30 seconds after the final hooter was sounded.
All in all it was a hugely enjoyable weekend with 62 heats run, over £2000 of prize money given out and competitors and supporters well fed with fresh pizza, crepes, fresh cakes and of course the BBQ.
A huge thanks to RNLI, Parkdene, Christian Surfers, Hotdoggers for use of the judging vehicle, Christian Skaters, St John Ambulance, and so many of the local community and church members for supporting this event, and of course God for providing waves, sunshine and keeping everyone safe. Next year's event has been pencilled in for the weekend of September 10th and 11th 2016 – don't miss out!
Meanwhile Christian Surfers' next event as part of the Jesus Surf Series moves to Polzeath for the Jesus Longboard Classic on October 17th and 18th. Entries will soon be open via www.christiansurfers.co.uk/register.
By Monday morning it's fair to say the monsoon hit North Devon with 50mph onshore winds and huge seas. Were the organisers just lucky, or was a higher force at work? You decide!
To view more pictures from the event head to www.christiansurfers.co.uk. There is also a great little edit of Saturday's action below, thanks to Peter Pickford.