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@ Sheringham Community Paper Issue No 10 - Friday 21st March 2003 - Choose another issue
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Sheringham Community Paper Sports News

This is your column for news about any sport you are interested in.

.SHERINGHAM SURF

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!
Surfing (cont'd)
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 Sheringham.

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 surfer.

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
READERS LETTER
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.
Brenda Downing.
READERS LETTER
The Caline Woodhouse in the photograph used to play for Norwich City before the war. I believe Woodhouse Close was named after him.
Iris
Published by Norfolk A2Z. 14, Waterbank House, Station Approach, Sheringham, Norfolk. NR26 8RA
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