On September 11th and 12th 2015 both men and ladies Surf boat crews from Llantwit Major Surf Lifesaving Club travelled to the wide expanses of Saunton Sands, North Devon for rounds 5 and 6 of the UK Surf Rowers League. Although lying second going into the event, buoyed by their success at the UK Open , the men’s team “The Crocodiles” were looking to win the league. The ladies, “Major Drama” were hoping to cement an excellent 4th position in their inaugural season.
For round 5 the teams arrived to the sight of a pumping 4/5ft swell with a heavy cross shore wind. The crocodiles were sent out by organisers to “test” the conditions. Several big hits later and some strong sweeping from Mike “Big Wave” Lord the Crocodiles returned to shore. Unfortunately the conditions were too rough for the ladies to compete, but all men’s crews decided to proceed. Two rounds (four races) of pure lottery ensued with positions very much dictated by the sea conditions. The teams from Portreath, Croyde, Newport, St Agnes, Porthtowan and Llantwit decided to postpone the remainder of the racing until the next day. Everyone decamped to sample the kind hospitality of Andy and Claire Bray’s BBQ on Saturday night.
Returning to the beach on Sunday, the conditions couldn’t have been better. Clean 2-3ft surf with a slight offshore breeze. Nursing a few bruised backs, thumbs, bums and heads (Toyah) from the previous afternoon and evening, Major Drama and The Crocodiles warmed up and were ready for action. Following an unlucky second in the postponed round from the previous day, the Crocodiles swept the board recording victory in all 3 races of round 6. Major Drama rowed well and looked certain of a victory in one round had not another boat lost control in the surf and the team had to take evasive action to avoid a collision.
The final race of the day was a mixed crew “Novice Sweep” race in which Ross Fraser of LM was leading the league after 4 rounds, only one point ahead of a crew from St Agnes. Some excellent rowing and sweeping ensued as Ross negotiated the surf conditions with aplomb. The team even received a fly-by from an RAF Sea King Helicopter, hovering just above them on manoeuvres from nearby RAF Chivenor. In winning this race, Ross secured the overall Novice sweep championship.
After a great season everyone is mightily proud of the achievements of both squads. The Crocodiles celebrated their inaugural UK Open title and finished in their highest ever league position of 2nd. Major Drama finished a fantastic 4th in their first season and have excelled in every aspect that is good about team amateur sports. We look forward to their ensured progress over coming seasons and success isn’t too far away.
Any prospective surf rower can get in touch via twitter, facebook or the Llantwit Major SLSC website. Pre-season training starts in the calm surroundings of Cardiff Bay after the new year. This is the perfect time for new starters to feel the thrill of rowing a surf boat without the worry of waves to hinder their progress. Everyone is welcome to come and try this exhilarating team sport that takes you to beautiful places in the UK and around the world, making new lifelong friends all along the way.
Both squads would like to thank Clive Edwards Contracting, Overboard, Gewfy/Filtrate, Force S&C and Atlantic Way Crossfit for their continued support. If you’d like to sponsor these crews in any way please get in touch via the mediums already listed above.
Photo L-R: Gethin Edwards, Toyah Newman, Matt Wright, Emma Kaye, Josh Edwards, Mike Lord, Matt Rowlands, Ben Thomas, Kate Tomley, Ross Fraser. Not shown: Cath Thomas, Heather Webber and Elaine Froggett