On Sunday 4th September, the ever expanding community of traditional wooden ‘prone’ surfing enthusiasts will descend on the cosy location of Chapel Porth beach in St Agnes to take part in the 9th annual ‘World Bellyboard Championships’.
Organised and hosted by the National Trust and sponsored by Skinners Brewery, the event has grown from humble beginnings with just a handful of entrants, into a genuine World Championship competition which has gone truly global in recent years with entrants from Australia, New York, San Francisco and British Virgin Islands
National Trust Ranger and contest director Nick Holden says ‘This year’s World Belly Board Championships will be bigger and better than ever, and suitable for anyone and everyone of any fitness level with the minimum of gear; from 80 year old ladies to teenage boys. It will be competitive, entertaining, inspiring, traditional, bucket loads of fun and the coolest event to take part in.’
The traditional art of surf riding has deep roots in the British Isles. First produced in Britain in the 1920’s and known as surf riding boards, wooden bellyboards are a direct descendant of the ancient Hawaiian paipo boards. The competition embraces all aspects of prone wooden boards and will showcase the work of an evolving low key industry, which produces wooden surf riding equipment.
English poet John Betjeman regularly used the boards at Polzeath and perfectly summed it up by declaring that ‘I don’t know if there’s anything so exciting as getting a perfect surf, timing ones shoot off from the waves, riding along the waves…’ http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=whW5exlFoc4
One thing that makes the World Belly Board Championships stand out from all other surfing competitions is the lack of wet-suits. Belly Boarders are not allowed to wear them in the competition so rather than the sight of monochromed sleek surfers you are greeted with views of traditional bathing costumes from knitted all-in-one bathing outfits and structured bathing costumes giving more than a nod to times long since past.
The Museum of British surfing, based in North Devon will also be present with a great collection of wooden boards. They recently discovered that the doyenne of crime writing, Agatha Christie, was one of the country’s first “stand-up” surfers – research has revealed she took up surfing in the early 1920s, when the sport was in its infancy.
‘If you have heard of the Champs and always intended to come along then this is the year. After nine years there are still untold stories, un-seen boards, un earthed talent, inspiring people and wonderful memories out there that can add even more depth to this brilliant event’. The fascinating stories of surfing described by the colourful characters who take part has helped the competition develop a reputation as providing one of the most enjoyable, inclusive and friendly atmospheres you can encounter in the surfing world’, added Nick Holden.
All ages, abilities and experience are welcomed at this free to enter bellyboard extravaganza. Not only is the coveted World Title up for grabs but competitors can also walk away with trophies for best vintage board, best artwork, best swimwear and many more. The “WBBC Bake Off” cake competition provides an opportunity to be involved without getting wet, or you can simply soak up the atmosphere as a spectator.
Take a look at the bellyboarding website for more details and to register at http://www.bellyboarding.co.uk/