WITH the waves having finally returned this week, there’s been plenty of happy, smiley faces on the beach.
Someone smiling more than most is Croyde’s Zak Lawton following a stunning performance at the European juniors competition in Viana do Castelo, Portugal.
Competing in the Under-18s longboard event, Zak came up against some of the most talented surfers in Europe on his march to the finals held on Sunday. Lineup caught up with the talented Animal rider as he reflected on his achievement.
“It was a great contest,” he said. “We were competing for eight days, so it was a long event but it was really good.
“Any one of six surfers could have won it so I was stoked to make the final. I surfed really well and we had waves almost the whole time we where there.
“I enjoyed the getting through to the final as the opposition was so tough. I got really nervous before the final but friends and family helped calm me down.
“The final was such a nightmare for me, halfway through and I’d only got two waves and I was starting to panic, but my positive attitude kept me in the game and I was able to grab a decent wave that put me in second.
“I’m really stoked but I wanted to win.”
Thanks to his tough winter training regime of relentless surfing and gym sessions, courtesy of Devon County Council investment in sporting talent, he is fast emerging as a longboarder with real potential and a drive to make a big splash.
Just goes to show the quality of longboarding in North Devon that there are so many local riders who can compete at the highest level.
Up next for Zak is the BLU Saunton classic this weekend.
“I was a bit gutted to miss the first round BLU but they rescheduled it up against the Euro Juniors so I had to miss out.
“The classic should be a good comp, I can’t wait to get amongst it and the following week there’s the Saltrock open. I’ll grab my shortboard for that one.
“I’ve got to give a big thanks to my sponsors Animal and Tomas Technologies as well as all the friends and family who showed their support and sent all the e-mails and good luck messages.”
Great to see the young multi disciplined surfer doing so well on the European stage. We look forward to following Zak’s progress over the coming season.
Also bringing more silverware back into the shire were the Knight clan after a successful raiding mission in Cornwall for the second round of the Boarder mini series. Held at Crantock, the North Of The Boarder Junior Surf Competition organised by the National Trust is designed to combine beach cleaning and marine litter awareness with surfing.
Before competing the juniors are issued with refuse sacks and points are gained towards the heat scores by filling sacks with beach litter.
With beautiful driftwood trophies on offer and wetsuits donated by Alder also up for grabs, the competition was fierce with a large contingent of Cornish groms frothing for places.
But Taz, Peony and Flora made up the determined North Devon contingent and came close to carrying the entire haul of trophies back home.
Peony took the honours in the Under-14 girls, with Flora taking runner up. Flora then went on to make an outstanding performance in the Under-16 girls, carrying home that trophy.
Taz battled through to both the Under-14s and Under-16s finals, eventually winning the U16s by a whisker (after a countback) from Hayle’s Ripcurl-sponsored Paddy Daniels.
Croyde Surf Club held their first Mojito Pro on Saturday, and, as the sun shone, 16 eager athletes lined up for a tag-team format comp.
Each of the four team members was required to paddle out and catch one scoring wave before returning to their holding circles on the beach, not as easy as it sounds when hampered by fancy-dress!
It was highly competitive from the start with Ossian Pleasence tangling with Dan Newsome on the beach sprint.
In the water, riding for the yellow team, it was Dan who seized the initiative snagging a nice left hander which he worked nicely to the beach. There followed a procession of comedy hand-overs, surfing super-heroes, a sword waving pirate and even the heroic Baywatch-style rescue of a Pink Panther in distress by Charley “Do I Look Good In This Bikini?” Charlesworth.
“It was the best comp ever and I didn’t even go in the sea,” said Alex Baker.
Among the mayhem, the yellow team of Simon Daley, Dan Newsome, Matt Jenkins and Carlo Ferrero put on an awesome display of competitive surfing to grab the top slot.
Ossian Pleasance did some tricksy board spin thing to bag best manoeuvre, while Melvin Eveleigh proved that age and a silly costume can’t get in the way of surfing talent as he smashed wave of the day.
Event sponsors The Blugroove hosted part two of the competition and the Cheers challenge cup was unveiled.
The time trials proved popular, but it was “cider ninja” Ciceley Woodcock who trampled the men to claim the cup, showing the strength of the women’s contingent in Croyde.
Contest director Rob Whitney said: “I want to thank everyone who came along for their efforts that made the Mojito Pro such a successful and enjoyable event.
“Massive thanks to Bluegroove for hosting such a great party and to Cheers bottle shop for providing fuelling, the Cheers Challenge Cup.
“It was great to see such a big turnout with plenty of spectators, and such a strong showing from the women who mixed it up with the guys in the water as well as in the cup. Get on.”
Visit the www.croydesurfclub.com for more club info and upcoming events and contests.
This weekend the Hotdoggers host round two of the British Longboard Union tour with the Saunton classic.
The cream of UK longboarding will converge on the golden sands and hopes are high for a strong showing from the North Devon crew. Read next week’s lineup for a full round-up.
Also on Saturday was the Wax on Wax off event at the Mariners Arms in Braunton.
The Paddle 4relief fundraiser is the prelude to the main event on May 30 at Saunton.
Mark, Lloydy, Chris, Tim, Alec and Julian were joined by Tom in a spectacular night of fund raising for the victims of the Haiti earthquake and the 2004 Asian Tsunami.
The brave volunteers went under the spatula of the girls from Pure Skin and Beauty and shed follicles to raise more than £1,500.
A fantastic night that saw a good cause smash all fund-raising expectations and really raises the bar for what expected from the 2010 Paddle. Good work guys.
Get online and get involved at www.paddle4relief.co.uk