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Surf Kayaking Home Internationals and British Championships Thurso 2018

In October 2018 more than 50 Kayak Surfers gathered from across Great Britain & Northern and Southern Ireland to compete for the most prestigious titles of the year. Two championships rolled into one week of excellence would see Scotland hosting the Home Internationals Team Competition and The British Championships. The event would be based from Thurso on Scotland’s north shore. Caithness and Sutherland are home to legendary surf breaks with the reefs of Thurso having an international reputation for quality. 

Home Internationals – Farr Bay

Day one took a massive effort just to get going. Knowing the swell wouldn’t get into the bay at Thurso, the decision was made to start the team event an hour west along the coast at Farr Bay. As the teams and organisers unloaded in the dark to set up there was an anticipation and nervousness for what the day would bring. The day became one of the highlights of the week. Farr Bay is a wild and wonderful experience and on that Monday the sun shone, and the ocean worked like a wave machine. The competition started at 8am sharp and there was no letting up as our teams competed in heat after heat of beautiful North Atlantic surf. After Round 1 England were leading being pushed hard by a “Rest Of” team and Scotland in third.

As the afternoon progressed the Scots results got better and better and by the end of the day the high-quality surf had lasted so well that the competition was over. The Judges being sat up on the cliff top had amazing views of the action. They had done a massive two-day shift in one. So having packed up for the day, a relax and a drink in the FBI (Farr Bay Inn) was very welcome. The FBI had been open all day looking after us with snacks and coffee from their new machine – a top haven on a beautifully isolated coastline. Such a stunning place! It was hard to believe that only a couple of years ago there was talk of bulldozing the dunes to bring ashore a cable from an offshore wave farm. 

British Championships 

Wednesday saw the start of the action on the reef known to surfers everywhere as The Shitpipe. The Brits had begun. Like the team event groups of four surfers compete against each other in 15 minute heats. Surfers score points for selecting waves that they ride showing radical manoeuvres done with power and flow. Each surfer’s best two wave scores being added together to give their total score. In the team event surfers score points for their country. Now in the individual event it would be only the top two surfers who would progress to the next round. No one could let their guard down for a second, so each heat was a display in itself with each surfer looking to outgun their competitors. With all this competition it was amazing that the levels of camaraderie on the water were so high. 

Thursday dawned with light offshore winds and super clean waves. Perfect! The paddle back out to the take-off spot is in flat water with the wave lifting people up just feet to your right. Even in competition here you are treated to the best seats in the house and it was impossible not to admire the skills on display as boats carved, slashed and ripped along the dark peaty water that hides the reef and give the break its dubious name. Back on shore the music was being turned up, the big drone flew out over the break and the spectators settled down to an afternoon of entertainment. It was time for the finals. This year saw the introduction of a few new categories to the Brits. We had a very competitive Waveski class with an aerial from Hamish Sander laying down a marker that would later see him crowned as Champion. The Mens Grand Master (50+) Short and Long Boat classes showed that there was still more than just a little life in those wily old dogs. Also new for this year were the Ladies Masters (40+) Short and Long Boat classes. Widely acknowledged as producing one of the great heats of the afternoon, I think this class is here to stay. Consistently seeking out the bigger more powerful waves Brigitte Egan made this class her own.

Scotland’s Best Medal Haul

As the dust settled at the prizegiving it dawned that this was one of the best performances by a Scottish squad for many years. Scotland was a very competitive second to England and it was clear that individuals had improved a hugely since the last Homes in Portrush two years previously. Scotland had also taken 18 places in the finals of the British Championships and there was a buzz around the team as thoughts turned to what next. John Ross is Scotland’s Manager and is already talking of how to raise the bar higher, targeting the World Championships in Peru next July.

A great success!

The event was run by volunteers who worked incredibly hard and deserved the Facebook plaudits that everyone who attended gave them… 

“Well done guys and gals probably the best well run comp I've been too and thank you to everyone for making us feel so welcome!”

“You did our sport proud. Truly grateful and inspired by you all"

Many things happened that added to the success of the week. The camaraderie of all of those involved was amazing. Our sport attracts amazing people and I’m proud to be part of that family. We also could not have done this without our supporters and sponsors. All of the contributions we received added incredibly to the event elevating the quality that we could provide in everything from the support in Thurso from our base through to our imposing and spacious judging stand that probably stole the show. Many thanks to all. 

The Weigh Inn Inverness Trophy Centre