Well, at the conclusion of the season which simply didn’t happen due to Covid-19, we gathered on Christmas Day morning to remind ourselves that we are a club and that we will celebrate our togetherness in keeping the tradition going in these straightened times. A strong onshore Northerly welcomed our surfing contingent. Those dry-shod supporters at the waters’ edge were well-wrapped against the wind and in good spirits!
As always, my apologies for those participants whose image is not recorded in my pictures – mainly the score or so higher up the beach, but also maybe a surfer or two who evaded my lens. Here’s hoping we will all be back on Christmas Day 2021 with the plague firmly behind us!
Happy New Year to all saints boardriders and our supporters!
We are living in strange times. The covid-19 pandemic has taken thousands of lives in Britain and brought dislocation to our economy and a lockdown of the conduct of our personal lives which would have been unthinkable just six months ago. Daily we have learned of the loss of life of loved ones, and of the titanic struggles being fought in our hospitals, care homes and social services to save the stricken and to protect the vulnerable as the country has responded to the crisis. People who fell ill were asked to self-isolate at home and only ask for help if their condition became serious. Those of us fortunate to remain well were also confined to home with a strict regimen which permitted one daily walk of an hour around the neighbourhood, and a single weekly food shop if possible.
The government eased these strictures on the use of public spaces as the first month elapsed. Longer times were allowed outside the home and a licence to travel further for exercise was greatly welcomed, particularly here in St. Ives where days upon days of unbroken sunshine enabled many families to bring their children to the beach. Sea bathing and surfing were approved as acceptable forms of exercise and Porthmeor offered plentiful space for social distancing.
One element of the beach experience was missing, and the surf forecast for the forthcoming Whitsun weekend sounded the alarm. Strong onshore winds and large waves were expected at the beach, but there were no lifeguards. The RNLI had curtailed it’s recruitment and furloughed it’s permanent staff when the pandemic struck. It was unprepared for beach lifeguarding, and advising people through social media that they should not go into the sea.
At Porthmeor, The St. Ives Surf Lifesaving Club, St. Ives Surf School, Saints Boardriders, the Porthmeor Beach management and the unemployed lifeguards who were using the beach daily felt they could jointly offer a response to this absence by devising a safety cover which would foresee and prevent a dangerous event from happening and also have the capability of providing a first aid service for minor injuries.
It was up-and-running within a day – a low-key service of ‘safety officers’ advising those going into the sea on the conditions and the safest area for their activity. The local community was immediately supportive, to the extent that one resident opened a fundraiser, several local restaurants have provided lunch for the volunteers and some of our junior lifesavers have joined the volunteers and gained valuable experience while their schools are closed.
Over the three weeks in which the service operated there were few incidents and no real alarms. Then a sting in the tail gave a thunderous emphasis on why the service was needed. In the final hour of the last day of volunteer cover, a group of four bathers was swept into a rip which took them into a boiling sea of short head-high breaking waves. They were disorientated and in trouble. There was a high speed dash down the beach by three of the volunteers on duty while the fourth made radio contact with the coastguard service to alert them to the incident. The lead lifeguard smashed through the waves with a rescue board and reached three casualties, who were able to cling to the craft and draw breath. As a second rescuer then brought them back toward the beach, the leader again plunged into the waves to find the fourth swimmer who was now struggling to stay afloat. He succeeded in reaching the swimmer and bringing her back to the shore where her companions were now safely recovering aided by the other two rescuers. Disaster was averted without the need for the lifeboat and other emergencies services.
As we welcome the RNLI back to the beach we can reflect on the lessons learned from this endeavour. The preventative aspect of beach lifeguarding has been the most crucial element of the exercise. Keeping an alert watch, maintaining fitness and preparedness to act, along with those useful interactions at the waters’ edge with surfers and bathers have helped the days pass quietly. Coastal communities elsewhere in the country have sadly seen the loss of life during this time. Some other beaches also moved to set up ad hoc lifeguarding teams and no lives have been lost where these have operated.
In closing, I offer a few pictures of some of our volunteers and a list of all who stepped up to serve. This is a time of international tragedy when too many people are grieving for lost family and friends. It’s also a time that has seen magnificent efforts from NHS staff, carers, shop workers, police and emergency services to prop up civil society as we struggle to understand how the world will look tomorrow. We are learning that we depend on those who stand up and offer to do something. In a small way our volunteers found a way to help Porthmeor be a relief valve for the emotions and energy which lockdown contained. The community instantly showed whole-hearted support for them. Thank you all!
Here is a list of all those who volunteered their time and expertise over those three weeks:
Here’s St. Ives Surf School’s salute to the new year which I’d like to share with the members and supporters of saints boardriders. Harris and his coaching team are a mainstay of our club and we thank them wholeheartedly and wish them a fabulous 2020!
And those good wishes go out to all our members, supporters and friends too. Happy New Year!
A pleasant Christmas Day morning greeted our 2019 cohort of celebration surfers and supporters. It was a well-attended affair, though my pictures may not do it justice as the attendance was spread between the clubhouse, the surf school and the waters’ edge, and I caught only those in or down by the water with my camera. However, with my apologies made – and hopefully accepted – here are those attendees that I saw:
The waves offered plenty of opportunities for all abilities, and there are a few examples below of what we saw on the day. saints boardriders wishes all our members and supporters a healthy and prosperous 2020. Cheers!
We came together for the final kids Club of the season last Saturday to celebrate another successful campaign, gauge our progress and give the Dolphins a chance to show off their competitive streak and give just one girl and one boy the chance to claim the title ‘Champion 2019″. The younger groups took to the water for a last coaching session of the summer, impressing us with their confident skills, and maybe hoping to catch the coach’s eye and claim an award too.
Meanwhile, further along the beach, the girls competition was underway, studied from the balcony of the clubhouse by our judging panel led by Minnow Green of Surfing Great Britain. The first semi final was distinguished by Senara’s bomb of a ride from a heavy take off out back right in to the beach where her big smile told us she was rightly pleased with herself!
The girls finalists grace our banner picture and they put on a great show. It was a close affair throughout and the last few minutes were a mad scramble to get that one outstanding wave that could put the event beyond doubt.
Next up, the boys final found the conditions somewhat messier as the tide dropped out and required a quick reassessment of tactics to find the best scoring waves.
Ollie stuck to the timeworn strategy of looking for the bombs from out back to nail the heat. Tim and Caz varied their attacks between the big green stuff and the inside reformed waves. Teddy had a quick look out back and decided to come inside and let his quick surfing and nimble turns do his talking.
At the final hooter we all repaired to the clubhouse to learn who had won the trophies for 2019. Surfer of the Summer, Most Improved and Most Committed were the categories for the younger groups and our chairman, Steve had the privilege of awarding them to the surfers selected by their coaches.
Minnow then took the floor to enthuse members with his report of the recent ISA World Surfing games in Japan, which will also host the inaugural Olympic surfing competition.
He then had the honour of asking the girls finalists to come back to the centre stage to receive their trophies. Last up, and thus our champion for 2019 was Eleanor! All three judges had her just a half point better than Senara in the final. Then the nervous wait was over for the boys and they could learn their result. Teddy was last to be called this time, earning a just reward for a summer spent doing little else but catching waves. Well done to all our competitors! It was a pleasure to witness the skill, endeavour and sportsmanship on display out there.
Our thanks are due to Minnow, Neil, Jack and Eve for judging the event, and to Porthmeor Beach for feeding the competitors on the day. More generally, we are indebted as always to St. Ives Surf School whose coaches lead our sessions every Saturday, to Porthmeor Beach lifeguards for their unstinting support and to Porthmeor Beach management for the nourishment and welcome we find there every time. Parents and helpers are also an invaluable resource to the club and praise is due to them too!
And I end with the welcome news that the 2019 Surfers Ball is just around the corner on 25th October. Tickets are on sale now at the clubhouse or at Tregenna Castle, price £30. Small Wonder headline this year’s entertainment, along with DJ Chewy, Tom Quirke’s jazz in the lobby, roulette and blackjack in the casino, those red carpet photos and a photo booth, the big ticket auction and, of course, a sumptuous meal into the bargain. Let’s get dressed up and come out to play!
Once again we were welcomed to a sweet September morning, as captioned to our blog last week! Seventy plus kids turned up to enjoy the fruits of this late-season swell. Today’s banner picture shows the Dolphins group and some of our coaches about to hit the water for their session – I hope you weren’t led to the site expecting to see their cetacean cousins as they don’t appear this week! There are dolphins and some surfers belonging to other fishy-named groups in our gallery below.
So we move into the final month of the Kids Club season and September brings a very surfable wave on a blustery Saturday morning. As so often this summer, conditions were favourable for our most advanced surfers, the Dolphins, and there were twenty of them checked in for the ride! Conversely, the second session saw the tide filling in rapidly and the Nemos found themselves bodyboarding in deepening water instead of the Swelly rides they might have expected. Nevertheless, a good time was had by all as evidenced below. Our banner picture today has instructor Burger resolving his choice of craft mid-ride after initial indecision. Or something like that!
It’s the last day of August, the last Kids Club before the school year begins and there is a distinct chill in the early morning air. An Autumn swell is rolling in to Porthmeor offering some chest-high waves out back as well as the long runners that we find inside on the falling tide. Both the Nemos and the Dorys are given a brisk warm-up to get the muscles ready and the minds psyched before launching. Out on the green waves, the Dolphins, reduced in number by the absence of those members contesting the Rip Curl Gromsearch in Newquay, are battling heavy paddle-outs to earn the right to ride those bigger waves back in. It’s a challenge, and it’s fun!
Well, we are suddenly blessed with some swell, and while it brings a few problems of rips and washes for the most junior surfers on the inside, the guys out back are having their fill of some meaty waves. Here’s a flavour of the morning:
The first weekend of the school summer holiday! We can’t remember if it’s ever rained here, we have a welcoming wave at Porthmeor, all is truly sitting right in this world. There was another good turnout of eager surfers, some of whom can be seen doing their thing below. And here’s hoping that summer vibe goes on and on and…