Surf predictions for the 15th Jesus Longboard Classic were quite difficult this year. Contest director, Phil Williams, was pretty convinced there would be waves for Sunday but with over 80 competitors registered, both days of surf were required, so the Christian Surfers UK team certainly put some time into praying for the right decisions to be made and for enough waves on the Saturday to complete the 22 heats which were run.
The event, which is held at Polzeath Beach in conjunction with the Tubestation and organisers Christian Surfers UK, is traditionally one of the last longboard events of the season. However, for 2023 it was brought forward to the month of April and therefore took place just one week after the BLU event in St Ives.
The event covers six categories and is always sold out on most of them, although this year there were a few less in the Women’s Open category due to the fact that it clashed with the Mexi Log Fest.
The Christian Surfers crew gathered on Friday night to set up the venue along with the Tubestation staff and were back on site at 7am on Saturday morning ready to go with the hot drinks and breakfast which were free to competitors and well received.
All were very relieved that there were enough waves to begin the heats at 9am and the contest ran seven heats before a three-hour hold due to the big spring tides decreasing the small but clean swell. However, when the tide turned again there were some great waves ridden all the way up till the end of the first day at around 7 pm. It’s fair to say that the judges, beach marshals, and all those involved with contest on the beach had every weather under the sun thrown at them with some torrential rain, so huge thanks to all of them as well as Era Water Safety looking after the event.
Saturday night meant as usual a good community gathering in the various restaurants and pubs around Polzeath which is a highlight of the event, as the longboard community come back together.
Traditionally finals day on Sunday, always starts with a very special event for the Christian surfer’s team which is a simple ‘surfers blessing’ at Tubestation Church, inviting surfers, their support crew, CSUK as well as the local church community to reflect on something relevant to start the day off, and for those wishing a blessing of sea water.
Following the thought provoking surfers blessing the contest got underway with 18 further heats. Surf for the Sunday was a bit bigger than Saturday, and still clean until midway through the day, when the winds turned north-westerly and messed up the surf, but there was still contestable waves right throughout the event until the final final finished just after 4 pm.
Some excellent surfing in all divisions, and when it came to the finals all the heats were pretty stacked. In the over 60s event a great performance by Colin Bright saw him take the victory ahead of fellow Llantwit surfer Peter Cosier, with Backwell’s Ben Keay in 3rd, and the legend that is Minnow Green taking fourth spot.
Moving through the age categories in the over 50’s a new name on the trophy, St Agnes surfer Matt Thomas with a commanding display throughout, taking the title. Rich Emerson pushing him all the way in second, with Colin Bright and Ben Keay taking third and fourth spot respectively.
The over 35’s division is always one of the most popular divisions, and once again was oversubscribed, this year there was a new name on the trophy, Hayle’s Nicolas Keruzec, taking the victory with strong performances right the way through the competition. Another dark horse unknown to this event Tom Fisher from the Gower, surfed strongly in second place and Ashley Braunton and Chris Thomson took third and fourth place respectively, all surfing really well.
The under 18’s (mixed event) always showcases the future of the longboard sport in the UK, and on form St Agnes surfer Arthur Randell retained the trophy ahead of welsh surfer Blake Jones. Seth Reed from St David’s took third, and it was great to see Sylvie Puddiphat pushing the boys all the way in 4th.
There was a new name on the trophy for the women’s title with Jen Pendlebury and Tina Beresford both from Newquay area taking first and second, with Polzeaths Mali Harbour and Georgia McCulloch also surfing strongly into third and fourth.
The open men’s final despite the onshore conditions was a real close battle with Bantham’s Ben Howey eventually taking the title he won a few years ago, but being pushed all the way by Ashley Braunton, Nicolas Keruzec and Tom Fisher.
A massive thanks for all involved in putting on this really successful event and in particular for all of the surfers who competed in some tricky conditions, the beach-based CS volunteers, and of course everybody involved with running the event and the hospitality back at Tubestation. Era also did a great job with the water safety.
Without sponsors this event could not happen so a huge thank you for those that have been involved in previous years, Nineplus, Finisterre, Georges Surf School, Kosin and Ocean Frog, and a big welcome to new sponsor 10Oversurf . Also a big thanks to British Longboard Union, and Hotdoggers for ongoing support, and Jamie at Surfline, for great up to date Surf Forecasts.
Photos: Andy Holter.
The event forms the first part of the Jesus surf series with the second part taking place in Croyde over the weekend of September 9th & 10th with the 31st Jesus Surf Classic.
If anybody would like any more information on Christian surfer’s, log onto christiansurfers.co.uk or the Facebook Pages Christian Surfers UK or Jesus Surf Series CSUK