Despite ‘the Seaweed’ giving us a grim forecast, this delighful little contest again continued its tradition of getting lucky. And so, as an icy blast of poo-flavoured winds poured over from the continent, an increasingly keen crew of junior surfers descended on Rest Bay, Porthcawl, to wait for the massive tide to provide enough waves on which to wiggle their way into the judges’ favour.
Saturday was a day of waiting, with comp director Stu Bentley opting to gamble on running the entire event on Sunday. It was a decision that worked out with literally five minutes of tide to spare the following day.
With most of the competitors weighing less than their surfboards, the Under 12s took to the water first thing Sunday morning, with a surprisingly high standard. Young Billy Sharp from the Gower was ripping it up on his mini-board, making Jack Davies really work for the eventual win. Tasman Knight and Ed Bresnan also impressed.
Millie Little put together a near-flawless heat to take down the Under 12 Girls, leaving Peony Knight and the Poutney sisters, Patsy and Connie, scrapping around for the remains.
Both Under 14 categories were also excitingly competitive, with all spectators leaving the beach confident that there is indeed a bright future for Welsh surfing. Sam Harwood caned it in the Boys division, while Harriet Knight saw off Ainsley Richards in the Girls. Considering Ainsley only competed for the first time a week previously (when she lined up for Welsh Coast Bs in the Inter Clubs), this was a real feat, and she’s sure to go one better in the near future.
The Under 16s was the showpiece of the day though – with the highest Welsh boy and girl winning a trip to the Grom Search European Final, during this summer’s Rip Curl Boardmasters in that Cornish place (the name of which no self-respecting Welshman can ever say or write in public).
In the Girls event Swansea’s Hannah Griffiths was the cat that got the cream. By finishing runner-up to the stylish Megan Burns, she earned her ticket to the Grand Final. Again, the standard in difficult high-tide conditions was through the roof – with all competitors linking smooth, on-rail surfing throughout.
The Boys event saw an upset in the semis, as Tom Good failed to find a back-up wave in a stacked heat. This left the door open for a two-horse race between Porthcawl’s Max Tucker and Gower lad Josh Hammett.