6 February 2024
Welsh Senior Champions 2022 Crowned at Llantwit Major
2022 PuraVida MiPost Power2GO Welsh National Senior Surfing Championships hosted at Llantwit Major
Logan Nicol successfully defends his Men’s Open title and Joanne Dennison makes a successful return to competition to make it eight Women’s Open titles! Elliot Dudley adds yet another win to his haul of Longboard Men’s titles.
A sun-kissed Llantwit Major staged the PuraVida MiPost Senior Welsh National Surfing Championships for only the second time in the event’s history. With the Junior event having already run off in May, the Welsh Surfing Federation took the decision to utilise Llantwit Major over the traditional home of Freshwater West.
Competitors were granted fun, highly contestable conditions thanks to an unseasonably solid swell. Whilst not quite eclipsing the 2011 epic last held in The Vale, the alternative location once again provided an excellent weekend of high-quality competition.
Held on Saturday 11th and Sunday 12th June, the Welsh Surfing Federation's showpiece took advantage of a decent swell in the Bristol Channel. Competitors were blessed with breezy head-high waves to carve up in front of the judges and the beach-side crowd.
Saturday brought the more challenging conditions of the weekend, with surfers working hard to thread scoring manoeuvres together on solid, wind-battered faces.
The day belonged to Gary Lewis (Welsh Coast Surf Club) whose overall tally of 8.93 was enough to win the over 40s Grand Masters final, just ahead of runner-up Greg Owen (WCSC) who clocked 8.37. Lewis used his momentum to dominate in the over 50s Grand Kahunas final; a score of 11.33 enabled the Welsh Coast Surf Club evergreen to take the crown.
Gary Lewis: “A lot of paddling to do today, but the sun was shining and there were nice waves so I can’t complain. I haven’t been in the contest for 25 years, so I’m a bit rusty but it all worked out in the end – good fun, I think everyone enjoyed it. It’s great to be back and catch up with familiar faces.”
“It feels great to be champion, it’s always nice to get a trophy in the cabinet especially after such a long time out.”
The bodyboarders sorted out the last of the day’s business, with the final taking place in 2-3ft peaks folding over on Pago’s Peak, a super fickle high-tide slab at the eastern end of Llantwit beach, breaking in a foot or two of water.
Watching on just a few metres from the action, an enthusiastic crowd were treated to a gritty display of barrel-rolls onto the ledge and some very short but intense tubes. The closely fought final saw George Bevan nudge Richard Livock to the top of the scoreboard at the final hooter.
George Bevan: “It was great to contest the finals on a sponger’s wave. It was sick! It’s good to have a division here and represent. It was really fun and a good vibe in the water, lovely weather and a great day all round. Awesome day.”
On Sunday, clean shoulder-high surf was the order of the day to settle the four Welsh titles left up for grabs. With the waves building through mid-morning, the Masters final was quite a tussle. James Jones (Langland Board Riders) ran into a couple of decent rights to post an overall 12.16 and secure the Masters crown. Runner up, Mark Vaughan (Channel Coast Surf Club) missed out by a fin’s breadth, posting 12.00. Porthcawl’s Sam Moore with a combined total of 11.67 only a fraction behind an out of sync Greg Owen.
James Jones: “The pushing tide definitely improved conditions, so there were more open faces available. I tried to be more patient and wait for the better ones."
"There was a lot on offer out there and I think having priority helped me, and the wind wasn’t too bad.”
Commenting on his victory, James said:
“I just like beating Vaughanie to be honest, on home turf too. I don’t care if I come fourth, as long as he comes fifth, that’s literally all it’s about. I’m chuffed with the win. I only decided to enter the contest yesterday and I’m stoked with the win.”
The Women’s Open final saw a real mix of experience as Pembrokeshire’s next generation: Katie David, Indi Lynch and Poppy Owen took on the past champions of Emily Williams and Joanne Denison who between them share 15 Welsh titles!
The Pembrokeshire girls showed committed displays and solid surfing over the barnacle-covered boulders to prove that the future of Welsh women’s surfing is in good hands. The greater experience of the past champs battled it out for this year’s title, as the final came down to just 0.5 separating North Wales resident Joanne Dennison and Emily Williams of Channel Coast Surf Club.
The girls traded off on the longer running rights, with Emily’s vertical forehand going up against veteran Jo Dennison’s powerful backhand hooks. But it was the extra whip of Jo’s attack that sealed the deal with an overall score of 10.9.
Jo Dennison: “The conditions were quite tricky, just like yesterday, but it’s my first time surfing Llantwit Major so I’m just happy to be here and excited to try a new wave. My first ride was nice but I couldn’t really find another one, but there were some nice should-high runners if you could get on them. I couldn’t defend my title last year, so I’m just really happy with the result.”
The hotly anticipated Welsh Men’s Open final saw current Welsh champion and semi local, Logan Nicol (CCSC) up against the rapid-fire Patrick Langdon-Dark (LBR), first time and quite possibly the youngest ever Open finalist Eli Perrins-Davies (CCSC) and quite likely the oldest ever Open finalist Mark Vaughan (CCSC).
With Llantwit’s infamous rip now in full force, fitness, timing and local knowledge proved to be key! In the battle of the ages, Eli took a notable third place finish ahead of veteran Vaughanie, who having made the finals of three categories, had double the heat count of his fellow finalists and ran out of steam.
This left Wales top two pros to fight it out. Logan’s understanding of Llantwit’s intricacies gave him a slight advantage and saw him get off to a blistering start.
Pat answered back quickly but with Logan locking in two solid scores in the opening minutes, Pat was left chasing his lead. With time ticking away Pat was clearly holding out for a tasty wall to attack that just didn’t materialise. A little slice of history was repeated as Logan’s smart and precise surfing was enough to defeat PLD, who had to settle for second spot.
Logan Nicol: “Conditions were really tricky out there. For me, surfing here a lot with a bit of local knowledge definitely helped, but there was a strong rip current and I just about managed to pick off the right waves and get the job done.”
“Thanks so much to everyone, I’m stoked, just so happy. Obviously, my best mate was in the final, so I’m super stoked to come away with the win. It was a hard competition”
The final piece of the weekend's action saw the contest switch from the peak - known as The Point - over to The Left-Hand Side, a right-hand point break, (yes this is the Llantwit, The Right that’s named The Left) for the Men’s Longboard final, which provided a sparkling curtain closer to the Welsh National Surfing Championships.
Finalists Blake Jones (WCSC), Evan Rogers (CCSC), Arran Bright (CCSC) and Elliot Dudley (CCSC) took turns to impress on reeling shoulder-high rights, with plenty of nose-riding and knee-drop turns keeping the judges on their toes. Consistency was key for multiple European longboard champion, Elliot Dudley who took home the gold thanks to a seasoned performance.
Elliot Dudley: “There were definitely some good waves on offer, they were affected a little bit by currents running through and some wind on it, but there were some that really sat up nicely on the reef and doubled up producing some really good waves."
“It took me a while to get into the flow of it; had a couple of shockers, and then the last couple I had, I manged to get my scores up. That’s the good thing about having a 25-minute final, sometimes you run out of time and end up having to do 15- or 20-minute heats, but this contest has been so well organised; it’s great we’ve managed to have 25-minute finals.”
“I couldn’t do the Welsh last year due to injury, so I missed out, and the year before that there was Covid, so I think it’s been three years since my last contest. It feels great to get the title back, I’m stoked!”
In summary, the event was a huge success for the WSF and an excellent locational choice given the conditions available over the weekend. It will be hard to prize the Senior Nationals away from Llantwit in the future!
Huge thanks go to:
All our competitors and spectators at Llantwit Major for being part of another great Welsh National Surfing Championships.
A massive thank-you also to our sponsors @puravidaboardriders #MiPost and @power_2go for their terrific support.
A big shout of appreciation also to: Christian Surfers Wales; Sport Wales; and WSA (Welsh Sports Association).
Sarah Jones - Vale of Glamorgan Council
Matt Childs and Louis Evans - RNLI
Maria - Llantwit Major Beach café
Llantwit Major Surf Life SAVING Club
Curtis Hancock and all at Channel Coast Surf Club
Rhydian Brewer - Christian Surfers Wales for their unwavering support of Welsh Surfing.
Photographers - Huw Morgan Williams, Pete Bounds, John Dudley and James Bowen.
Web Cast Team – Tom Anderson, Craig Nicol, Dayana Del Puerto, Joshua Vaughan, Rob Blythe and Callum Thomas.
Website & Social Media – Sam Johnson, Steve White, Craig Nicol
Priority Team - Sam Moore, Rudi Perrins Davies, Tim Aylett, and Paul Beatle & Joe Lewis
Beach Marshall - Morgan Hendry
WSF Judges - Jamie Bateman, Craig Garvey, Gwen Spurlock, Emily Williams, Curtis Hancock, Rhydian Brewer, Phil Saddler, Mark Vaughan, Tim Aylett
Head Judge - Craig Burrows
Refresh Live Scoring - Tim Aylett
Contest Directors – Huw John and Mark Vaughan
Full Results - 2022
1. George Bevan; 2. Rich Livock; 3. Tai Jackson; 4. George Boucher
Grand Kahunas (over 50s)
1. Gary Lewis (WCSC); 2. Colin Bright (CCSC); 3. Neil Newman (LBR); 4. Craig Burrows (CCSC); 5. Simon Blower (PSC)
Grand Masters (Over 40s)
1. Gary Lewis (WCSC); 2. Greg Owen (WCSC); 3. Simon Page (LBR); 4. Mark Vaughan (CCSC)
Masters (over 35s)
1. James Jones (LBR); 2. Mark Vaughan (CCSC); 3. Sam Moore (WCSC); 4. Greg Owen (WCSC)
1. Elliot Dudley (CCSC); 2. Evan Rogers (CCSC); 3. Arran Bright (CCSC); 4. Blake Jones (WCSC)
1. Joanne Dennison
1. Joanne Dennison, 2. Emily Williams (CCSC); 3. Indi Lynch (PSLSC); 4. Katie David (PSC); 5. Poppy Owen (PSC)
1. Logan Nicol (CCSC); 2. Patrick Langdon-Dark (LBR); 3. Eli Perrins Davies (CCSC); 4. Mark Vaughan (CCSC)