The 2016 Welsh Nationals in association with MiPost, Sanuk, FCS & Gorilla.

Payne reigns and Williams Regains!!

2016 Mens and Womens Champions, Max Payne and Emily Williams

Max Payne and Emily Williams took top honours at this year’s Welsh Nationals in association with MiPost, FCS, Sanuk and Gorilla. Payne emulated Rhys Barfield’s achievement last year by becoming Open and Junior Champion to outscore an inform Harry Cromwell, defending champ Rhys Barfield and fellow Junior finalist Cieran Hughes.
Emily Williams couldn’t put a foot wrong in the Women’s final as she found herself in tune with mother nature to take a convincing win over Gwen Spurlock and fellow finalists Breige Lawrence and Ffion Hughes to regain the title she lost last year.

The WSF’s flagship event had been on an endless roll of great waves and unseasonably good weather for many years. Had the contest run a week earlier then competition would have taken place amongst icy Arctic winds and snow showers. So competitors and officials alike could be slightly thankful that the three day event enjoyed weather slightly more seasonal although more typical of a Welsh Bank holiday weekend.

Whilst the weather made it extremely tough for officials the surfing conditions were equally difficult for our competitors throughout the weekend. It was not surprising to see the Mens Open event dominated by the more energetic and enthused younger generation of Welsh surfing. The final itself was made up of three Under 20’s in Max Payne, Rhys Barfield and Cieran Hughes and the slightly more senior Harry Cromwell. It was Max who was busiest early in the heat building upon his scores and applying early pressure with some well worked walls nailing a 7.5 in the process.

Max busy on his backhand early in the Open Final.                                             Pic. Jonathan Payne.

Barfield answered back with a couple of quick hits keeping Max on his toes but he couldn’t find a wave that truly opened up leaving the 2015 champion up against it. At just 16 years of age and making his first ever Open final young Cieran could be forgiven for being a little nervous, the jitters got to him slightly as his timing deserted him on two potential heat winners. Still Cieran could be proud of his efforts making history as the youngest ever surfer to make the Open final a fantastic achievement!

The waves were weak at best this year, Harry applies some force to something resembling a section.         Pic. Jonathan Payne.                                     

As the final progressed Max further improved his situation adding a 6.8 to his 7.5. Barfield continued to battle away but remained out of sync with the sets. With time ticking away Harry who’d barely caught a wave of note fought his way back into contention with a series of trademark front side snaps to score a 7.8. This left Hazza requiring a very achievable 6.51 to take the title. Yet once again it wasn’t to be for the local favourite who despite a final throw of a forehand reo to reverse came up just short once again. For Max the Open title was added to the Junior title that he’d secured only a few heats earlier. His slick and smooth surfing had cut through the chop all weekend, thoroughly deserving both of his wins. Max now joins Matt Stephen, and Rhys Barfield as the only surfers to win the Junior and Open titles at the Welsh Nationals.

Women’s finalists Ffion, Emily, Breige and Gwen.                                                                            Pic. Jonathan Payne.                                     

The Women’s final was a slightly more one sided affair as Emily Williams found herself in the kind of Rhythm every surfer dreams of. Wave after wave popped up her way that would have left Neptune struggling to compete. Still, she still had to let her surfing do the talking, which she did with aplomb taking three rights to the beach on her forehand and a left that allowed four quick off the tops to leave the judges in no doubt. In fairness to Gwen, Ffion and Breige there was little they could do in response. They all surfed superbly but found the conditions tough going, as did many of our competitors all weekend. It was Emily’s day and she deservedly regained the Women’s title.


Day one of the competition brought beautiful weather but the small swell on offer during the morning soon disappeared leaving officials with little choice but to postpone the day’s action. Still our Under 12, Under 14 and Under 16 surfers all got chance to surf out some heats before a lack of contestable waves ended the day’s action.

Under 12 finalists loaded with FCS , Sanuk and Gorilla Goodies. With thanks to Holysport UK                     Pic. Jonathan Payne.                                     

Day two brought a slight increase in swell but the strong onshore wind and continual down pours made surfing difficult and unpleasant to say the least. Still the show had to go on and despite the at times miserable conditions, a further eight hours of surfing was run. The Open Men’s and Women’s completed rounds one and two with our surfers struggling to get much more than average wave scores. The strong side shore wind blowing away any ramps to boost off or lips to hit. The more senior statesmen also took to the water for the first time during day two; the legends of Welsh Surfing keen to prove they aren’t yesterdays news. However the most notable story of the day was the surprise elimination of a wave starved Raife Gaskell on his local break. The Longboard supremo all out of luck, the evergreen Colin Bright capitalising on his poor fortune.

Rhys Poulton one place shy of the Open final but always a tough draw.                                                          Pic. Jonathan Payne.                                     

Day Two was like a summers day compared to Day Three! The wind was now touching gale force and the rain was being blown horizontally. As the previous day had also ended prematurely thanks to a bank of sea mist that rolled in out of nowhere, contest director Craig Burrows was left with no choice other than to roll with whatever mother nature served up. The Open quarter finalists were sent into battle when normally the beach and line up would have been deserted. Regardless, the show had to go on despite the less than appealing conditions. Unsurprisingly the exuberance of youth outshone Wales more senior statesmen to produce Semi Finals reflective of the times. The over something’s were given a second bite at the cherry in the Master and Grand Masters but offered little to convince spectators that the conditions were improving.

The exuberance of youth movement: Seth, Patrick LangdonDark, Joe and Jack.                                                                        Pic. Jonathan Payne.                                     

A number of the younger categories finals were run off in the rain of the previous day, Ejay Cogger and Patrick Langdon Dark gave Swansea plenty to smile about taking the under 14 and Under 16 titles respectively. Pats win, a fantastic achievement given the calibre of competition from Seth Morris, Jo Morris and Jack Mathias. Rudder Rava was crowned champion in the Under 12 title from the group of frothing Porthcawl and Swansea grommets. In the girls division Ffion Hughes was crowned U18 girls champion ahead of Niamh Mathias in another close heat. It was a great weekend for Ffion  making three finals which included the Women’s Open Final at just 14 years of age a fantastic achievement!

Back to Monday and the remaining finals had a slightly more senior feel as action shifted from Middle Bay back to the high tide rights on the beach. Thankfully the forecast was spot as the rain disappeared to be replaced by some very welcome sunshine. The waves also improved, the wind easing slightly and the high tide bank providing more scoring opportunities.

Arran Bright’s genes were honed on right hand points and it shows.                                                           Pic. Jonathan Payne.                                     

The two Longboard finals were exceptionally competitive as the men and women cross stepped through the flats and nose rode the sections. Arran Bright did enough to outscore classy logger Evan Rogers who’d made the long trip from down to Freshwater West from the North East to compete on home turf. Martin John finished third, ensuring bragging rights in the Bright household were firmly with Arran with dad Colin finishing fourth. Hazel Ilett retained her longboard title in an extremely close final to pip Georgina Lewtas and Breige Lawrence.

Mark Vaughan finding a rare section to hit in the sunshine during the Masters.                                               Pic. Jonathan Payne.                                     

Elsewhere James Jones retained his Masters Title and Mark Vaughan the Grand Masters with Greg Owen taking runners up spot in each. Colin Bright ensured he left the beach with yet another title, this time the over 50’s kahuna division. Keith Usher dusted down his contest vest to convincingly take the Bodyboard final.

Max getting critical in the Junior Final.                                                                                               Pic. Jonathan Payne.                                     

The Junior Boys provides a preview into the future of Welsh surfing and the class of 2016 had already made a big impact given the scenario that Open finalists Max Payne or Cieran Hughes could complete a very rare U18 and Open double. With Seth Morris and Logan Nicol making up the quartet, it proved a hotly contested final. The high tide rights offered a section or two, followed by a fat deep water middle part that if you could bob and weave your way through would allow a further inside runner to smack a few times. The three Natural footers in Seth, Logan and Cieran understandably looked to capitalise on their frontside, yet it was the lone goofy footer Max who was able to get upside down on his backhand to oust the regular foots and take the win.


Despite the now beautiful sunshine the strong wind saw the presentation take place tucked away from the elements. During the presentation Rhys Evans was named winner of the Paul Ryder Award as the best up and coming young Pembrokeshire surfer for 2016. Local surf club Pembrokeshire Surf Ryders decide upon the recipient of this great honour that celebrates the life of local legend Paul Ryder.

Rhys Evans receiving the PSR Award                                                                                              Pic. Andy W                                    

The Mens Open Finalists Pic: Pete Bounds

Nobody surfs high tide Fresh better than Harry, until the contest vest goes on and lady luck denies him a title yet again. Pic. Jon Payne                               

Max and Rhys have dominated the last two Welsh Nationals, expect to see more titles between them.                   Pic. Jon Payne         

Max slashing the Open final apart.                                                                                                                     Pic. Jon Payne         

Under 14 finalists  Eli Perin-Davies, Ejay Cogger and Luke Barfield                                                                           Pic. Jon Payne         

Loggers. Arran Bright, Colin Bright, Evan Rogers and Martin John.                                                       Pic. Jon Payne         

Ffion Hughes, brother Cieran and Rhys Barfield with another truck load of trophies.                                    Pic. Jon Payne         

For the first time in a long time not one of these old Codgers made the Open Final.            Pic. Jon Payne         

So that completes this year’s Welsh Nationals! A massive thank you to our sponsors:

Ken Vaughan of MiPost.

Olivier Weinhold and Liam O’Shea of HolySport UK on behalf of – Sanuk, FCS and Gorilla.

A huge thank you also to the local authorities for allowing us to use Freshwater West – Rhian Sula of The National Trust and Libby Taylor of Pembrokeshire Parks.

Thanks also to all our contributing Photographers: Jonathan Payne, Cara Gaskell and Pete Bounds.

Finally, our sincere appreciation to our officials:

Contest Directors – Craig Burrows and Huw John, Secretary – Stuart Bentley, Head Judge – Bob Freshwater, Our Judges – Norman Wright, Tim Aylett, Coryn Daniel, James MacGregor and Huw Bentley; Beach Marshall – Rhidian Brewer; Tabulators – Ann Webster Blythe and Michaela Kuhne; Lifeguards – Steve Horn and Huw Bentley; To Johnny Hillman and his team from Christian Surfers Wales for their over whelming support of the WSF and your help; Trophies – Tom Anderson; Food – Café Mor; Accommodation – The Golden Plover; Website and Online Updates – Andy Williams; Printing – McLays Printers.

Please note that all photos are not for third party use without prior permission. 

Copyright remains with the photographer as named and credited above.

    Welsh Nationals 2016 Results – MiPost, FCS, Sanuk & Gorilla

1 – Rudder Rava
2 – Thomas Khaw
3 – Eli Perrin-Davies
4 – Sol Williams
5 – Sunny Pritchard

1 – Ejay Cogger
2 – Ffion Hughes
3 – Luke Barfield
4 – Eli Perrin Davies

1 – Patrick Landon Dark
2 – Seth Morris
3 – Jo Morris
4 – Jack Mathias

U18 Boys
1 – Max Payne
2 – Seth Morris
3 – Logan Nicol
4 – Cieran Hughes

U18 Girls
1 – Ffion Hughes
2 – Niamh Mathias

Ladies Longboard
1 – Hazel Ilett
2 – Georgina Lewtas
3 – Breige Lawrence

1 – Keith Usher
2 – Alex Clark
3 – Georgina Lewtas

1 – Arran Bright
2 – Evan Rogers
3 – Martin John
4 – Colin Bright

1 – James Jones
2 – Greg Owen
3 – Mark Vaughan
4 – Rob Morgan

1 – Mark Vaughan
2 – Greg Owen
3 – Rob Silvey
4 – Jamie Andrews

1 – Colin Bright
2 – Rob Silvey
3 – Jamie Andrews

Woman’s Open
1 – Emily Williams
2 – Gwen Spurlock
3 – Ffion Hughes
4 – Breige Lawrence

Open Men
1 – Max Payne
2 – Harry Cromwell
3 – Rhys Barfield
4 – Cieran Hughes

Big Thanks to Jack Abbot for the video of the weekend.

The Welsh Surfing Federation

We are the National Governing Body for surfing in Wales, affiliated to the ISA, ESF and Sport Wales