The Surf Club has come a long way over the last three years, from humble beginnings as a group of students seeking “the supreme pleasure of being driven so fast and so smoothly by the sea” that Captain James Cook observed when watching surfers on a visit to Hawaii to an fully fledged AU club with regular trips to the closest surf spots.
After two years spent on the sidelines, surfing and mingling with other universities at the BUSA Universities Surfing Championship, March 2006 saw the first ever entry from a team under the York barnner. Nick Maxwell, Alwyn Spencer, Jon Stammers and Nick Ward-Foxton formed York’s first ever surf team and took the water undettered by their underdog status and the bemusement of some rival teams at the York entry. Despite some large swells, conditions were far from ideal, with strong currents making it difficult to stay within the designated competition area, crosswinds and cold water combining to make the 15 minute heats very intense for competitors, and the experience and talent of the more estalished teams soon began to tell. Nick Maxwell, Alwyn Spencer and Jon Stammers were all eliminated in the first round (despite edging out surfers from some big teams), leaving Nick Ward-Foxton as the lone team member as he progressed to the second round of heats on the following day with an excellent heat win.
With deteriorating conditions, it soon became apparant that surfers were going to have to be at their best in order to progress, being required to compete in up to six 15 minute heats in order to take the title. Nick Ward-Foxton gave a highly impressive display of duck-diving, paddling and wave selection, and was placed second in his second heat before finally being eliminated in the third round, narrowly edged into third place in a very close heat and finishing a creditable 17th overall in a field of just under 250 that contained three professional surfers and the reigning champion. The tournament was eventually won by Matt Le Maitre of Plymouth who bettered his rivals in a closely fought final, laying down a series of powerful snaps and slashing cutbacks to take the title with a radical display of new-school surfing, also helping Plymouth Team A to take the title for the third year running. In the ladies division, Ulster University’s Shauna Ward, the reigning Irish Women’s Champion, claimed the Ladies’ Open title in impressive style.
Overall, it was a highly successful debut for the University of York team and it will be returning next year to build on this success. However, ideally York’s 2007 entrants will include more entrants and a women’s team competing alongside the men, as this popular AU society continue to grow.