Following a successful summer season, Llantwit Major Surf Boat Team head to Biarritz next week to compete against teams from across the UK, Europe and Australia in the Infinite Ocean 2016 event. Biarritz, on France’s south coast, is a renowned surf spot with a ferocious wave breaking onto a steep beach, promising exciting racing for the spectators and elevated stress levels for the competitors! The racing will take place over three days with an Inter-Nations event first, where the Llantwit team will be representing Wales, followed by two days of racing in The Open and Masters events. The racing will be covered each day by a French TV news station.
The men’s squad racing in France is Mike Lord, Gethin Edwards, Ross Fraser, Josh Edwards, Mathew Rowlands, Ben Thomas and Matthew Wright. Each member of the squad is a qualified beach lifeguard and along with the other members of Llantwit Major Lifeguard Club, give up some of their time to carry out voluntary patrols of the beach during the summer months. The team have been training hard in the build up to Infinite Ocean and travel to France with a real hope of returning with a medal, despite the calibre of the opposition drawn from around the world, which includes former Olympic rowers.
The team would like to thank their sponsors Clive Edwards Contracts Ltd and The Farmer’s Pantry, without who’s generous support they would not be competing in France. Thanks also to Atlantic Crossfit in Barry, who have helped to whip the boys into race shape. Surf Boat rowing is a very sociable summer sport and the team are always looking for new members.
On September 11th and 12th 2015 both men and ladies Surf boat crews from Llantwit Major Surf Lifesaving Club travelled to the wide expanses of Saunton Sands, North Devon for rounds 5 and 6 of the UK Surf Rowers League. Although lying second going into the event, buoyed by their success at the UK Open , the men’s team “The Crocodiles” were looking to win the league. The ladies, “Major Drama” were hoping to cement an excellent 4th position in their inaugural season.
For round 5 the teams arrived to the sight of a pumping 4/5ft swell with a heavy cross shore wind. The crocodiles were sent out by organisers to “test” the conditions. Several big hits later and some strong sweeping from Mike “Big Wave” Lord the Crocodiles returned to shore. Unfortunately the conditions were too rough for the ladies to compete, but all men’s crews decided to proceed. Two rounds (four races) of pure lottery ensued with positions very much dictated by the sea conditions. The teams from Portreath, Croyde, Newport, St Agnes, Porthtowan and Llantwit decided to postpone the remainder of the racing until the next day. Everyone decamped to sample the kind hospitality of Andy and Claire Bray’s BBQ on Saturday night.
Returning to the beach on Sunday, the conditions couldn’t have been better. Clean 2-3ft surf with a slight offshore breeze. Nursing a few bruised backs, thumbs, bums and heads (Toyah) from the previous afternoon and evening, Major Drama and The Crocodiles warmed up and were ready for action. Following an unlucky second in the postponed round from the previous day, the Crocodiles swept the board recording victory in all 3 races of round 6. Major Drama rowed well and looked certain of a victory in one round had not another boat lost control in the surf and the team had to take evasive action to avoid a collision.
The final race of the day was a mixed crew “Novice Sweep” race in which Ross Fraser of LM was leading the league after 4 rounds, only one point ahead of a crew from St Agnes. Some excellent rowing and sweeping ensued as Ross negotiated the surf conditions with aplomb. The team even received a fly-by from an RAF Sea King Helicopter, hovering just above them on manoeuvres from nearby RAF Chivenor. In winning this race, Ross secured the overall Novice sweep championship.
After a great season everyone is mightily proud of the achievements of both squads. The Crocodiles celebrated their inaugural UK Open title and finished in their highest ever league position of 2nd. Major Drama finished a fantastic 4th in their first season and have excelled in every aspect that is good about team amateur sports. We look forward to their ensured progress over coming seasons and success isn’t too far away.
Any prospective surf rower can get in touch via twitter, facebook or the Llantwit Major SLSC website. Pre-season training starts in the calm surroundings of Cardiff Bay after the new year. This is the perfect time for new starters to feel the thrill of rowing a surf boat without the worry of waves to hinder their progress. Everyone is welcome to come and try this exhilarating team sport that takes you to beautiful places in the UK and around the world, making new lifelong friends all along the way.
Both squads would like to thank Clive Edwards Contracting, Overboard, Gewfy/Filtrate, Force S&C and Atlantic Way Crossfit for their continued support. If you’d like to sponsor these crews in any way please get in touch via the mediums already listed above.
Photo L-R: Gethin Edwards, Toyah Newman, Matt Wright, Emma Kaye, Josh Edwards, Mike Lord, Matt Rowlands, Ben Thomas, Kate Tomley, Ross Fraser. Not shown: Cath Thomas, Heather Webber and Elaine Froggett
Llantwit Major Lifeguard Club End of Season Fundraising BBQ and Tunes.
Saturday 3rd October, 7pm till late.
Live Music from Richard and Stuart ‘Cabin Fever’
@ Llantwit Major Lifeguards Clubhouse, Llantwit Major Beach
BBQ with meat supplied by Farmers Pantry – £5 for a meal. Cheap bar run by our local lifeguards.
Open to all adult members, friends and family. Come along and catch up on all your summer adventures and help raise funds for the club.
If you can bring a bowl of pasta, salad or some cakes etc, all the better! But don’t feel obliged.
Nipper & Junior Parents & anyone else!: If you could provide a Raffle Prize (wine, chocs, etc.) for this event, that would be much appreciated. Please bring it to training on a Monday / Thursday and give to one of the coaches by Mon 28th Sept latest.
Please RSVP if you are coming so we can gauge numbers for Food/Drink etc.
On August 5th 2015, Llantwit Major Surf Boat Crew (The crocodiles) travelled to Saunton Sands, North Devon for the UKSRL, UK Open Championships. As the name suggests the “Open” event is available to all competitors across all age groups. Along with 7 other crews from Great Britain and one Dutch crew, each team had to battle their way through a round robin of 3 races followed by straight knockout semi-finals and a first past the post final.
Already lying 2nd after 4 rounds of this years UK league and with increased concerted training throughout the year, the squad felt confident of being competitive. However, a standalone event can bring some big (literally) rowers out of the closet! With this in mind the team wasn’t surprised to find former Olympians and GB rowers had been drafted in to bolster already competitive crews. That said the team consisting of Gethin Edwards, Matthew Rowlands, Josh Edwards, Ross Fraser and Ben Thomas set about their business by winning the first and third rounds. Thus comfortably qualifying in second place for the knockout stages and displaying good boat speed and team cohesion in the process. The semi-final was negotiated in 3rdplace whilst easing down to conserve energy for the final.
All discussions prior to the final centred around rowing “their own race”, executing their start, turn and finish aspects perfectly, leaving nothing behind and how they all still felt good due to the training they’d put in. Saying all that the final still contained a crew from Porthtowan that had won this event for 8 years running, contained 3 GB rowers and are reigning World and European open champions. Lined up in the next lane to the perennial champions , Llantwit were ready to give them their best shot. From the standing start fastest (as ever) into the boat Llantwit set off at speed with
a great but smooth stroke rate set by Matt Rowlands. With Josh Edwards providing the main engine work in the centre of the boat ably assisted by “Freshman” Ross Fraser, by the halfway point Porthtowan had only a 1 length lead. Sweep Gethin Edwards nailed the 180 degree turn allowing the crew to turn in 3 strokesand gaining valuable time on other crews in a closely fought race. Out of the turn Llantwit were second slightly ahead of the Dutch, another Porthtowan crew, Croyde and St Agnes. Heading shoreward behind the boat came a small but surfable wave. This was it, catch the wave and the lead could be eroded. But equally any teams behind who caught it could pass Llantwit and ruin a seasons hard work. As described the wave wasn’t big and thus a surf boat has to be moving as fast as possible to have any chance of catching it. TheCrocodiles put the hammer down amongst the noise of all other teams urging to do the same. However the training paid off, with a huge effort and watching the other crews fall back Llantwit caught the wave pulling alongside Porthtowan. Still rowing, with 100metres to the shore followed by a 50m running sprint to the flag the front two teams were neck and neck. With both teams now on the same wave it would be down to the execution of the sprint by bowman Ben Thomas. Both bowmen sprang from their boats simultaneously but fortunately the Welshman had the legs of his Cornish counterpart and got to his flag first. Soundly cheered on by the watching crowd.
It is the first time the UK Open trophy has come to Wales and after 10 years of steady progress the team is immensely proud of their achievement. It shows progress from winning last years Masters (Age 30+) World championships, as the UK Open is arguably a tougher event to bring home. The team would like to mention their captain Mike “Big Wave” Lord and key team member Matt Wright who couldn’t attend on the day, without them it wouldn’t have happened. Friends and family have had to do without husbands, boyfriends, dads, sons and brothers for the summer and the team wants to extend their thanks to them. Moreover Sponsors Gwefy/Filtrate, Clive Edwards Contractors and Overboard have supported us with kit and equipment. Each member of the Llantwit crew is a qualified lifeguard and voluntarily patrols Llantwit Major Beach. The surfboat section of Llantwit Major Surf lifesaving Club continues to go from strength to strength. The ladies crew lies 4th in the UK league in its inaugural season and a second Surfboat is being purchased by the club. You can contact either Llantwit Major Surf Boat or Llantwit Major Surf Lifesaving via the contact page. More sponsors and new members (men and women) are gratefully received and the boat crew trains off Barry Island most Thursday evenings in the summer, so please come along and don’t forget your speedos!
Principality Building Society came to the rescue of Llantwit Major SLSC Juniors when they needed new vests to protect them at the beach. Wales’ largest building society provided the new kits to the juniors at the club as part of Principality’s Kit of the Month competition.
Principality Building Society’s Llantwit Major branch manager, Andrew Clark, said: “We were delighted to be able to support the junior lifesavers in Llantwit Major.
“We are proud to be at the heart of our local communities and Llantwit Major Surf Life Saving Club does a fantastic to support the people of Llantwit Major. Hopefully these new vests will help to protect them during both the summer and winter months and help them in their great efforts to protect people on our local beach.”
With the growing number of nippers and juniors, we were unable to offer them the equipment needed to patrol the beach, compete and train. We are very grateful to Principality as the new rash vests will not only protect the juniors from the sun in the summer but also provide them with extra warmth and protection in the winter months.
Every month one sports team from around Wales and the borders is selected to win a new kit from Principality up to the value of £500.