In 1981, a small surfing competition took place on Fistral beach in Newquay. Fast forward to 2014, and Boardmasters is one of the biggest competitions on the UK surf scene. It’s also a major beach and music festival incorporating skateboarding, BMX, after parties, beach bbq’s, film viewings and a whole heap more! And with an increasingly diverse line-up, there’s something for everyone, making surfing even more accessible to those who have never tried it.
2014 was my first year at Boardmasters and it was a great opportunity for me to watch some live surfing action, instead of having to watch it on a tv screen at home. Fistral has some of the best waves in the UK and with Hurricane Bertha blowing into Cornwall on the Sunday, the swell really picked up. With the Watergate Bay site closed for safety reasons, all eyes were firmly on the surf at Fistral beach for the final day. Having developed a bit of a crush for longboarding, I was stoked to see local legend Ben Skinner clinch the longboard title!
I’m also a huge fan of female surfing, and followed up and coming surfer Libby Vernon’s progress, as well as Newquay’s local Corinne Evans, who took part in her first ever Boardmasters this year. Corinne, who originates from the landlocked West Midlands like me, has only been surfing for 6 years and it was great to see her progress through to round 2.
Corinne is a real example of how you can get into surfing from any age and I was stoked to see my friends at The Surfing Sumo, who had a stand at Watergate Bay, encouraging so many people, young and old, to book a surf lesson and try surfing for the first time! It was through a lesson with Kingsurf that my surfing adventures took off and I haven’t looked back since. During the Boardmasters weekend, I took the opportunity to hook up with Kingsurf to find out how much progress I had made during the past year and the feedback I got was really positive and encouraging, despite being landlocked! I hope that many of the Boardmasters visitors had lessons, are now converted to surfing and got that stoked feeling – the one that only a surfer knows!
As well as the surf village at Watergate Bay, Fistral had its own share of stalls and I was pleased to see a presence from the RNLI and Surfers Against Sewage (SAS), raising money for their amazing causes. A whale made out of plastic bottles on the SAS stand was a stark reminder of the ongoing marine litter problem and I hope it encouraged a few more people to donate or join.
The atmosphere at Watergate Bay really came alive at night with some fantastic bands catering for all musical tastes. My personal favourites were the appropriately titled ‘Mavericks’ stage (after the infamous California big wave surf spot) which hosted rock and alternative bands like the Dead Kennedys, and the chilled out ‘View’ stage overlooking the Atlantic. What better scenery to enjoy some laid back, acoustic artists like the fab Polly Money?
But it was the legendary Snoop Dogg who stole the show, headlining the main stage on Saturday. Blasting through hits like ‘Gin and Juice’ and ‘Drop it Like its Hot’, Snoop got the crowd fired up and dancing even through the pouring rain.
Despite its evolution over the years, surfing remains at the heart of Boardmasters and for me, it was the sole reason I wanted to attend. The addition of skateboarding, BMX, stalls and music has undoubtedly appealed to a much wider audience but has in turn shown that audience just how awesome surfing is.
Boardmasters not only brings the surfing community together, but opens its doors and makes surfing accessible to all of us.
So, if you missed out this year, look out for next year’s event!