The sun shone brightly along the North Devonshire coastline on Saturday 26th March, as the first event of Surfing England’s Junior surf series kicked off in Croyde Bay. The single-day event was hosted by Croyde Surf Club and served as the first of 5 stops across the UK, with a final competition that will see the best young athletes from each event compete to crown winners in each category.
33 young athletes who came from as far north as Tyneside and as far south as Cornwall to enter the competition. Participants were separated into four shortboard divisions: Under 12 Girls & Boys, and Under 14 Girls & Boys, following the International Surfing Association’s guidelines on age categories. The offshore winds had some hefty gusts, and the surf was relatively small but still contestable and the young athletes certainly made the most of the conditions they were given.
12 athletes competed in the under 14 boys shortboard division, with Lukas Skinner coming in first place with a total of 11.27 points, followed by Heath Gillespie in second with 6.57 points, Reuben Joseph Wakely in third with 5.10 points and Sebastian Connolly in fourth place with 3.93 points.
11 athletes competed in the under 12 boys shortboard division, with Joshi James earning first place with 8.53 points, Wilbur Prisk in second with 5.70 points. George Moy was the only North-Devon based contestant to place in the competition – and came third with 2.67 points, followed by Harvey James Waters in fourth with 2.46 points. Rafael French, from Braunton also participated in his first-ever competition. He was ranked third best in heat 3 of the quarterfinal.
4 athletes competed in the under 14 girls shortboard division, with Sunny Ingram placing first with 5.27 points, Bethan Davies in second with 4.67 points, Harlyn Sykes in third with 3.83 points and Lilly Issberner in fourth with 2.47 points.
6 athletes competed in the under 12 girls shortboard division. Hazel Bennett came first with 3.83 points, Summer-Marie Moore in second with 2.93 points, Lila Skinner in third with 2.73 points and Betsie Reay in fourth with 2.17 points.
The next stop in the series will take place in Newquay with Newquay Boardriders, and the third at Widemouth Bay with Bude Waveriders in June. The fourth in September with West Cornwall Global Boarders, the fifth in October with Tynemouth Surf club, and the finals are scheduled to take place in late October 2022, where the winners from each competition stop will be invited to compete.
“The key thing for me was seeing the smiles on everyone’s faces at the end,” says Phil Williams, the Junior Surf Series contest director for Surfing England. “We want events like the Junior Series to help young athletes hone their competitive skills and also give an opportunity for some to begin their journey into competitive surfing.”
“We had people compete from across the country to compete, and Croyde Surf Club helped to host a brilliant start to our surf series,” adds Williams.
Surfing England hopes that the Junior Series will contribute to their wider goal of running more national surfing contests to cultivate top-tier British surfing talent. The series is sponsored by Eola, a brand that provides booking systems for activity providers and surf schools throughout the UK, and Animal, a Southwest based sustainable clothing brand.
Congratulations to all of the young surfers who made it into the top four rankings of each category. It’s certain that the future of British surfing looks bright, and we hope to see athletes like Lukas Skinner, Joshi James, Sunny Ingram and Hazel Bennett flourishing into top-tier-level competitions in the future.
For more information on the upcoming event and how to attend to support our young athletes, please visit surfingengland.org/