World Belly Board ChampionshipsOver a hundred surfers of all ages on traditional wooden belly boards will gather at Chapel Porth beach near St Agnes on Sunday, for the World Belly Board Championships. It's an annual charity event for the National Trust and the RNLI.
Surfers from as far away as New York, Denmark and Australia will come to Cornwall on 6th September to celebrate how surfing began in Britain more than a century ago.
Two friends came up with the idea for the event in 2002, to remember a holidaymaker from London, the late Arthur Traveller, who used to bring his wooden board to Chapel Porth every year.
Keen surfers Chris Ryan, who's the National Trust Car Park Attendant at the beach, and Martyn Ward, an RNLI Lifeguard Supervisor, have seen their creation take off from its small beginnings.
The five times British Surf Champion Robyn Davies is Surf Project Officer for the National Trust: "The World Belly Board Championship celebrates all that is good about surfing! The National Trust and the RNLI feel it really important to highlight the pressures put on the coast and the beaches and what better way of doing this than by having a really great day out."
The organisers promise a fun day for all the family. Besides the serious competition for the World Title, there are more light-hearted prizes in Most Stylish, Best Trick and Spirit of Belly Boarding categories.
The boards themselves are judged for the Best Artwork, Best Patina and Best Vintage. Many participants come dressed in traditional bathing costumes, and there are prizes for those too; wetsuits are not allowed!
There are two age categories: Junior (under 60) and Senior (over 60). Entrants make a donation to take part.
Martyn Ward says: "It's amazing to see the event that Chris and I started six years ago grow into the World Championships we have today, helping to raise vital funds for the National Trust and the RNLI. Both charities contribute to the conservation of the coastline and the safety of bathers at Chapel Porth."
The first surfers in Britain are believed to have been soldiers returning from the Great War in the 1900s. Stories of surfing from South Africa, Australia and Hawaii led them to copy the Hawaiian wooden ‘Paipo’ boards, which had no fins.
Cornwall became the focus for surfing in the UK in the 1920s, using the wooden 'belly boards' on which the surfers lay down. It was only later that they started standing up, and Cornwall has the first visual evidence of that, in 1929.