A highlight of the UK surfing calendar will return to Watergate Bay on 4th-6th May when the 41st English National Surfing Championships takes place. Hosted by the Extreme Academy and sponsored by sun protection brand P20, the competition will attract the best surfers from across the country to compete for the English title in 14 categories.
For the second year in a row the event has been organised by first year Cornwall College Newquay students from the Surf Science and Technology Foundation Degree.
The English National Surfing Championships will see many competitors returning from foreign locations like Indonesia, Hawaii, Portugal and Ireland where they have been training in powerful and testing conditions. Current English Ladies Champion Hannah Harding is in Indonesia and will be returning to defend her title. Hannah will be joined by Johnny Fryer who won the Open division at last year’s event.
New for this year is a Juniors Division, which will run alongside the Open Division, Ladies, Seniors (over 28 years), Masters (over 35 years) and Veterans (over 45 years). The event is the first stop on the UK Pro Surf Tour for the Open, Women and Junior divisions which has over £3,000 prize money at stake.
The Extreme Academy at Watergate Bay is sponsored by Gul and Mark ‘Egor’ Harris, a Gul sponsored team rider, will be heading back to Watergate Bay to compete this year. We caught up with him to ask how he is preparing for the event.
Tell us a bit about your surfing career.
I have lived all my life in Newquay and been in the sea as long as I can remember! When I was really young we would ride waves on anything we could find, then my parents bought me my first surfboard aged 7. I would surf all the time in all conditions.
I got a real buzz out of competing and won my first British title aged 12 in the under 14 division held in west Wales. Since then I won several titles growing up at the English and British Nationals , the highlight being the British Open title held in great surf at Fistral beach.
Competitive surfing has taken me around the world which I’m very grateful for! I represented England and Great Britain in European and World games held in California, Australia, Indonesia, Europe and South Africa. I’m also passionate about surfing new challenging waves around Britain which can be as good as anywhere I have traveled.
Its a good time to be a British surfer!
What does Watergate Bay mean to you?
Watergate Bay means a lot to me and I have great memories of my Dad driving us here in his van from Newquay, which always seemed a mini surf trip adventure at the time! I’ve had some great surfs here over the years and its a great venue for a surf competition as there’s lots of nice spots to view the action up high or at waters edge; a nice ampitheatre feel if you will.
If your nearby you should definitely check it out!
What do the English Nationals mean to you?
The English Nationals is an event all the top surfers want to win, as it holds lots of history and prestige. The names on the trophy of past winners are great English surfers going back to the seventies. I would love to get my name on the trophy as its the only National title I have not won. There’s also the Randall Davies memorial trophy, who was a great surfer from Newquay and English and British champion, but sadly passed away before the chance to defend his titles.
How have you been preparing for the event?
I have been preparing for the event by testing out some new equipment, doing a bit of yoga and pilates and getting a buzz out of coaching some up and coming youngsters who are competing at the Nationals.Today, at Watergate, I surfed with young Aiden who is competing in the under 12 division! I am looking forward to competing myself but also watching all the youngsters battle it out.
Who is going to be your biggest challenger?
There are lots of great surfers who will be hard to beat for the title. Russell Winter is always the man to beat as the most successful British surfer ever. Other challengers include Alan Stokes, current UK tour champion; Jayce Robinson, Isle of Wight legend; Jonny Fryer; the Ash brothers from Bude; as well as a younger generation of exciting surfers, the list goes on. It’s going to be a great event, whatever conditions Cornwall throws at us!
Don’t miss the English National Surf Competition at Watergate Bay on 4th/5th/6th May.