The irrepressible Mr. Eric Davies

Posted on April 15, 2021


I was going to start this blog post with the line. “When I started surfing in the seventies” which you will be thankful to hear has been binned in favour of “Recent developments have got me thinking about the sport of surfing in the UK and Ireland”.  That still doesn’t sit comfortably because  I am not easy with the term Kingdom, it implies an undemocratic state (however true this may in fact be), and also the ‘UK’ is far from ‘united’; there is inequality and hatred, driven by the state and others, to divide us all and rule. As surfers, we ‘don’t give a fuck about politics’ is a common mantra but increasingly it is becoming apparent that we have to ‘give a fuck’ or else our playground will be full of sewage, our camping spots will become beachside appartments and our access to secret spots will be denied.

What are these recent developments? They are not really recent developments and that’s another reason why pyramid opening sentences can come unstuck. Bear with me reader. I was just thinking about two surfing events that happened this weekend, both personal to me. Number One:  The successful British Championships hosted by the Scottish Surfing Federation in Caithness and Number Two’s: North Devon Legend, Eric Davies getting a four page spread in the latest Carve Magazine. It’s a great issue and available now at all struggling surf shops across these cold islands that we live in. (Interestingly the acronym of ‘cold islands that we live in’ is …… CLITWILLY ! That must mean something?) Also that has just reminded me of an AGM of the BSA that I attended, in Thurso back in 88. In a crowded village hall, a lad from St. Agnes (forgotten his name , remind me in the comments), half way through proceedings, stood up on a chair with a banger tied to his knob and let it off! No kidding. There was much hilarity from surfers present but the laughter turned to silence by a stern telling off from the headmaster, christians and tax inspectors at the top table. Perhaps not the first time that the ‘leaders’ were so out of touch with the grass roots, but boy, I want those maverick days back so much.


The British Comp was a success on many levels not least the coverage; live scores, live stream and connection to a remote and beautiful part of Scotland and the grassroots feel. As a remote viewer I was impressed, and cannot help thinking of the modern architect of the SSF, Mr William Watson, now located to Western Australia (lucky bastard) and how he will be beaming about the fruit of the trees he planted, over a few cold ones hopefully.

It just made me think about how far we’ve come as a surfing nation and the role that surfing magazines have played to document that history. That should have been the opening line….

Pretty chuffed to get an article in the mag. it’s been a while.. So it was a pleasant surprise when I got message from Carve Magazine, it was in Cornish, so had to decipher it, as there were no sentences and was direktly succinct – like their was an imminent deadline or invasion about to happen. It said. “(We’re) looking for a legend of the line-up from North Devon, would you like to do a write up and maybe a portrait? Loose angle and usual poor pay…”

I’m used to poor pay as back in the day, when I was a regular contributor to Carve, doing their contest reports and assorted other shit it was normal. But far play to the mag, in very difficult times, as Dolly Parton (or was it Minnie Riperton) once said “they have survived.” Which is as much as we all can do. Still breathing oxygen amongst the bubbles.

The magazine spans a history of early 1990’s to current day, and collectors are already humming in and around the early and rare issues. With the online thirst for immediate news and developments, surf magazines have had to adapt to endure and many have not made it through no-mans land to the trench of sustainability. A notable loss has been the demise of the iconic Surfer magazine, after sixty years of publication, which sent a shock waves around the world of publishing. Who knows what role Covid has played in the game but Carve has adapted by playing to it’s strengths.  And. In my opinion> chosen a legitimate path to mirror and observe, the current surfing times here at home and telegraph them back to the community: Grassroots, knobs, bangers and homegrown rippers are back! Amen to that and fair play to Steve for a more earthy feel to the latest mag.

Anyway, Legends of North Devon are many; Kift, Power, Heyland, Guy, Palmer, Carter, Hall, Heggie, Allen, Rannochan, Freeman, Clifton to name but a few who are well known to the media and there are a host of other underground legends, some in their own minds. However, they wouldn’t want me to mention their names as it would spoil their underground status….  However, there is one underground hero who does deserve mainstream respect and recognition: Al Atherton.

 A shaper and soul surfer to the end.  Always out the back hunting the biggest waves with his clockwork paddling legs held high, and such a gent on land, an inspiration and very a sad loss. RIP Little Al. Little by little the old ways are eroded and we forget their path.

In the spirit of Little Al, who was basically just a frothing grom all his dare-devil life. Someone else who fitted the description of Legend of the Line up was his mate, Eric Davies, still surfing in his 70th year and was around when the first issue of Surfer magazine was published, which is legendary in itself.

“The Eric Davies Surfing Experience is not a rock band, it’s a bandwagon. One that has been on a roller-coaster, marauding through fifty odd years of Brit surfing history from 1969 to today.” Is the opening line of the article in Carve 206, check it out is you’re interested in North Devon surfing history or opening lines by amateur writers.

Eric’s life is the history of modern surfing and I’m so proud to tell his story and in a way, so many of his underground peers who were the pioneers of: CLITWILLY surfing.

Here are the pix from two cold days at the beach in March. If you want to read the story you’ll have to buy the mag.(If not, beg, borrow or wait until it’s in the dentists) .



And here’s the bonus; Ashley Braunton top turn on a crisp, peeling, Saunton wall that would rank anywhere