This is your column for news about any sport you are interested in.
|The origins of surfing are not entirely clear, however it
is pretty certain that it started in the mid Pacific islands several hundred years ago.
Early explorers of the area, such as Captain Cook reported seeing Hawaiian chiefs riding
the breaking surf on huge pieces of wood shaped from local trees. Indeed it was only the
tribal chiefs and royalty who would stand up on a single piece of wood to ride the wave.
This really was the "sport of kings". The technique was to paddle the
"board" out through the breaking surf by kneeling on it and sweeping both hands
back like oars. Once through the white water the board was turned and paddled back as hard
as possible until the wave picks the board up and the individual would then jump (or in
the case of the portly Hawaiians, stagger!!) to their feet and ride the wave.
Surfing pretty much stayed in this geographical area and social class until the 20th
century when due to increased international trading and seafaring people on the western
seaboard of the USA, and according to some reports English colonialists in South Africa
and Australia started to copy what they had seen. Early boards were literally huge
hardwood planks roughly hewn from living trees. Their size, weight and thickness meant
that they were not carried to the sea but dragged, often by more than one person! They had
no fin like modern boards but directional stability was achieved by dragging one foot in
the water. Having been hit a number of times by modern lightweight boards I can only
imagine what it was like to be hit by one of these monsters with several thousand tons of
water behind it!
By the 1940's Californian and Hawaiian surfing was starting to progress to lighter
framework constructed balsa wood longboards whereas in Australia people were body surfing
on short pieces of bent plywood of the sort which you will still see in hundreds of gift
shops throughout Cornwall. The Second World War brought many Australians and Americans to
the UK and some rest and recreation time was spent in places like Cornwall, where they
found that the UK actually had some reasonable surfing waves.
This is when the concepts of lifeguards and the bent pieces of plywood took hold here. The
surfing scene moved quickly in the 50's and 60's with boards getting shorter and lighter,
and with the advent of blown foam cores and fibreglass skins, much more like the ones we
use now. The board of choice in California would have been around 10 to 12 feet long,
fibreglass with a foam core and a single wooden fin. The centre of the board would contain
a hardwood strengthening piece or "stringer" which is a strip of wood which runs
from the front to the back of the board. The 60's was also when the UK surf industry took
off with the most famous manufacturer being Bilbo, started by Bill Bailey and his friend
Bob (hence BILBO). Visitors to Newquay in Cornwall will still find a Bilbo shop there.
Early names also included Tiki, who started in South Wales before re-locating to Devon and
are still going strong today. The late 60's also saw the advent of the leash (the Aussies
call them leg ropes) as surfers started to tackle bigger and bigger waves and needed to
keep their boards with them in the case of a wipe out. Purist longboarders however still
sometimes surf without leashes, however in crowded surf spots it is irresponsible and
dangerous to leave a runaway board heading for someone's bonce at a rate of knots!
The 70's saw boards getting much shorter and the emergence of the Australians as both
influential board shapers and champion surfers. The twin fin board was invented and then
superceded by the modern three fin thrusters, where the main fin is flanked by two offset
fins which channel the water past the main one. The 80's, which is when I started surfing,
saw 10 years of the most radical change and the emergence of surfing as a real force in
the UK. The first thing was that you became defined by the type of board which you rode.
Most young kids and hotshot surfers started riding the absolutely shortest board they
could, with the thinnest rails, sharpest nose and lightest weight. Not only did these look
radical, but in the right waves would allow aggressive skateboard type manouevres whilst
on the wave
In the UK we also saw the emergence of localism, whereby people who lived near to a
particular surf spot would claim it as their own and show hostility to non locals. The end
of the 80's and early 90's however saw the first serious presence of British surfers on
the world championship tour (we had one ecentric character in the 60's) and a thriving UK
surf industry. It also saw the re-emergence of the longboard which combined the style of
the 60's boards, with modern manufacturing processes resulting in ideal light and easy to
use boards for small UK waves. Surfing is now an international scene which is practiced in
the countries you would expect, Hawaii, USA, Bali, Australia, South Africa, etc etc, and
many that you may not expect Israel, Italy, Alaska for instance! Closer to home in the
British Isles, England now boasts surfing communities in Cornwall, Devon, Dorset, Kent,
Yorkshire, Norfolk, Tyneside, Kent and Suffolk, whilst Wales, Scotland and Ireland all
have excellent waves and vibrant surfing communities. The great thing about surfing is the
ease of doing it, as all you need is a board, a wetsuit, a leash and a block of wax (for
rubbing in the deck of the board to give traction), and the sheer exhilaration of it.
Norfolk has its own share of surf spots, including Mundesley, Cromer, East Runton, and
www.sheringhamsurf.com is about our local breaks, these are, Red light hole, East beach,
Cox's hole. Red light hole is an A-frame Wave meaning the wave peaks up into the shape of
an A, allowing the surfer to choose which way to ride, left or right. This wave breaks
over a reef of flint, and only works on the ebb tide and is not for the inexperienced
East beach, is a mix of left and right breaking waves, which break over a sandy bottom and
works from the flood tide to the ebb tide making this a safer place for the novice surfer.
Cox's hole, is mainly a left breaking wave over a flint reef, can be very shallow and
dangerous due to only working at low water. High water at Sheringham is on a flood tide,
meaning the current flows to Cromer, three hours after high tide the ebb tide starts and
flows to Weybourne, after low water and the tide comes back in, three hours before high
tide the flood tide will start again. For more information on surfing in your local area
please visit 'www.sheringhamsurf.com' and email me.
By Barry Buffalo & Jonno
|RE: Sheringham Football Club Photo, issue 7
I believe the man 2nd from the left in the back row was my Great Uncle Jess Howlett.
|The Caline Woodhouse in the photograph used to play for
Norwich City before the war. I believe Woodhouse Close was named after him.