Tuesday, February 14, 2012
The body which represents surfing in Great Britain is undergoing fundamental changes with the dual aims of: invigorating, inspiring and connecting with the British surfing population, and increasing participation across all age and ability levels throughout the country, and implementing performance development strategies with the view to producing a British World title contender within the next 10 years.
These are the aspirations of a new board of directors who have recently signed up to the re-branded Surfing Great Britain (SGB) organisation.
Leading the charge is new SGB chairman, former British and European Champion Nigel Semmens from Newquay.
Nigel says: “While we have a massive amount of surfing talent in this country, male and female, we haven’t had someone competing internationally for a number of years. To reach the same level as someone like Kelly Slater, we need to have a more structured approach which puts a premium on top quality coaching and commitment, and which seeks and obtains sponsorship that reflects the massive interest in surfing in Britain.”
Kelly Slater (USA) is the current ASP (Association of Surfing Professionals) World Tour champion. The last British representative to compete on the elite tour was Russell Winter from Cornwall, whose performances a decade ago met with serious acclaim from surfing professionals from the sport’s traditional hotbeds of Hawaii, Australia and California.
While the SGB’s new board of directors is determined to harness the array of talent among British surfers in order to find successors to follow in the footsteps of Russell Winter, they will also be actively looking to make surfing more socially inclusive - working at grassroots level with a view to increasing participation in the sport at a young age, supporting local clubs and schools throughout the UK and developing surfing within the PE curriculum where possible.
The board is comprised of individuals who have a history of surfing and industry experience, and, along with SGB’s newly constituted acting executive officers, the rebranded body amounts to the largest and most knowledgeable group of experts ever assembled for a British surfing organisation. Athletes, coaches, environmentalists, media specialists and surf industry representatives have joined forces to breathe new life into SGB, with the aim of securing formal National Governing Body (NGB) status as soon as possible.
Some of the country’s top surfers, including former British champions Gabe Davies and Sam Lamiroy from Newcastle, former Welsh champion Lloyd Cole and Scottish champion Chris Noble, are committee members and will be taking an active role in the progression of British surfing. Well-known surfing journalist and author of Surf Nation, Alex Wade, has also helped in the reshaping of the new body.
Alex Wade says: “There is tremendous energy and excitement behind SGB as it seeks to push British surfing forward to the next level. By the end of year in which the Olympics returns to Britain for the third time, we expect to be well on the way to achieving NGB status. As such, SGB will be looking after the interests not just of the elite surfers who are good enough to turn pro but everyone in Britain – from Thurso to Brighton, Tynemouth to Swansea and Portrush to Perranporth – who loves to ride waves. There is tangible good news already, too: we have landed a European contract from the NEA2 Project which will go towards the development of a national governing body.”
And, as Nigel Semmens says, there is a pressing task: “Our immediate goal is to try and get sponsorship for a team of youngsters to compete in Panama in April this year for the World Junior Championships. We are working with drinks company Calypso, who have been very supportive to us in the past, and we hope to get through the selection process and get our team together as soon as possible.”