Aloha from Wales!
This past weekend, the Welsh Surfing Federation hosted the annual Welsh Nationals. Where all of the top girls, boys, men & women come together and compete to find out who will be crowned Welsh champ! It was a fun filled weekend as always, with highly contested categories. I love heading to Fresh West every year to compete in the welsh as not only do you get to compete amongst Wales' finest. But it is also a chance to catch up with old friends and have a laugh!
Being 19 years old, I entered into the Mens Open category. This is the category that is open to all and is fiercely competitive, with the likes of Welsh Legends Mark Vaughan, Harry Cromwell and Ingmar Cressey (Bru) and new school competitors like Pat Dark (PLD) Jo Morris and Rhys Barfield.
Round 1 I had my best mate PLD and CCSC legend Arran (The Hawk) Bright. Conditions were tough. As I hadn't surfed a heat in over half a year, I was feeling pretty nervous. Definitely not the best heat performance from myself, but it was enough to advance in 2nd place into the 1/4 Finals.
Into the 1/4 Finals I was faced with a super tough heat. Gower powerhouse Adam (Bentos) Jenkins, Port Talbots finest (little) Jo Morris and the majors maaaast, Craig Bright. Again some tricky conditions with strong wind and a bright glare reflecting off the water. I started the heat off with a strong left with a few small backhand whips. I saw the other guys getting waves with solid 1 turners and knew I needed to back up my first wave. I managed to find another left, which would end up being my best wave of the heat. And quickly backed it up with a right hander. The tail end of the heat was tricky, but Jo Morris managed to find some lovely inside runners, and get himself up to second place and we both advanced through to the Semi Finals.
The Semi Finals were always going to be tricky, and with the likes of Harry Cromwell, Mark Vaughan and PLD the round definitely lived up to its reputation. Mark and Harry are very experienced surfers who know how to put a heat together. With the waves being 1ft and onshore, PLD's favourite conditions, making it through this heat was going to be no easy task.
I made sure I had a quick start with a couple of one turners, but couldn't really find a wave with any considerable scoring potential. About halfway through the heat, PLD started to find his rhythm, with a smaller but very well surfed 3 turn wave. Pat then backed this up with a very technical air reverse. Mark and Harry, both suited to better conditions found it difficult to find a runner, and I was lucky enough to sneak through this heat in second position.
So onto the finals, the hard work had really been done and now I just had to shake the nerves and surf my best. Just making it to the finals for me was a great achievement, as this means I am selected as part of the Welsh surf team to compete at the British Nationals in Jersey at the end of the month. A good result here will also count towards the Senior European Championships selection, so I knew I had to do well.
The final was held in the trickiest conditions we had seen the whole contest. Pat and Jo decided to sit on a sand bank in the middle of the beach whilst myself and Jay Quinn sat on the main peak in front of the rocks. The heat was slow with a few weak runners coming through. I saw Jay have a nice 4 turn wave early on in the heat and looking back at the other sand bank, Jo and Pat respectively getting some good hits on their waves. I made sure I milked everything that was on offer, and when we came out of the water, it was clear Jay had ran away with first, but the other 3 podium positions were not clear.
I was pretty stoked when we were waiting for our names to be called up and they announced me in second. All the boys surfed amazing in the final and with the waves as tough as they were, it really was anyones game!
Just want to say a massive shout out to all my sponsors for the support and to all the boys at the contest who make them so fun! Also a big thanks to the WSF for putting on the event, you can check their full write up and video edit here.
Hope you enjoyed the read...plenty more fun stuff coming up so stay tuned!