Gwithian, Cornwall – 23rd / 24th September
The first of the available rollover weekends delivered for the BKSA Wave Masters, with Thursday morning flashing up the green light for competitors to get to Cornwall for heat starts on Saturday morning.
Early arrivals got a great Friday warm-up session to get the competition vibes rolling at the start of the weekend. Thanks to Tom and the Sylvester family at the Sunset Surf Cafe for dishing up a fab brekkie on Saturday morning, the venue that played host for the weekend.
UK events carry a a good name around the world and this event attracted over 30 competitors, one even from as far a field as Peru!
Event organiser and BKSA head of training, Andy Gratwick, said, “It’s always a great vibe and a real team effort with the Wave Masters as everyone pitches in to help with judging, marshalling and scoring in-between their own heats.”
The whole event was run in one day on the Saturday. Although the wind was strengthening, the swell was due to drop, so it was a case of hustling through the competition while the goods were there. The cross-off conditions delivering clean waist to shoulder high, rip-able conditions at times – just what the southwest of England is famous for.
The Pro Men kicked things off but, although the waves were bigger in the morning, the first few heats were tricky with gusty wind and a dropping tide. Nevertheless, the crew managed to rattle through the heats of the eight Pro Men and six Pro Women.
In round three some tight decisions were made by the judges in the Pro Mens with Brad Shaw (Liquid Force Kiteboarding, Brunotti, Fatstick) being edged out by fellow Westward Ho! local, Alex Bird, to secure his place in the final.
In the second heat it was a match up between the event organisers! Craig Smith (Liquid Force Kiteboarding + Brunotti) went up against Andy Gratwick (EasyRiders), who were also joined by south coast rider and videographer, Russell Farrington (Cabrinha).
A split 2:1 decision by the judges meant that Andy Gratwick on his pink North kite progressed alongside Russell.
The final was an array of powerful back hand smashes and wave obliteration by local boy and reigning champ Lee ‘Pasty’ Harvey (North, Ion + Pasty Adventures), who really showed that this was his spot and no one was going to get the better of him!
Mike Dawson and Alex Bird completed the rest of the podium respectfully.
In the Pro Women’s the final showdown was between current 2015 and 2016 BKC British Freestyle Champion Rosanna Jury, the 2017 Freestyle Champion, Sukie Robertson, and South Wales shredder Sarah Rowley. The waves were kind to the girls as the tide slowly dropped away. Powerful turns on both forehand and backhand were laid down throughout the heat, and it was Rosanna Jury (Airush) who came out on top, closely followed by Sukie Robertson (Ozone, Dryrobe, Brunotti + 514 Elemental) and Sarah Rowley ( Blast Kiteboarding).
The clash of the old dogs was next in line for the day. Marc Rowley (Blast Kiteboarding) had a stiff challenge from the other five competitors looking to stop him retaining his title.
Things really started to hot up in the semi-finals when local rider Pete Stephens (West Country Watersports) opened up his heat with a great scoring wave and continued to increase his wave count and move past Marc into the final!
In the opposite semi-final, Devon based rider Craig Shaw (Liquid Force Kiteboarding + Brunotti) opened up with the Masters wave of the day, but unfortunately due to a confusion this was just before the heat started! Craig didn’t seem fazed and continued to slay wave after wave, but unfortunately went down to the local knowledge of Neil Harper, who narrowly passed directly into the final.
The mini-final presented another opportunity for Craig Shaw and Marc Rowley to have another chance to make it to the final… and both were hungry! Going toe-to-toe and wave for wave, they tried to suck up anything that the swell had left to offer, which unfortunately just wasn’t much!
Marc finally managed to scrape through to the final leaving Craig in a respectable fourth place.
The final was a showdown between two local guys and a Welshman! The waves had started to tail off slightly, but each rider went for it. Eventually Peter Stephens’ fluid forehand riding earned him the top spot on the podium, followed by Neil Harper and Marc Rowley.
Two late amateur lady entries meant a round robin format was run. Three heats saw both ladies throwing in all they could muster. Gemma Solomon took the first heat before Ali Allen struck back in the second heat. Gemma eventually came out on top in the final after manoeuvring herself to take advantage of a break that had begun to work further up in the competition area as the tide dropped away.
The amateur men had a full fleet of 12 riders, which was great to see! The swell and wind became even more difficult throughout the day, but it was Robin Snuggs (514 Elemental) that managed to pick his way through his heats, after only his second session on a surfboard this year, to take the win!
Following up on the podium, Lance Olner took second after managing to pass through two heats against Tom Beaton (Ozone) to reach the final.
Nick Allen’s explosive yet fluid style helped him grab the final podium place, finishing off a great competition had by all!
Sunset Surf Cafe Prizegiving
Prize giving took place alongside a beautiful meal put on again by the Sunset Surf Cafe, followed by the obligatory sinking of beers after yet another great event in this year’s BKSA calendar!
Thanks to all sponsors involved, the race crew and all competitors for making such an effort for this event!
See you next year!