Hardcore haggis-eating hardnuts

Posted on May 7, 2013

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Way back in ice-age March I was sent to the tundra to help with the Scottish Championships, a very special one this year; the 40th, making it one of the longest running events in the UK. What an honour to be invited up to judge the most extreme, hardcore and grass-roots event on planet earth, been buzzing to spill the beans on this one but. I’ve held back on this blog (purely for selfish financial reasons) because the story is being run in the latest issue of Carve Magazine (issue 142). It’s now been published with a fill report and results, so go and get one and check it out, it’s also got a great interview with John John, a really interesting article by Sharpy about surf photography and a recipe for limpets! To supplement the mag, scroll down for some extra piccies and goss. (As ever, click on the image to make it bigger and better).

Being a surfer in the southwest my natural urge is to go south in winter, so it was a bit of a strange feeling to get on the plane for the 600 mile trip north. It’s only a short flight (and relatively cheap compared to driving up) but landing in Inverness is a world away, you are right in the middle of the highlands, the scenery is breathtakingly stunning and there’s a noticeable nip in the air. My lift, Darron, drove up from Aberdeen and like a lot of Scottish surfers works on the rigs – it’s the ideal surfer occupation; work hard then get loads of time off. Surfers are the same the world over, so it’s easy to hang with the local crew.

The standard of surfing in Scotland has lagged a bit in the past but there was a step change this year at the Championships, with any one of half a dozen guys worthy to be champion, it really does help having several world class waves on your doorstep. The one thing that was noticeable, however, was the distinct lack of groms. I guess it takes a special kind of kid to get all the rubber on and brave the sleet and cold to get your kicks – it’s much easier to race round Lidl’s car park doing donuts. Such a same when there is an far superior play park just a stones throw away.

The word ‘hardcore’ is banded about like wine corks on a Saturday nite, but hardcore was redefined when Chris Noble surfed five times on the Sunday in macking six-foot Thurso East with a wind chill of minus five. If you’ve ever stood in the car park/ farm yard at the famous Castle reef, ankle deep in slurry you’ll understand……  (Contest report below).

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From Carve Magazine (Issue 142) :

Noble on song at Scottish Champs

ESTER SPEARS


 
Chris Noble orchestrated a magnificent double victory at the Scottish Championships held in brutally cold but pumping conditions at Thurso in March. Nobles positioning was flawless and wave selection impeccable providing a masterclass that peaked in the finals. It was testament to hours tube time he has put in at the break that even after the gruelling 5 heat marathon he was still soaring through the sleet. He didn’t have it all his own way however, and was pushed hard by an emerging crew of young men who know the world class wave inside out, special mentions go to rock-solid Chris Clark, fleet-footed Mark ‘Scratch’ Cameron and Andy ‘Hamper’ MacLeod, who’s blistering man-turns where straight out of the Cardoso cookbook.

 

This year marked the 40th Anniversary of the Scottish Surfing Championships with the first ever being held at Bettyhill in 1973. The event was opened by local Highland Councillor, John Rosie and his colleagues who provided a warm welcome for t he surfers and officials with a (free) drinks reception at the splendid Caithness Horizons. It’s been a big year of developments for the re-organised Scottish Surfing Federation and a successful funding bid to the Lottery and the Highland Council resulting in lots of new contest kit. At the reception the councillor re-affirmed his intention to provide a ‘watersports’ facility, to include hot showers at the beach (an idea first floated at the UKPST Pro Junior last autumn). Huge support was also provided by event sponsors Granite Reef, Tiki and Nortchore, which was hugely appreciated.

 

The event opened at Brims in solid and clean three footers, the early rounds some hot action at the bowl and the culmination of the Junior heats. Jamie Bain from Fraserburgh layed down some nice turns to take the Junior crown ahead of Andrew Robertson from St. Andrews. A special mention must go to the only Junior girl competitor, Megan McKay, who toughed it out in a five surfer final with the boys and refused to be intimidated by the break or bullied by the lads and snagged a few nice ones. The experience gave her the confidence to enter the womens event the next day where she braved the paddle out to an intimidating Thurso East. Saturday night saw some brave sacrifices as the Scottish surfing community held its yearly catch up and socialized as only it knows how to.

 

Haggis, black pudding and oatcakes were ideal breakfast preparation for Sundays marathon. The north swell had kicked in and the reef at Thurso was grooming the six to eight foot sets into long spankable walls. Some were saying it was the most epic conditions in the contests forty year history. Straight away some heavy rail was been layed down by the main players, Mark Boyd and Simon Treblicock has good early heats and Hamper bust out a 9.5 for two gorgeous hits.

 

As the draw narrowed the conditions deteriorated slightly, Shoana Blackadder conquered al to take the Womans title, followed by Mark Boyd showing everyone that you can shred a on a nine footer as well as a sixone by taking the Longboard title ahead of the evergreen Iain Masson. ChrisNoble took an historic double win taking both Open and Senior titles, at the presentation he praised the tenacity of this fellow competitors saying it was the hardest title he’d won. He also announced that he was standing down as treasurer of the SSF to concentrate on reviving the Caithness Boardriders surf club.

 

William Watson, Scottish Surfing Federation President described the event as “An outstanding surf demonstration in challenging 6-8 ft surf at Thurso East marking the pinnacle of Scottish Surfing Performance in the national championships 40 year history.” But then he was never was any good at public speaking.

 

RESULTS AS FOLLOWS:  –

 

JUNIORS

1st Jamie Bain (Fraserburgh) 2nd Andrew Robertson (St Andrews) 3rd Greg Millar (Banff)

 

OPEN

1st Chris Noble (Thurso) 2nd Chris Clark (Thurso) 3rd Mark Cameron (Fraserburgh)

 

LADIES 1st Shona Blackadder (Thurso) 2nd Dee Ripoll (Sandend) 3rd Megan McKay (MacDuff)

 

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