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October 16, 2015

Watergate Bay, Cornwall – October 10th & 11th

Event Report: Richard Marsh, Competition Director // All photos BSUPA/Bob Berry/ Rob Jewell


The Extreme Academy, Watergate Bay, Cornwall once again played host to this years BSUPA National Sup Surf Championships. Now in its seventh year these championships still remains the UK’s premiere Sup Surf only competition. With the tail end of the hurricane situated off North American threatening to blow all sorts of condition to the UK, all eyes had been scanning weather and surf reports to gauge what hand might be deal for this year’s competition. As dawn broke on Saturday morning and the competitors checked in it was clear the weather and surf had settled and was set to produce some great conditions. The Open Men’s had been capped and 32 riders and was full. But it was the Open Women with 9 including 14 year old Elle Veale from Hayle, and 8 in the Under 16 Boys, were a positive growth in the entries was seen the most from last years competition.

Saturday focus was on the qualifying rounds for the three main competitions, Open Men, Open Women and Under 16 Boys. In the Open Men all top seeds progressing to the semi finals, and it was clear that Current and twice Champion Matt Barker-Smith was out to retain and claim his third consecutive National Title. However a new generation was knocking on the gates and 16 year Ollie Laddiman and 18-year-old James Arnell-Smith in his first championships qualified into the semi-finals. In the Open Women competition Holly Bassett was also aim to take her third consecutive title, but with Marie Buchanan and Abi Barker-Smith both pervious champions in the draw, the Open Women like the Open Men would be fiercely fought all the way to the final.

Sunday and once again the conditions looked good and would allow for some great competition, starting with Heats 1-4 of the Men’s Plate competition. This was for competitors who finished 3rd and 4th in Round One of the main Open Men’s draw from Saturday. In their Final 1st Place when to Matthew Llewellyn, 2nd Paul Stebbing and 3rd to Simon Dunton.

Over the course of the weekend there was a fantastic feel to the beach. In addition to the competition there is a real gathering feel to it, with people coming from different parts of the UK, sharing experiences, trying different boards, and for many catching up with friends made from pervious trip to competition and great venue of Watergate Bay. Many competitors when knocked out spend the rest of day free sup surfing.

On to the Semi-Finals and as the competition gear up so did the conditions drawing the crowds on the beach down to the waters edge. Year on year we have see positive development and growth in all division, but this year the stand out group had to be the under 16’s. Sadly with only one entry the Under 16 Girls there could be not competition, but total credit to her Elle Veale she felt she could compete with the other Open Women and ended up making through to the semi finals. In the Under 16 Boys, every one of the semi finalists had the ability to win, but it was Ollie Laddiman, Blue Ewers, Guy Bridge and Finn Gamblin that would line up in the Final.

Open Women, again two great semi-final seeing Holly Basset, Marie Buchanan, Tina Barefoot and newcomer Georgie Page all secured their pages in the final. Open Men’s Semi Finals were like a Final. Semi-Final A would see Alex Murray, Glen Ovens proceed to the Final over Charlie Grey and Ollie Laddiman, and Semi Final B would Matt Barker-Smith, and Ollie Shilston proceed to the final over Neal Gent and James Arnell-Smith.

With no time to rest Ollie Laddiman was back in the water for the Under 16 Boys Final, and as the runner up in 2014 was keen to go all the way this year to become National Champion. Ollie’s opening wave scoring an average 7.0 from the judges Ollie set down the mark for the others to beat. Blue Ewer came close with a 6.0 for his opening wave, but the opening wave from Ollie just gave him the edge as the clock closed out. All four took the hits and rode the waves hard throughout the final, and they along with their fellow under 16’s can walk away from these championship heads high, having given it their all. We have some very talented young riders who will all be pushing the competition and the development of the sport in the coming years.

Open Women like the Under 16 Boys had the largest amount of entries we have seen at these championships. With two Champions, and two previous Semi-Finalists, everyone know it was going to be one to watch and that they were about to witness something special. How right they were. Wave after wave, each determined to catch it first, each wanting to ride it the wave faster and harder than the other. It was to close to call, with the lead charging hands almost after every wave. Then disaster ‘interference’ called on Green (Georgie Page) on her second wave on Red (Marie Buchanan) this would mean at the end of the final what ever her score her second highest score would be halved, effective putting her out of contention for the title. During each heat competitors have twenty minutes to catch a maximum of ten waves, so it is key to count your waves and also not to waste them to early just incase conditions charge. However if a competitor goes over the ten waves and catches another one, they can loss points with again with their second highest scoring wave being half. With Georgie seemingly out of the competition, it seem it was between Holly, Tina and Marie all evenly matched. As the saying goes ‘its not over, till its over’, and the Open Women had one more twist, one more blow, one more ‘interference’, this time Red on Green. With this call, once again there would be a chance to over scores and the over all positions. As the hooter sounds, and in one of the best Women’s finals seen at Watergate Bay, Tina Barefoot, took 1st palace have first every BSUPA National Title over 2014 Champion Holly Bassett, with Georgie Page in 3rd and Marie Buchanan in 4th.

Would the Open Men’s Final be as dramatic as the Open Women’s? The final would be a clash of the Celtic Nations with two Cornish riders Alex Murray and Ollie Shilston against Matt Barker-Smith and Glen Ovens from Wales. Over the twenty minutes of this final the standard and level of riding was breath taking, smooth rides and explosive off the lip action. Matt looking for his third consecutive title pulled out all the stops and scored an 8.0 with his third wave. There really was very little between all four of them, with local surfer Alex Murray trying to use all his local knowledge of the conditions to get every meter of ride out of each wave. With time being called Matt had done just enough to hold off Alex and with it claiming his third consecutive BSUPA National Title. Glen Ovens took 3rd and Ollie Shilston 4th.

Time to take down the flags and open up the competition area to all the other water users of Watergate Bay. It had been a great weekend of competition and social gathering, and once again showcased the best of British Sup Surf on all levels.

The organizers of these Championships and BSUPA would like to express their unreserved thanks and appreciation to the follow individuals, organizations and companies who without there support the staging on this years event would not have been possible.

The Extreme Academy, & Watergate Bay Hotel
Bob Freshwater and his team of highly experienced judging panel.
Surf Live Saving of Great Britain/Perranporth Safe Live Saving Club
Bob Berry & Rob Jewell, for once again capturing amazing images from across the weekend.

GUL Watersports,
Westcountry Watersports,
SUPBoarder Magazine,
Prosport Sunscreen,
Blu Wave SUP,
Action Van,
Fat Stick,
Indo Board,
Kailoa Paddles,
Nah Skwell,
Wave Hunter,
Disco Beads,
Starboard SUP,

Finally all the competitors and families for coming along to compete and support, and making it a special weekend.


Open Men
1st Matt Barker-Smith
2nd Alex Murray
3rd Glen Ovens
4th Ollie Shilston

Open Women
1st Tina Barefoot
2nd Holly Bassett
3rd Georgie Page
4th Marie Buchanan

Under 16 Boys
1st Ollie Laddiman
2nd Blue Ewer
3rd Guy Bridge
4th Finn Gamblin

Under 16 Boys
1st Elle Veale

2015 Watergate Bay Waterman – Matt Barker-Smith
2015 Watergate Bay Waterwomen – Tina Barefoot


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