The British longboard team has a damn good chance of medalling at the world games in Biarrtiz this week. We caught up with Elliot Dudley, Ben Howey, Emily Currie and Beth Leighfield to find out about preparation, hopes and dreams.

Elliot Dudley
Cardiff, Wales
Seventh in the World Cup 2009, former two times European champ, numerous Welsh and British champ, current BLU single fin champ and runner up in the Open.


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So, how are you feeling about qualifying for the worlds? It seemed like quite long drawn out process with the qualifying criteria changing multiple times. Being number one on the BLU single fin and two in the Open you must have felt you were in with a shout before they had a last minute shoot out for places? Are you relieved, stoked, did you feel much pressure? There’s a lot of fierce competition and passion out there for places.

It’s something that has been on my mind a lot since they announced the event in January. At first I thought I would be going as the Welsh representative but it soon became clear that it would be a GB team due to 2020 being an Olympic year. That’s the frustrating thing for the British longboarders as there are so many that are in with a shot at going; with the Home Nations upwards of 6 of us could have gone. I think much of the controversy around selection lay with the lack of a selection criteria, and once the selection criteria was decided there was hardly any time until the Worlds. I always thought I was in with a shot, going on form over the last year or so but I can understand why those who achieved great results last season would begrudge having to qualify again.

The thing I love about the British longboard scene at the moment is the massive talent pool on a truly global elite level. You have Skindog, Bearman on the Relik and WSL, Howey placing fifth in the ISA, Mike Lay out there cruising, Parry in the Duct Tape, Sam Crookshank and Conor Griffiths down at Noosa. Then in the BLU past European champs yourself and Sam Bleakley back in the mix with young guys like Jack Unsworth and Lewis Stritch, Jordan Zervas, Evan Rogers and Joe Hornbuckle is getting invites to log jams. Plus the women starting to make a mark on the ISA. What do you think makes GB a great hotbed of the sport.

It’s hard to say really, I think the UK has always out performed itself in the longboard world thanks to earlier guys like Guts Griffiths, Lee Ryan, Rich Balding and Minnow. They were taking on the best in the world in the nineties meaning that when we did the same we had no fear of the big names. The same applies today with the likes of Ben and Adam taking on the world’s best on the WSL and Relik tours. It gives us the confidence to know we can beat the Hawaiians, Californians, Aussies and Brazilians. The beauty of longboarding, and ultimately the reason i started doing it was that you could surf the 1-2ft days and have an absolute blast. This removes much of the disadvantage that the UK short boarders suffer in that you can get a lot of time in the water, year round.

What do you make of the ISAs focus on the Olympics seeing as longboarding isn’t included and probably won’t be for many years?
As I already mentioned i think it’s a shame for the UK as we have such a depth of talent. But the same applies for the USA/Hawaii where undoubtedly some big names have missed out. I think the distinction is political and part of the general agenda to get recognition for surfing in the Olympic movement but I think in this instance it’s been detrimental for the longboard world. Maybe in the future longboarding will make the Olympics and it will all be by the by, but we can only speculate.

The decision to run the British qualifiers only two weeks before the worlds preparation can’t have been ideal for what now is a contest against full time professional surfers. How have you been training, how have you managed to get time off work and how are you funding the trip?
To be honest that was my biggest frustration with the qualification process. In theory I could have made the case that I came second in the BLU tour last year so therefore I should have been selected anyway, but then again I felt it fair that everyone, including those that could not make events last year, should be in with a shot. As you say we all have other jobs and commitments, none of us are full time pros and it has proved difficult to organise the time off at the last minute.

I’m lucky in that I live close to the beach, so I get to surf before and after work if it’s on, although I often get skunked with the tides living in South Wales. I’ve really got the stoke back in the last few years, though. I’m like a grom again these days, getting in when it’s 1ft in mid January for example and this has paid off in terms of contest results. In terms of funding the trip, Minnow has been a legend with getting us some cash, discounts on the ferry through Brittany Ferries and free accommodation with Eurocamp in Bidart. Other than that I’ll be paying my way and I don’t begrudge doing that. Representing your country is the biggest honour you can achieve in sport and if I have to work some overtime to make up for it then so be it! Ultimately I’ll love every second.

I was chatting to Minnow the other day and he said you used to surf Biarrtiz a lot when you were younger. He said that experience that plus your ability to cross over style between the performance and single fin will out in really good stead. Are you feeing confident? Have you got any strategies? Who do you see as a major threat.
I went to the Cote Des Basques every summer with my family growing up so I have a lot of fond memories there. It’s pretty much where I started longboarding aged 10 and I spent many hours surfing with Antoine Delpero, Thibault Dussarat and Clovis Donizetti. There weren’t many groms on longboards back then so being there gave me the stoke and enthusiasm to keep getting better.

I’m a lot more pragmatic when it comes to contests these days than when I competed 10 years ago. I was always trying to surf the way I thought the judges wanted. Now I ride 9’8″ single fins and just do what the wave dictates, which from my experience is generally rewarded by the judges. The less you force things, the smoother you surf and the more critical your nose rides become. I’m really fortunate to have some of the best boards I have ever ridden at the moment. Matt Calvani at Bing has made me one of the best all around nose riders I have ever ridden and it seems that the criteria really favours committed nose rides and smooth footwork so if I can keep my head together there’s nothing to stop me getting decent scores.

The obvious favourites are the Delperos with it being their home break but you can never discount any of the main surfing nations as there are an abundance of amazing surfers all over the world. I’m sure Kai Sallas will be one to watch also.

Are you going for gold, or do you have goal for a final placement you would be happy with? Obviously Howey is bouncing off the walls right now and eager to better his fifth. Skindogs had silver. You have to feel confident of a good placing?

It’s a funny one because 10 years ago, when I was sponsored and surfing pretty much full time I would have said a final would be the goal. Ironically now I’m older and have no sponsors I’m a bit more honest. You don’t go to a contest to come runner up, so it’s Gold or bust.

Ben Howey
Kingsbridge South Devon
Fifth World Longboard champs 2018, fourth European Longboard tour 2018, BLU champ 2018.


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So you must be bouncing off the walls right now? What a year you are having!
What a year again! Last year was crazy enough… it looks like this year will contend with that! I have been surfing loads and feeling really good heading down to France to try and win some medals!

The process to get to this stage seems to have been really drawn out and probably very stressful for you. How’s that been?
Upsetting is probably a better description due to the decisions of a few individuals, however the people who actually care about this stuff displayed their devotion to our sport in quite an emotional day at the selection event. As you can imagine, as everything was pushed back so late the stress hasn’t stopped yet….Trying to organise travel and a team to compete and win medals in ten days is not the easiest of tasks, however Minnow has done a sterling job under very difficult circumstances and we leave on Thursday!

So I was saying to Elliot you are all up against mostly full time pro surfers these days. Is two weeks notice enough to prep for hopefully a better result and a world games final? Or are you pretty much a full time surfer being a student and all ha ha ha (Congrats on the doctorate by the way!)
It is all super late notice, but I have have been away in Sri Lanka training in January and surfing most days at home so I will just have to give it my best shot. Obviously this is not the best start, but we have to make the best of what we have now! You’re right it saddens me to say that at the ripe age of 30 I am no longer a student! Ahh those days were so good, although I guess to be a pro surfer you have to be paid….not paying! I am now officially a weekend warrior!!

I think after the last titles I wrote ‘Ben Howey 5th in the world’ and as you may notice I do tag you ‘Ben Howey, fifth in the world’ because that is already an almighty achievement, but there is no reason you can’t improve. You must be amping this year?
Absolutely, that result was one of the proudest moments of my life without a doubt! I have been looking up to the guys I was competing against since I was a kid and to get out there and get a result like that was just amazing! A friend told me to use it as a platform not a pedestal, so I did the WSL Euro tour one more time and managed to get 4th on that the same year. This year i’m taking all that experience and positivity to France and I want to get on that podium! I love Cote des Basques and it’s a right, so if I’m going to do it….It’s going to happen there!

How are you funding the trip? Student grant? Hardship fund? ha ha ha
Ha…. A year ago the old bank of student loan would be helping me out! This year, I am very lucky that my sponsors Gul Wetsuits, Skindog Surfboards, DryRobe, Crabshell Inn, Voyager Coffee, Do Sport and CCP Personal Training are always supporting me…and the old trusty credit card will foot the rest. I’ll get out there, compete and be proud to be there…..and figure out the finances afterwards!

Why do you think we are seeing so many British longboarders so high up the various world rankings – ISA, WSL, Relik, Europe etc
The level of longboarding in the UK is crazy hey! I think it is largely down to the amazing work of the British Longboard Union that has been running for so many years now….I started when I was 16 and it was going way before that! It is a great community of supportive longboarders that offers that progression route. It’s almost a right of passage now to go and do the Euros/Worlds/Relik etc! I have no doubt that it won’t be long before a Brit wins a World Longboard title (hopefully in the very near future!)

And team mate Elliot in particular has huge potential to do well too?
Absolutely. Elliot is an amazing all round surfer. He can surf any type of board in any type of wave and make it look good. He knows France like the back of his hand and has years of competitive experience so he he a force to be reckoned with!

We will do our best down there!! Keep watching at home…. I remember last year that was what got us that results. The support was crazy…..this year we want to better that!

Emily Currie
Bude, Cornwall
Ninth place 2018 ISA Longboard world champs, invitee to the WSL WLT Taiwan, current English longboard champ.


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How excited you to be going to a world longboard games?
Super excited! I love Biarritz, it’s such a beautiful part of France and it’s so nice it’s being held so close to home!

The guys have really set a high bar on international performances. How have you been training and what are your expectations?
Yes for sure, so great seeing the boys doing so well at the last year at the ISA Worlds in China, the WSL WLT and the surf Relik Tour!
I was super pleased last year getting 9th at the ISA Worlds in China and am looking to improve on my placing in Biarritz. I was also invited to the WSL WLT in Taiwan last November as a wildcard, so I’ve competed with the girls on the world tour a few times, so it’s great to know the level I’m up against! I just need to put my head down and surf like I know I can, and looking forward to see where I come !

As always the comps are a great chance to watch top international surfers. Who are you looking forward to seeing and competing against?
I’m looking forward to seeing the likes of Soleil, obviously fresh off her world tour win last year in Taiwan. I think Soleil surfs so great, her turns are very progressive and her style when doing them and noseriding is so nice to watch. Also Lindsey Steinride, she’s someone that I always looked up to when I got into longboarding and I’ve been lucky enough to have a few heats against her in the last couple of years! From Europe, I’d love to see Alice Lemoigne do well. I’ve competed against her lots on the European LQS, and will be great to see her compete at her current home!

I see you are still mixing short and longboard. Are you going to try and make the short board team as well?
Yes, I’m still loving doing both, I love how I can use the styles in both, to make my surfing better!
Ha ha well unfortunately that’s a tricky question, because I was going for it, however the ISA Longboard championships and the British Cup dates actually clash, so I’m pretty upset about that. I’ve looked at trying to go to both, and was committed to making it happen, but was strongly advised that I had to choose one or the other in advanced (That’s the PG version)! I’m pretty bummed because I’ve been training loads recently, and feel as though my shortboarding has really improved and I was looking forward to trying to make the team! Really felt I could have don’t it this year! I’ve got my fingers crossed that Jersey is flat & they have to put it to the reserve date so that I can make the contest!

How are you funding your trip?
Sadly because of how the British Team has been selected, 2 weeks before the contest starts, there was not enough time to do any fundraising! However I’m thankfully lucky enough to have fantastic sponsors behind me, who fund trips like this for me!

Beth Leighfield
Bude, Cornwall
Three times under 18 womens English longboard champ, two times under 18 British champion, fifth place BLU 2018, runner up English nationals 2019.


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How excited you to be going to a World Longboard Games?
Super excited!! After watching everyone smash it in China a few years back on the live stream, it’s going to be an awesome experience to be there for real representing GB.

The guys have really set a high bar on international performances. How have you been training and what are your expectations?
Just been surfing as much as possible in between exams at Uni (probably a little too much surfing haha). Also went out to Portugal for an LQS event in April which was a great experience surfing in an international comp. Emily and Ben were part of Team England at the last ISA and came 5th I think, so it would be awesome if team GB could get a medal position. I’m just gonna try and surf my best, but it is going to be an amazing experience.

As always the comps are a great chance to watch top international surfers. Who are you looking forward to seeing and competing against?
The level of longboarding is going to be insane to watch. Excited to see some of the more traditional longboarders like Chloe Calmon, as think they are super stylish.

In the surf offs I think you were all tied and went into a sudden death round. How was that? Was there much pressure.
The surf was pretty tiny, which added to the pressure as you had to try and find a decent wave to get a score. In the end I managed to find a few that I could nose ride on, but I didn’t go into the day with any expectations, just wanted to try and surf my best.

How are you funding your trip?
Most of the trip is self-funded, but I am really lucky and grateful to have been supported by Gul Wetsuits, FXU (Falmouth and Exeter students union) and Vested Interest to attend the comp, as well as Skindog Surfboards for my board. We have also been given free accommodation by Eurocamp which is awesome and helps with costs.

The British longboarders are always blown away by the amount of support they get from home while hey are away competing and it definitely helps, so let’s all get behind them this weekend.