Surf predictions for the 16th Jesus Longboard Classic were quite difficult this weekend just gone, so after much discussion, communication with stakeholders, Surfline, the CSUK team, and a few extra prayers, contest director, Phil Williams, decided to tweak the contest so that the whole event was held on one longer day on Saturday, as opposed to the planned two.

Predictions for Sunday were going to be very small and strongly onshore with a north-westerly wind, and not really contestable.

So after communicating this decision to all involved, around 60+ long boarders checked in to the Tubestation at 8 am on Saturday morning for what was going to be a real fun and community-based day.

The event, which is held at Polzeath Beach in conjunction with the Tubestation and organisers Christian Surfers UK, is traditionally one of the last longboard events of the season. However, as in 2023 it was brought forward to the month of April, which on this occasion definitely paid off.

The event covers six categories and is always sold out on most of them, although this year there were a few noticeable no-shows as a number of the English and Welsh regulars were still travelling back from the ISA World longboard Championships.

The Christian Surfers crew gathered on Friday night to set up the venue and were back on site at 7am on Saturday morning ready to go with the hot drinks and breakfast which were free to competitors and well received.

Women’s champion Mali Harbour. Photo Any Holter.

Contest director Phil was quite relieved after an early morning surf check confirmed there was indeed swell, and he was pretty confident that once the tide dropped back off the high tide mark, it would clean up and there would be good contestable waves all day.

Huge thanks to all the competitors who got their on time, and in fact the first heat started slightly early, which meant that after all twenty-eight heats were run it was still only 5.15pm in the afternoon.

The contest kicked off with the first round of the men’s open, and in order to fit everything in the first and second rounds were scheduled for 15 minutes, but with a solid swell coming through everybody got a good share of waves and no issues from anybody.

The contest ran smoothly with a very high calibre of surfing, but with a really friendly atmosphere, and it was great to see a number of new competitors specially in the women’s division which was fantastic, and let’s hope they continue to compete in the other longboard events.

With regards to the weather, it’s fair to say that the beach-based officials had their work cut out with some spells of strong rain, but the good news was that the wind was offshore all day, and the swell cleaned up nicely, and once the tide turned there was some excellent longboard waves pushing through right the way up to the final heat.

There was great surfing in all divisions, and when it came to the finals all the heats were pretty stacked. In the over 60s event a great performance by Colin Bright saw him take the victory ahead of fellow Llantwit surfer and brother Gwyn, with Backwell’s Ben Keay in 3rd, and south coasts Steve Broad taking 4th.

Open champion and North Devon local hero, Ashley Braunton. Ashley comments "Stoked to start the year with a win and see the training paying off" Photo by Andy Holter.

Open champion and North Devon local hero, Ashley Braunton. Ashley comments “Stoked to start the year with a win and see the training paying off” Photo by Andy Holter.

Moving through the age categories in the over 50’s  St Agnes surfer Matt Thomas retained his title with a commanding display throughout. Chris Webb pushing him all the way in second, with Rob Davin and Damien Hooker taking 3rd and 4th spot respectively.

The over 35’s division is always one of the most popular divisions, this year there was a new name on the trophy, Appledore’s Greg Norman, taking the victory with strong performances right the way through the competition, but chased all the way by Braunton’s Ashley Braunton in a very tight final. Taunton’s Rob Davin followed up his 3rd in the over 50s with another 3rd in this division with Newquay’s Adrian Napper taking 4th place.

The under 18’s (mixed event) always showcases the future of the longboard sport in the UK, and on form St Agnes surfer Arthur Randell retained the trophy in a five-person final, for the third year running, ahead of Sennen surfer Rowan Curbishley. Penzance Reggie Roynon, took 3rd ahead of Mali Harbour, and Syd Randell took 5th.

Newquay’s Sophie Williamson taking the highline on the nose. Photo Andy Holter.

There was a new name on the trophy for the women’s title as well with Polzeath’s Mali Harbour taking the win, and Beth Leighfield taking 2nd in a very close final. Newquay’s Sophie Williamson did a great job in 3rd, and Jen Pendlebury in yet another final in 4th.

Kourosh from Zed Sleds slaying a little runner. Photo: Andy Holter

In a fantastic final, Braunton’s Ashley Braunton came through to take his first victory of the open division in this event, and gave a lovely winning speech at the presentation, explaining that his first ever contest on a longboard was at the Jesus Surf classic in Croyde when he was aged 15 (Over 20 years ago) and that inspired him to start competing, what a great story. Arthur Randell who had been surfing so well all weekend took second place ahead of Falmouth’s Nathanial Keating, local boy Kourosh Zahedi in 4th and in a five-person final Chris Weston took the final position.

The award ceremony took place in a packed Tubestation just after 5 pm, and the presentation started with a few moments of silence, and a prayer remembering three special people who sadly in the last year passed away, local Polzeath resident, and Tubestation stalwart Libby Taylor, North Devons great longboarder and friend to many Shaun Marlow, and much loved CS member who had judged and competed at the event last year Sabina Edwards. A reminder we never know what is round the corner so always make the most of every day.

Each of the winners received a stunning trophy designed by CS member Chris Clark and great prizes supplied by Christian surfers and other key sponsors.

A massive thanks for all involved in putting on this really successful event and in particular for all of the surfers who competed, the beach-based CS volunteers, and of course everybody involved with running the event and the hospitality back at Tubestation. Era also did a great job with the water safety.

Without sponsors this event could not happen so a huge thank you for those that have been involved in previous years, Finisterre, Georges Surf School, 10 Over Surf Shop, Kosin and Ocean Frog, and a big welcome to new sponsors Surfs Up, Wave hunters and Waveland. It was also great to have Julie from ear plug provider Wave Ear plugs, offering free surfers ear checks and moulds, a great service which many of the surfers and volunteers took up.

Also a big thanks to British Longboard Union, and Hotdoggers for ongoing support, and Jamie at Surfline, for great up to date Surf Forecasts.

Action and presentation photos attached from Andy Holter, and the video edit will follow from Will Reddaway.

Even though the contest had finished on Saturday, Christian Surfers held the surfers blessing as planned at 9 am on Sunday with a number of the competitors as well as the volunteers attending, having a great time of fellowship and sharing stories from the day before with the Tubestation regular church crew.

A time of reflection to start the day off, and for those wishing a blessing of sea water.

The event forms the first part of the Jesus surf series with the second part taking place in Croyde over the weekend of September 21st and 22nd September with the 32nd Jesus Surf Classic.

Under 18’s Finalists

Master finalists.

Womens finalists

Open finalists

Grandmaster finalists.