Think of West Cornwall's Smooth Movers event as the UK's answer to the Duct Tape Invitational and you've got the gist of what's going on here – but it's also much more than that.
Through the eyes of this editor at least; if the theme of a surf event is traditional comp-style on a log or fish only; then the feeling was one of reconnection. Lots of people spoke about how they are still in the social emergence stage of post-COVID break-free, and an event like Smooth Movers served to rip the bandage off – making people move again, in more ways that one.
Live cam: Godrevy
It only takes a local grass-roots surfing event for people to see those they haven't over the past few years. An excuse to get together, and a general ok-ness to have a camera shoved in their face, courtesy of yours truly and MSW snapper Tom Vaughan. And some of the UK's greatest log and fish shifters descended on the Red River Pub in Gwithian for a launch party on Friday, helped along by free Atlantic Pale Ale (thanks Sharp's Brewery!) and the general feeling that everyone was there for the craic. That this is what it's all about.
On the docket, two films from Seth Hughes, one featuring Mike Lay and a fresh flick called Amble with up-and-coming longboard star, Izzy Henshall: “I was actually nervous about showing my film,” said Izzy, right before it screened to a packed audience. “The actual competition will be fun, just kind of switch it on and go. But showing that here... yeah, I don't know why, some nerves.”
It was a success. What filmmaker Seth Hughes has created here is a love letter to West Cornwall. And Izzy is a supremely talented logger, very much in tune with the benefits of living out in those deepest throws. Hopefully this flick will be making its way to a festival near you, soon!
As Friday night wound down, a couple dozen hardened warriors made their way back to campsites or parked vans around the 1am mark, for a pinch of shut eye before the dawn chorus chirped to life at 6am. By 7am(ish) the first buzzer set off the opening heat.
Contest zone took place just to the east of Gillick Rock, at West Cornwall beauty spot Godrevy. If you came late, good luck parking. The tiny National Trust car park was at capacity, with the overflow parking spots filling neatly with spectators and the usual Saturday morning regular dog walk crowd.
Surf started in the 2-3ft range with a slightly crisp north wind chopping things up a bit. The swell hung around until just gone midday, before it started to fade out. Didn't make a difference though, all heats run without a hitch, and an expression session to boot. Godrevy's a great setting for it too -- sometimes jokingly referred to as Cornwall's best small-to-medium-sized log wave.
By the time it had all wrapped up, it was Lola Bleakely who took out the women's event, with Amelia Hewitson in second and Izzy Henshall, third. All three women have now qualified for next year's Mexi Log Fest.
For the men, reigning champ Mike Lay and James Parry finished up equal first, with Gwilym Pritchard second and newly-minted Euro champ Arthur Randell in third. The three gents also qualified for the Mexi Fest.
As for the winner of the fish contest (called the Battered Fish), Devon's Jobe Harriss made a stellar return to competition with a first place finish, followed by Harry Timson in second and Ryan Riley in third.
We're not done yet; Olly Parker and Syd Randell won the Smoothest Mover award and Gwilym flared for the Send it For Summer Expression Session.
“Unsure of where to start with this so let’s go with thank you everyone,” said organiser Josh Daniel. “Smooth Movers really is about bringing people together, uniting the clans of British traditional surfing if you will, and having a good time – and I think it was mission accomplished on that front. A special thanks need to go to too many to count but if you see Meglar and Paige then buy them a pint for putting up with me for the entire eight week build up if nothing else.
“The biggest thanks to my dear friend Tom Chapman of Algorhythm for everything, above and beyond doesn’t quite cut the work you put in nor the result of the afterparty.”
Josh also thanked Cornwall Council, the National Trust, Down the Line Surf Shop, Sharp's Brewery, Hayle RFC and the Red River Pub.
“I'm going to sleep for a week or so.”
Here's some vignettes from around the day.