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Open Women’s winner Beth Leighfield. Photos: Farscapes

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The cool scene at Watergate Bay, with the Men’s finalists: Ben Skinner, Ben Howey, Elliot Dudley and James Parry

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Welshman Elliot Dudley stealing the Mother of Dragons from Jon Snow . . . sorry . . . the win in the Men's Open.

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The always stylish Emily Currie.

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Women’s Open crew, in a five-surfer three-heat round robin.

Rivalling the Game of Thrones finale - the Battle of Watergate Bay

15 May 19


They came from the four corners of the kingdom . . . well, nearly . . . to face off in the inaugural British Longboard Championship, an invitation only event bringing together the best longboarders in the land ‐ as determined by their respective home nation contests. The prize? To be selected in the team to represent British Surfing at the ISA Longboard World Championships in Biarritz at the end of the month.

Things got off to a wobbly start, a weakening surf report throughout the week made Contest Director Minnow Green’s decision to even hold the event seem a very optimistic one. In the end, and despite admittedly mediocre quality surf, it proved to be the right call with fiercely competitive heats from start to finish. The more worrying issue was the non‐appearance of the Channel Islands team and the generally low turnout of women longboarders, but that’s a conundrum for another day.

Battle commenced with the Men’s Open, and predictably strong performances from Ben Skinner (ENG), Elliot Dudley (WAL), James Parry (ENG) and Ben Howey (ENG) in the opening heats. Scotland’s recently crowned and seemingly ever‐youthful champion Malcolm Findlay also lay down his own challenge for a place on the team.

Due to the low turnout in the Women’s Division the competitors surfed a 5 surfer three heat round robin format, spaced out across the day to give the opportunity to surf (in theory) a variety of conditions and tides. First blood went to Emily Currie (ENG), taking first place ahead of fellow Bude local Beth Leighfield (ENG).

Switching back to the Men’s Open we had a repechage round which ‐ due to the missing Channel Island surfers – did little more than offer the chance to surf for a potentially easier quarter final spot. Scotland’s Tom Gibson and Frazier Reid got the nod in two very close heats.

The tide began to recede and with it any real power the swell possessed. In a slightly higher‐scoring second heat, Fistral local Jenny Briant (ENG) squeezed past Emily with a 6.67 highest single wave score and a double digit total.

The Men’s quarters were almost a re‐run of Round 1, with the three senior English surfers and Elliot Dudley scoring well and putting serious daylight between themselves and their fellow competitors.

Back to the Women, and the final round robin heat. Well, sort of. With the sort of dramatic twist that wouldn’t be out of place in any series‐ending episode of GoT, Beth Leighfield took the heat with some stylish nose riding and an almost mystical ability to find waves where seemingly none should exist, and with Jenny Briant and Emily Currie taking 2nd and 3rd spots respectively we were left with a three way tie and a sudden death final, FINAL heat with only two places in the team up for grabs.

The Men’s semis saw the departure of Malcolm Findlay, and with it hopes of Scottish representation in France. England’s supergrom Jordan Zervas and Wales’s Evan Rogers and Arran Bright also took their final curtain call after a well fought campaign.

Down to the very sharp end of the competition, the Women took to the stage for their 3 surfer final and it was Beth Leighfield who took control of the heat from the start, finding the best scoring potential in the small and weak left‐handers. Despite a valiant effort by Jenny Briant, it was Emily Currie who found the fractions of a point needed to claim second spot.

The men rounded the day off, the consistently high scoring foursome of Ben, Ben, Elliot and James once again finding huge scoring potential where most of us would struggle to get to our feet. Their ability to cross step, get toes on the nose and drop‐knee turn in such relatively poor conditions never ceases to astound. In the end Elliot Dudley and Ben Skinner made the most of what was on offer, Ben taking 2nd place with his final wave literally seconds before the hooter and in the process relegating James Parry down to 3rd with current BLU Men’s Open Champion Ben Howey having to settle for 4th.

Thanks to Watergate Bay and the Extreme Academy for providing such a fantastic location to run the event, the BLU, Minnow Green and assorted contest officials for presiding over a very smoothly run contest, the RNLI lifeguards and commentator Lee Bartlett for managing to find enough longboard‐themed superlatives to keep the crowd entertained throughout the day.

  - REPORT & PHOTOS BY RICHARD DAVIES / FARSCAPES LTD

Watergate Bay May 11, 2019

RESULTS:

Men’s Final

Elliot Dudley (WAL) 12.00

Ben Skinner (ENG) 11.80

James Parry (ENG) 10.35

Ben Howey (ENG) 8.30

Women’s Final

Beth Leighfield (ENG) 9.17

Emily Currie (ENG) 6.50

Jenny Briant (ENG) 5.17

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