The lead up with regards to the surf forecast for the revised dates of the 31st Jesus Surf classic were a little bit challenging, with contestable conditions forecast for Saturday, and a storm coming through for Sunday.
The plan was hatched to run as much through on Saturday as possible with a possible move to a more sheltered beach of Putsborough on Sunday for the remaining heats.
Unfortunately due to the stormy weather and unpredictable forecast organisers Christian Surfers UK had to cancel the under 12’s division, but it still meant that over 120 surfers in seven divisions turned up to compete for this very enjoyable and popular event.
First heats hit the water at 8:30 am as planned with seven heats of twin peaks, which worked well and helped enable contest director Phil Williams to get where he wanted to by the end of day one.
Conditions during the morning were really fun with clean 3ft waves coming through, and ensuring there were some high performances in all of the categories. By mid-afternoon the surf had become a bit more ragged and had dropped a bit. By the end of day one, finals of the under 18’s girls, under 14’s (mixed), under 16’s (mixed) and women’s open had been run through to conclusion.
The presentation was held outside in bright sunshine, beside the contest marquee, where all surfers and their support teams had enjoyed great hospitality, with a barbecue and fresh cakes as well as hot drinks throughout the day.
It was a great year for the youngsters as some of the more established surfers were competing abroad, and therefore opened up the way for some new winners of these categories. In the under 14’s Isaac Friend took the victory ahead of Dylan Roose, Seb Whiteley in third and Rueben Wakely surfing well throughout in fourth.
The under 16’s is always hotly contested, and this year Jago Tasker took the win for the first time ahead of Reen Bowden-Inoue who was surfing really well throughout, and still in the U18’s, Ziggy Robinson in third and Piran Friend in fourth.
In the girls Under 18’s there were some great surfing throughout with Wales’s Bobby Owen in fourth Eva Blackford coming third, and a real tussle between Lila Skinner who just missed out in second, with Harlyn Sykes winning.
It was a busy day for the girls with many doubling up in the Women’s Open and on this occasion, it was Asha Sykes that took the victory ahead of Harlyn, with Oceana Peres in third place and Poppy Owen again doing really well to get to her second final but in fourth place.
With the surfing conditions continuing to worsen for Croyde on Sunday it was decided to move beaches to ‘Putts’ for the remaining 10 heats. The Sunday setup team were greeted with swell lines out to the horizon and some amazing surfing went down during the morning.
In the under 18’s Malaki Hagley took the win ahead of Reen Bowden-Inoue, with Sammy Woolf in third and Jago Tasker in fourth.
In the hotly contested over 35’s Rob Watson took the title for the fourth time, ahead of local South African Simon Nicholson, with Ashley Braunton normally known as a long border taking third, and Paignton’s Gary Wells in fourth place.
The men’s open final was a real tussle between Max Bullen winning for the first time, just ahead of Malaki Hagley, local lifeguard Finn Gamblin surfing well in third just ahead of Max Hudson in fourth
Before both Presentations took place on both days, Phil Williams (Celebrating his 30th year running the event) wanted to dedicate the event to an amazing Christian surfer’s member who had passed away just two days before, and everybody took time out for a few moments to give thanks for the life of Sabina Edwards and anybody else that was on their minds.
Christian surfer member Chris Clark had made some beautiful trophies for the event and that added to the cheques for the winners meant big smiles on all their faces.
A huge thanks for everybody that had contributed to this event, for RNLI for looking after us throughout both days at two beaches, for Parkdean and Rob Tucker for allowing us to use the beaches, the local churches for their support, and obviously the numerous Christian surfers’ volunteers from around the country that travelled to lay o