Many years ago Scotland hosted an amazing surfing event called the O’Neill Cold Water Classic. It really was a classic because it offered something very unique. The winner of the competition received a genuine ceremonial Highland Sword, a tiny parcel of land that was one square metre, and along with the title deed to the land, the winner was declared a Lord. It was one of a series of events in the O’Neill Cold Water Classics series.
It was a great moment when South African Royden Bryson won the event in 2010. There was snow around, the waves at Thurso were excellent for the event, and Scotland was presented to the globe as a world-class destination for exceptional surfing, despite the cold.
Lord Royden Bryson - 2010 O'Neill Cold Water Classic Winner
Apart from professional surfing, club surfing is also the backbone of any nation’s surfing prowess. In Australia, the club scene is probably the most competitive of all the disciplines, and there is a thriving club scene in California as well.
In Scotland we have the Gathering of the Clans event that is taking place in Fraserburgh this year. It is open to Scottish Surfing Federation affiliated clubs, and the winners get a cool handmade wooden claymore sword. It seems we always want to give away swords to surfers. The event is set to take place on November 2nd/3rd and has the following divisions:Open Men, Open Women, Longboards, Masters, U18 Girls, U18 Boys and an U14 mixed division.
A team of 10 surfers joins together to form a Clan. That Clan has a captain, or a Clan Chief. Clans are awarded points in all 7 divisions, and surfers can enter multiple divisions provided they are eligible.
If you don't have a Clan and want to be a part of this wonderful event then the Scottish Surfing Association might be able to help. Reach out to them here - http://thessf.com/author/ssf/ and tell that you’d like to surf, and they might just be able to find a slot for you.
Team surfing is so cool, especially for the first timer. There is team spirit, and there is support. Surfers look out for each other, and they pick you up and encourage you, no matter how good or bad you’re surfing. When surfers get together as a team they are some of the coolest people around. It’s different to normal competitive surfing, which is a totally individual thing, and all surfers should at some stage in their surfing lives or careers surf in a team. Pretty soon we will see our top rated surfers in the world surfing as teams in the greatest sporting event in the world – the Olympic Games coming up in Japan.
The other important elements of surfing, especially in the development stages, are the grom contests and the grom events. Without groms we have no surfing future. We need groms in every generation in order to keep the sport alive and to keep up progression. In Scotland there is an amazing grom contest called the Sandend Grom Comp, and it’s coming up shortly.
This year the Moray Firth Surf Riders and the Lossie Surf Club host this popular tournament, and it is sponsored by New Wave Surf School and Suds Surf School. It has been running for three years, and it is a wonderful competition with glowing reports. Grom contests are based around two things – young surfers having fun, and young surfers learning to support each other. It can be tough out there when the waves get a little big bigger and more powerful than then groms are used to, putting them slightly out of their comfort zones, and it is a quick ride up the learning curve when it comes to the skills and tricks of surfing in a competitive structure, as opposed to free surfing for fun without any sort of time restrictions and other constraints.
Young surfers do not need to take surfing competitions too seriously though. If they’re not having fun, they’re in the wrong place, but if they are having fun their surfing improves, their approach to life is adventurous and the contest form an integral part of their social and emotional development.
For those surfers, or parents, who are considering getting involved in this event, it is a load of fun, and more details can be found on the Facebook event page here - https://www.facebook.com/events/1300570693457131/