(SSF) Scottish National Surfing Championships

Posted - News Posted for Scotland News, World Surfing News.

The SSF Scottish National Surfing Championships happened over the weekend 8-10 April in Thurso. The event has steadily grown from its humble beginnings way back in 1973 to this year’s event which saw over 140 entrants from all over Scotland, live scoring and professional MC Henry Jackson to keep the crowd on land entertained and the surfers in the water updated. Unanimous among spectators and surfers was the great organisation and professional running of the event by the SSF.

Mother nature also played ball and competitors were greeted with 3 days of great waves at Thurso East and the back up venues, Bims Ness and the shitpipe. Open mens, open ladies, masters (35+), longboard, under 18s male and female, under 14s, under 16s and bodyboard divisions were all contested in the famed peaty waters of Thurso over the course of a thrilling weekend.

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Pentland Hotel – Open Mens

The open mens saw the largest number of entrants with 36 surfers in contention for the title. This was the first division to hit the water with the first heat paddling out at 6.30am on the first day of competition. Bleary eyed surfers quickly woke up as Thurso East was dishing out some classic 4-5 foot waves in glassy sunrise conditions. Thurso East devotee and 6 times open winner Chris Noble was in the morning’s first heat and set the standard getting some brilliant tubes and linking several wafting turns all the way through to the inside to easily progress to round 2. Chris has held the title for the last 3 consecutive years and was looking to be the first ever surfer to win it a 4th time.

The waves continued to pump under sunny skies through the early heats and the collective stoke level among competitors and spectators in the car park was high.

By mid morning the higher tide forced surfers to switch tact from barrel hunting to series of turns and hacks; this played to the advantage of power surfers like Chris Clarke and Mark Boyd who progressed through the early rounds with big roundhouses and power hacks keeping them in the pocket, Boyd notching up the day’s highest heat score of 17.7. Gregg Millar from Banff also clearly impressed the judges with a mature style and flow at Thurso’s legendary right hander, seeing him through into the quarter finals.

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By lunchtime there were 16 quarter finalists left as both tide and swell dropped back, but waves remained highly contestable with head high sets rolling in. The quarters saw some great surfing from Mark ’Scratch’ Cameron who lit up his heat with a lengthy floater and perfectly timed wraps back into the wave’s power pocket.

With the quarters all wrapped up the open mens was called off for the day to allow the other divisions to get going.

The semis and final took place the following day at Brims Ness. An early morning call was made and competitors were greeted to 3-4 foot offshore waves at the bowl, Brims Ness’ right hand slab. Despite some crackers coming through conditions made it fairly tricky to pick off a good wave, but the open contestants got in amongst it. Chris Noble was hunting the barrel in the semis and final but the wave didn’t seem to quite open up as it sometimes does. Mark Cameron played it smooth and got the job done with some classic roundhouse wraps and some off the top hacks in the most critical part of the wave over some very shallow sections.

In the end open finalists were Mark Boyd, Chris Noble, Scott Main and Mark Cameron.

The final was the last heat of the day and the tide had dropped considerably making the wave less than ideal and extremely shallow in places, but still remaining contestable. Mark Cameron continued his smooth approach and air dropped into several draining waves, putting it on rail and sending plumes of spray into the howling offshore wind. Mark Boyd brought his well honed backhand attack to the shallow sections of the bowl and linked together several clinical turns, with the wave’s bottom dropping out on the re-entry.

In the end 2015 winner Chris Noble’s campaign to be the first ever surfer to hold the open title for more than 3 years was stamped out by Mark Cameron who brought home the bacon with a 1st place finish, his 6th open mens title in what was a close run thing in a hotly contested final.

Results

1. Mark Cameron
2. Mark Boyd
3. Scott Main
4. Chris Noble

Just Because in Moray – Masters

The masters division was open to males and females over 35 and, like the open, is a hotly contested division. Many surfers from the open, like hot favourites Scott Main and Mark Cameron, were in the mix. In total 21 silver surfers battled it out first at low tide Thurso East and the following day at howling offshore Brims bowl.

The early heats saw competitors taking on spring tide lows at Thurso East with kelpy rides and several left handers being ridden. Ian Masson impressed on a small board that allowed some unique lines and spray throwing hacks. Tiree’s Craig ‘Suds’ Sutherland was also a stand out in the early rounds, showing consistency in his turns and all round solid surfing.

The ultra low tide made for some tricky conditions and slower sets making it a tactician’s game. Nonetheless, Russell Cruikshank managed some solid top to bottom surfing on a couple of set waves and Tim Christopherson got several cheeky cover ups going left.

The semis were held the following day at Bims, with conditions about as different as they could be. Thrown in after the bodyboard division, the masters semi-finalists
had to contend with steep take offs and spitting barrels. ‘Challenging but highly contestable’ was the consensus verdict and those surfers putting themselves in the position were rewarded with some great rides.

Chris Noble and Mark Cameron showed their hunger by pushing over the ledge into some zippy bowl waves, while Craig Sutherland and Scott Main also joined them in the final.

The final saw some exciting surfing go down with Mark Cameron and Scott Main both going for it in very ledgy waves. Scott Main on his backhand got some long rides and solid smashes to get some decent scores and Craig Sutherland also pulled a great off the top reentry on a wave but was unable to find a back up score. The barrel and the masters title eluded Chris Noble yet again, so it was Mr Mark Cameron showing his competition pedigree once more who took the 1st prize, making it an outstanding double open/masters win for Cameron.

Results

1. Mark Cameron
2. Chris Noble
3. Scott Main
4. Craig Sutherland

Seafoam – Open Women

Women’s surfing in Scotland is growing at a healthy rate, reflected by the record turn out for the division this year. The category also has several young surfers vying for the title making it an exciting category. Phoebe Strachan has spent the winter in Thurso, becoming a regular standout in the Thurso lineups and her progression has been acknowledged by the entire Scottish surf community.

The first semi final saw last year’s winner Shoana Blackadder in action against Jen Wood, Megan Mackay and Kirsty Lymburn. Waves had dropped off by the time the women hit the water on the Friday and the lower tide made conditions kelpy and tricky, but with some very contestable waves coming through. All the riders got good scores but it was Shoana who managed to fend off the competition by catching some sucky waves and chalking up some solid scores.

The next semi-final saw Phoebe Strachan in action alongside youngster Iona McLachlan, Sarah Dickson and Catriona McDonald. Phoebe impressed the judges and progressed to the final along with Iona who surfed with a finesse beyond her years, impressing both the judges and crowd.

The final saw 4 amped ladies compete for the title. The high pressure was reflected by an interference call made against Phoebe Strachan after an uncharacteristic drop in. Under International Surfing Association (ISA) guidelines this means the second highest scoring wave is halved.

Kirsty Lymburn surfed confidently in her first ever competition. Kirsty has years of experience surfing reefs throughout Scotland and after practicing at Thurso east and in France this year she felt it was time to compete against Scotland’s best. In the final she had good wave selection and surfed solidly to secure herself a 2nd place finish.

Iona Machlachan stood out again by managing to sneak into a great Thurso East tube, something many surfers two or three times her age struggle to do. She was rewarded with a 3rd place finish. Meanwhile Shoana Blackadder took away the win for the second consecutive year with some great competition surfing.

With so many young up and coming female surfers in Scotland at the moment this remains a great category to keep an eye on.

Results

1. Shoana Blackadder
2. Kirsty Lymburn
3. Iona McLachlan
4. Phoebe Strachan

Longboard

The first round of the longboard division took place on the Friday in idyllic head high waves at Thurso East. 17 longboarders battled it out and despite some new faces it was the old guard who stood out.

Last year’s winner Chris Clarke managed to displace some serious water with some gouging roundhouse cutbacks, while contender Sam Christopherson’s surfing fused style with function, cross stepping his way into several lengthy hang 5s.

With the first round done, the semis and finals were called off until the Sunday morning, the final day of competition.

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Given that the social and awards ceremony had taken place the night before, several loggers did well to be up and on it early for the 8am call. They were rewarded, however, with what Thurso local Mark Boyd commented were probably the best Thurso East conditions for the entire competition. Overhead reeling barrels greeted the surfers with plumes of spit being ejected from several set waves, certainly not your average longboard wave. Nonetheless all surfers showed the longboard’s great versatility by getting in amongst it.

The longboarders put on a great show for the crowd and judges with steep take offs followed by traditional longboard moves all the way through the inside.

The first semi final saw the wave hitting the inside ledge producing some great barrels and Max Ferguson-Hook slotted into one of the tubes of the event, bottom turning perfectly under the wave’s hood only to reemerge with the wave’s spit. Certainly not your average longboard wave and the judges responded with an above average score of 8.5. This earned Max a spot in the final along with old twinkle toes Sam Christopherson, Chris Clarke and Edinburgh surfer Jamie Marshall.

The finalists put on a great show and despite the drizzly weather really lit up a dreary Caithness morning. Chris Clarke put some serious grunt into his turns throwing spray and showing clinical precision with his timing. Jamie Marshall made his ambitions clear from the start, racking up a huge wave count and surfing several different peaks in the Thurso line up. At one point he seemed like the Pied Piper with other finalists trailing after him from one peak to the next, but he was unable to lock in any high scores. Max was also stalking the line up like a hungry seal looking for another barrel but unfortunately the ocean didn’t cooperate. Experience won out in the end and Dunbar surfer Sam Christopherson won the day with some great cutbacks and hang 5s, linking together his manoeuvres with style.

Results

1. Sam Christopherson
2. Chris Clarke
3. Jamie Marshall
4. Max Ferguson-Hook

Coast to Coast – Bodyboard

For the second year running the bodyboard division featured on Scottish Nationals weekend.

While day one of competition saw most of the stand up divisions competing at glassy 4 foot Thurso East, the bodyboard division happened on day 2 at nearby Bims Ness. Early morning and a stiff offshore wind greeted competitors for a morning’s competition at the bowl, the fabled right hand slab at Bims. Ignoring the strong wind and rain, conditions were pretty ideal; clean 3-4ft sets were unloading on the reef and the organisation was quickly set up so competition could get under way.

The bodyboard semi final was the first division to hit the water. The first semi saw last year’s champion Josh Christopherson on it from the start, catching some great set waves and busting a huge air roll after a good barrel, much to the appreciation of the assembled spectators.

Special mention to stand out Thurso surfer Scott Main who gave the event a crack and did well to get inside a couple of hollow waves.

The next semi saw 4 frothing bodyboarders get in amongst the conditions at Bims. Great waves were had by Max Ferguson-Hook and Ed Moody but it was south east bodyboarder Tim Christopherson who stole the show. Despite the good conditions, riders had to be judicious in their wave selection as not all waves were perfect. Tim showed his expertise by picking off one of the waves of the day, dropping deep into a barrel from take off and disappearing for what seemed like an eternity, only to reemerge with the wave’s spit and a raucous response from the crowd. The judges clearly shared the sentiment and awarded Tim the event’s only perfect 10.

The final was a tightly fought affair with all finalists – brothers Tim, Josh and Sam Christopherson along with Rupert Williams – getting some good waves, despite the dropping tide and worsening conditions. It was Tim’s day, however, and although unable to find another throaty barrel he managed to piece together some fine technical rides mixing reverse 360s with critical off the lip rolls over a very shallow inside section. Despite best efforts from the field, Tim claimed first place with elder brother Josh a close second.

After the event Tim commented on the strong close knit bodyboard scene in Scotland that tries to push itself on Scotland’s plethora of excellent bodyboard waves, and the inspiration drawn from travelling boogers, including several international pros, who frequent Scotland’s shores. However, Tim also expressed his desire to see more youngsters in Scotland get into the sport so that bodyboarding in Scotland retains its dedicated crew.

All bodyboarders wish to express their thanks to the Scottish Surfing Federation for its first class organisation of the event and Coast to Coast Surf School in Dunbar for sponsoring the division.

Results

1. Tim Christopherson
2. Josh Christopherson
3. Sam Christoperson
4. Rupert Williams

Juniors

The juniors have a packed year ahead with a coaching camp out in the Hebrides over the summer hosted by Coast to Coast Surf School, followed by the ISA Juniors in Portugal in September and EuroJunior out in Morocco in December. With the standard of junior surfing improving at a rate of knots, the future’s looking bright.

The junior divisions had several categories to choose from: under 18s male, under 18s female, under 16s mixed and under 14s mixed. All four categories were held on the Sunday of competition: First at Thurso beach with the finals at Thurso’s ****pipe (as it was censored for the young guns). Despite its name the break was anything but, providing long, highly contestable waves for the young competitors. However, as MC Henry Jackson pointed out the seemingly fun waves were double or even tripe overhead for several of the pint sized surfers. But that certainly didn’t phase them as each division saw some great surfing.

Under 18 Boys

The under 18s saw a straight final with 4 competitors battle it out on the shitpipe’s long walls. The right handers were serving up the goods and Thurso regular footer Robbie McNicol and Connor Wilson were both showing their local knowledge of the break by showing excellent wave selection and great timing with some good turns. However, the Thurso lads were unable to fend off Tiree goofy footer Finn Macdonald, who displayed some fine backhand surfing whipping his turns back into the wave’s mushy pocket to take the win.

Results

1. Finn MacDonald
2. Robbie McNicol
3. Connor Wilson

Seafoam – Under 18 Girls

The under 18 females saw Iona McLachlan (Thurso) and south-east based surfers Tamzin McQueenie and Clover Christopherson take to the water for a straight final. The girls showed how it was done with some great surfing which was good to watch for the crowd on the pier. Both Tamzin and Clover caught some top waves and seemed unfazed despite not knowing the break too well, with both showing confidence and flair in the water. It was Iona McLachan though, coming off the back of a 3rd place finish in the ladies open, who was the stand out in the final. She showed great wave selection and managed to combo her opponents, taking the event down in style.

Results

1. Iona Machlachlan
2. Clover Christopherson
3. Tamzin McQueenie

Under 16s

The under 16s category was a mixed event with Iona McLachan in the mix with the males. It was Thurso surfer Robbie McNicol’s turn to pip Tiree’s Finn MacDonald to the post in this one though. The shitpipe continued to serve up some long walls for the category and Robbie dropped into some long rides straight after the hooter went, stamping his authority from the get go. Iona surfed well to finish 3rd with Tiree surfer Ben Larg showing great promise to finish 4th.

Results

1. Robbie McNicol
2. Finn MacDonald
3. Iona MacLachlan
4. Ben Larg

Under 14s

The event’s youngest division saw a good turn out and mixed male and female entrants. Tomorrow’s open winners were this year’s under 14s and the division saw a mix of surfers from the east, north and west coasts.

In the end the finalists were Ben Larg (Tiree), Clover Christopherson (Dunbar), Elliot Young (Dunbar) and Malcolm Todd (Dunbar). The youngsters showed some mature surfing, with Clover in particular catching two excellent waves to get the scores and defeat her fellow east coasters. But it was Ben Larg who stole the show by catching some great waves and pulling some controlled snaps and roundhouse cutbacks out of the bag. A well deserved winner and definitely one to watch out for the in the future.

Results

1. Ben Larg
2. Clover Christopherson
3. Elliot Young
4. Malcolm Todd

Scottish National teams were selected based on the above results as follows:

INTERNATIONAL TEAM SELECTION

ISA WORLD GAMES – COSTA RICA, AUGUST 6-14

1. Mark Cameron

2. Mark Boyd

3. Scott Main

4. Chris Noble

1. Shoana Blackadder

2. Kirsty Lymburn

—————————————————————
ISA WORLD JUNIORS – AZORES, SEPT 17-25
—————————————————————
U18
1. Finn MacDonald
2. Robbie McNicol
3. Connor Wilson
A. Andrew Robertson
1. Iona McLachlan
2. Clover Christopherson
U16
1. Robbie McNicol
2. Finn MacDonald
3. Ben Larg
4. Connor Wilson
1. Iona McLachlan
2. Clover Christopherson
————————————————————-
EUROJUNIOR – MOROCCO, DECEMBER 3
————————————————————-
U18 – Men
1. Finn MacDonald
2. Andrew Robertson
U18 – Women
1. Iona McLachlan
2. Clover Christopherson
U16
1. Robbie McNicol
2. Finn MacDonald
U14
1. Ben Larg
2. Clover Christopherson
U18 Men Bodyboard
1.
2.
U18 Women Bodyboard
1.
U16 Bodyboard
1.
2.
U18 Longboard
1.
Judges.
TBC