UK Open Surfboat Championships 2009 and The Italians

The one day UK Open Surfboat Championship 2009 continues to make strides into the world of rowing.

This year a rowing crew from Milan, Italy arrived at the event prepared to experience the thrill of surfboat rowing. The Canottieri Milano crew of Paolo Maneo, Elia Taddia, Fillipo Moscatelli, Francesco Stoppa and Francesco Fumagalli had seen an event video on YouTube and decided to fly over to compete.

The Celtic Longboat Rowers entered two crews ‘The Tenby Top Guns’ and a misfit crew made up of Australians and CLB rowers ‘The Nottingham Sheriffs’ fresh from rowing in the Ridley Scott film "Robin Hood" due for release in May 2010.

From the river rowing clubs entries came from ‘The London City Slickers’ – London RC, ‘Trentside Trash’ – Nottingham RC, ‘The Cambridge Blues’, ‘The Molesey Marauders’, ‘The Bristol Breakers’ – City of Bristol and ‘The Twickenham Tridents’ – TwRC. The UK Surfboat crews, current European and UK Champions Porthtowan Blue Bali, The Bude Rockets, The Barracudas, The Llantwit Major Crocodiles and The Perranporth Desperados also entered the event.

Organisers of the event were greeted with a sizeable surf on Saturday August 1st and after a meeting with crew managers all agreed to delay the start of the event to 1/2 tide and hopefully surf conditions would ease and the weather improve. Saunton Sands is a very flat beach meaning that as the surf gets bigger there is an increasing amount of white water to row through to get past the break and the interval between the waves can be very short. This makes for a bumpy hard row out to the turning bouys, but good long rides on the swells on the return journey.

Each visiting crew were kindly loaned a surfboat and allocated a sweep or second sweep should there be a crew clash during the heats. It was also agreed by the sweeps of the womens crews to run the first round of the Mens races and then decided if conditions were safe enough for the Womens event.

The Italians grabbed a 3rd place in their 1st heat of the 1st round with Nick Beringer (UKSRL President) safely guiding them through the surf. They were wide eyed, grinning and promptly fitted a small webcam to the Qtr bar of the surfboat for the 2nd and 3rd rounds and will be putting their race footage up on YouTube. The Tenby Top Guns were the first crew to roll thier surfboat on the way home. Fortunately the safety cover of the Saunton Sands IRB and RNLI Jet Ski stood by should they be needed.

The three rounds of racing are all about accruing points in order to progress forward to the 2 x 5 boat semi finals. The wheels fell off the Perranporth Desperados campaign when they rolled in the 3rd round and received a DQ and no points.

Semi final 1 was made up of:

  • Trentside Trash,
  • Canottieri Milano,
  • Porthtowan Blue Bali,
  • Llantwit Major Crocodiles
  • The Molesey Marauders


Semi final 2 was made up of

  • The London City Slickers,
  • The Bristol Breakers,
  • The Barracudas,
  • The Twickenham Tridents
  • The Nottingham Sheriffs.


Credit must go to the number of river crews that made it to the semis in such a surf !

Elimination time……….only the first three crews from each semi would progress to the six boat final…….who would be fit enough to keep on racing over a longer course due to the high tide?

In the Mens final two crews stood out, Porthtowan Blue Bali and The Barracudas (formerly from City of Bristol), both crews dominated the final from the start and it came down to who could hold the wave all the way to the beach and sprint to the finish flag. Congratulations to Porthtowan Blue Bali for retaining their UK Open Surfboat Championship title, The Barracudas 2nd and The Molesey Marauders 3rd.

1st Porthtowan Blue Bali – Nick Healey, Tim Bracey, Mladen Maranovil, Tom Hanna, Sweep – Gary Walters
2nd The Barracudas – Chris Sparrow, Russell Croft, Martin Downey, Dominic Hall, Sweep – Mark Bannister
3rd The Molesey Marauders – Pete Wells, Max Stallard, Tom Stallard, Gavin Weeks, Sweep – Nick Beringer
4th The Bristol Breakers – Alex Cheney, Will Downey, Tony Larkman, Morgan Specht, Sweep – Peter Gaisford
5th Twickenham Tridents – Mike Dowell, Scott Smith, Adam Ellis, Estevao Pape, Sweep – Richard Meadmore
6th Trentside Trash – Roland Evans, Edward Whiteley, Nigel Jones, Matthew Ballaam, Sweep – Mike Lord

A big thank you must go to the helpers, the RNLI, Saunton Sands SLSC, the finish line judges, the recorders and the Event Referee – Spike Gaisford. Thanks also to Steve at The Secret Spot for providing the campsite and Andy Murfett of The White Lion for the BBQ and use of his beer garden for the presentation ceremony. Congratulations to raffle winners Laura Hetherington – Wategate Bay Hotel voucher (worth £250) and Alex Cheney for the Tandem Sky Dive voucher (worth £200)

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