I asked Dave Gray if he would let me interview him for Wight Surf History and eventually he sent me this. We actually planned to do a proper interview and he was going to dig out some old photos but sadly it never happened. A history of surfing on the I.O.W. by David Gray aged […]
Sid Pitman sadly passed away while on holiday in the Mediterranean last week. Sid will be greatly missed by the whole Isle of Wight Surfing Community. Are thoughts at this time are with Sid’s wife Jan. Sid started body boarding during the early sixties with a homemade plywood board, curved at the front and painted […]
In March 1920 Lord Louis Mountbatten was posted to the battlecruiser HMS Renown and accompanied Edward, Prince of Wales, on a royal tour of Australia in her. After Australia the Renown went on to Fiji, Samoa, Honolulu, and then to Colon via the Panama Canal. During September 1920 they stopped on Oahu, Hawaii, staying for a […]
Tad Ciastula started shaping boards with fellow British Hovercraft Corporation (B.H.C.) apprentice Dougie Clarke, spending their spare time out in the old tin shed at the training centre near Osborne House designing and shaping a knee board like the one George Greenough rides in Crystal Voyager with a scooped deck. Surfing became a big part of […]
We received some very sad news last week that Lee Sheaff passed away last Sunday due to complications with his cancer. Below are words from friends and fellow surfers and some great pics of Sheaffy in action. Paul Blackley I didn’t know Lee well but would bump into him at the beach all the time. […]
Elite Clique Surf Club – I can’t quite remember how it went but evidently we weren’t allowed to compete for a reason that still escapes me, so John Ainsworth, perhaps Len and I started our own club in about three days and had it ratified by the British Surfing Association – if that was the name of the umbrella organisation. We competed and I think we might have won. It was a bit of politics and I honestly can’t remember who was behind it and what the motivations were. But I think the IW surf club had made it difficult for us to enter and be a part of the contest. That would have been about 1969. I was on my way to Australia.
What we did was silly (the name was intended to be) and to make a point.
I can report that the inverter works the coffee grinder. Tomorrow I’ll charge the MAC on it and after that, the world’s our oyster.
When I built the canopy for the ute, I bonded-on 2 20-ply bookshelves. Today I loaded an unfeasibly extensive line of books and had heaps of room for more! Rog Mansfield met me first when I was camping at M, Etchegoan’s valley and he was the reciprocal guest of Francois-Xavier Moran, the junior French champ, I think. He’d been a friend when we lived at the Villa Baccharis on the Chemin des Falaises. (Cliff Road.). Etchegoan was a lovely old dipsomaniac with a tiny herd of Friesians that used to wake me with their lovely cold, wet, black noses when they peered through the tent doors. I was under instructions from my friend Douglas Jardine (then in his late 60’s – he died in his 90’s) to leave the old dear a bottle of Martinique Rhum. Which was done. I can’t remember what the little pair of left and right reefs was called… ooops (‘Seniors’ Moment) it was Cenitz. I had a tent full of books then. Among them Arthur Koestler’s “The Act of Creation”. I must have been afraid that tent book-critics wouldn’t take me seriously as I also had Bertrand Russell’s “History of Western Philosophy”. My reflections were sophisticated: “What the f### are they on about?” Roger later credited that as a guiding moment in his ambition (to beat me?) into print!
Busy day, setting up solar panels, getting inverter to work, 3 board repairs, loading box on roof with long-term food-stuffs.
I’m hoping to get off some time after Monday. If, by any chance, the ‘blog’ – if that is what it is – gets a bit raw, it will not be to provoke but merely where I may happen to be (“at”, as American hippies used to say.) I hope I may have your collective indulgence. One needs to trust those whom one imagines one’s readers to be. And yet not alienate. It’s hard to guess where that line might be with people one has not met. And looking at about 4 months alone on the road or in the desert (though not by accident but of free will) it is not always possible to anticipate how it may go. This is by way of a wavering and uncertain pre-emptive apology if things go a bit pear-shaped.
On a lighter note, I leave the light on where the basin is during the nights so I can find my way there from the ute where I sleep without, perhaps, stepping on a snake. Yes, it can happen! I came out of my office to find a large Brown snake 3 paces away and quite alarmed. (The snake, actually). It could get no traction on the concrete so spun its wheels for a bit before it was able to gather some composure. It slid off and out of the building by descending one of the small tunnels made by the corrugated steel overlapping the concrete slab. Finding itself in bright sunlight, which perhaps offends a snake’s delicate sense of privacy, it immediately returned to the shed and finding me not much of a threat, relaxed for a while before having another go at outside. But that’s by the bye. The light has been attracting some lovely insects. Today a 6″ long stick insect. It can’t feel very comfortable against the white paint. On any of the ten million trees that cover this Island it would be invisible. The two previous days a couple of bright green mantises wandered in, intent to make the most of the sterile surroundings. If you watch them closely they swivel their triangular heads this way and that and it is impossible not to conclude they are having a very good look at you. They also oscillate from side to side at about 3 movements per second. Whatever it is they grab and eat (head first if it is a mate) perhaps struggles to decode this endless movement. A good friend called Neil Harding, kept preying mantises wrote two books, one of which was called “Bizarre and Macro Mantids”. He was obliged to learn German as the main field work had been done by German entomologists. (Always a struggle to know if one means to say “etymologist”).
And that leads rather smoothly to a joke. Since I can only ever remember one joke at a time I rather hate to tell them as it is more or less inevitable that my audience will have heard it. That’s always assuming I don’t fluff the punch line, which happens often. Far safer to write them:
At a convention of philologists in Costa Rica (obviously this was suggested by the reference to etymology… IF I have that one right… my 2 volumes of the SOED are somehow packed in the ute) a Latin American philologist addresses an Irish visitor to the convention.
“Tell me, por favor, senor (sorry can’t do the enya!) do the Irish have a word equivalent to our “manana”?”
Looking up from his pina colada, the Irish man replied,
“To be sure, oi don’t think we have a word with quite that pressing sense of urgency!”
Going back, finally to snakes, I have never suffered a desire to kill them or throw things at them. DH Lawrence wrote a shamed poem about a snake who visited him in his garden in (?) Corsica. He heaved a stick at it and the poem was born of remorse. I have a picture of myself taken by a Cornish friend at Cactus 40 years ago. I am playing chess and have my head in my hand looking at the board which is supported by a Post Office cable spool serving as a table. As I straightened up I looked down to my right and there was a Red Bellied Black snake curled up asleep touching my right thigh. I was delighted and said to my friend, “Hey, Tris, look at this”. Unfortunately this disturbed the snake which quietly slid up the small bush-covered dune at my back. Two friends and I had a more serious brush with a large Western Australian Brown snake locally called a Djugait. These are really poisonous and, with the quantity of venom they pack, out-kill (measured in units of hypothetical dead sheep) the King Cobra. We had been diving for fish and were walking back loaded with wetsuits, lead weights and spear guns. We were chatting about the fish we had missed and in so doing, in a clearing with lawn-short grass on it, found ourselves on top of this 2M Djugait, whose head was raised about 300mm to strike. My friend on the left managed to get out one word,
We were in a diagonal line, he was behind me on my left and my other friend was less in harm’s way to my right. I did stop, with my bare right foot in the air above the snake. For the longest time (at least 3 seconds!) it was a stalemate. I had plenty of time to admire the beauty of it. A lovely fox red-brown with a belly of lemon yellow, clearly apparent from its raised portion. It moved off slowly in quite an odd manner, with its raised head remaining so and slightly turned back toward us. There wasn’t a moment when any of us felt any fear, which perhaps tells us something about the nature of fear. It is only useful in preparation for an event. In the instant, it has no use. Last week a friend, (Doctor) Ross Shiel was surfing when he looked up to find himself being charged by a large Tiger Shark. He told me about it 2 days ago. Astonishingly he reacted perfectly in the instant. He paddled hard AT it. It stopped 1M from him and he was able to gauge the width of its body at twice the width of his board, that is, it was a full metre wide in the body. I guess there was a moment of stand-off and the thing took off, thrashing water into Ross’s face, almost one imagines with childish pique. Tigers are scavengers and I have seen a documentary showing young Tigers trying to get the hang of catching and eating seabirds afloat on the water. It was far from impressive, but one finally got a bird down its neck. Well, I’d better not follow this line of discussion as Stradbroke has too many tales. In fact you can see some of them around you. Bruce, who drives the small car ferry to Moreton Island (to the N) has one leg. He was surfing at Main and a Tiger shark took his other leg. He tells of the relief when his leg came off as he was on the bottom and close to drowning.
I suppose I have always considered myself a surfer.
I was brought up in Joberg, South Africa, but holidays on the coast at Morgans Bay and Port St Johns near Durban always involved belly boarding on the wooden boards.
It was in Port St Johns in 1970 that I spotted “proper” surfing for the first time, I thought then that’s what I wanted to try. The beach boys came into the café and sat at the table combing their hair, which my mum considered very uncouth, they made a tremendous impression on me as a ten year old.
When we came to live on the IOW it was only a couple of years before I realized that you could surf on the Island, Mr Munt from the teashop steered me towards the Surf club and in 1975 I joined up. Dave Jacobs sent me a nice handwritten letter of welcome and a sticker to “stick where I wanted to”.
I didn’t have a board or a wetsuit, so spent up untill December surfing in a leotard on the rather interesting selection of mals from the surf hut, my favourite was an old blue Bilbo with a split nose. I got a real pasting and went home every week on my moped covered in bruises.
Finally I had a wetsuit made up at the Diving centre in Appley, Ryde, A Beavertail thing with knobs on that were definitely not designed for paddling prone.
I also bought a 6ft pink board that was far too small and traded it in for Diggers green gun that was far too fast. I think every learner has to go through this wrong board thing.
Finally Keith and Jake took pity on me, showed me how to push up, paddled me out back and lent me a suitable board. A 7′ 5″ shortboard that was nice and wide.
The first surf trip I went on to The Gower in Wales in April 1976 was so cold that the wetsuits froze on the hedge outside, as did the loaf of bread for breakfast but the cider was so strong you couldn’t feel a thing.
The next trip to Newquay in September was memorable for a classic swell at Crantock, meals in the Golden Egg, Americans playing pool in the Sailors, in check shirts and caps, how cool, and the first rains for 2 months, and how it rained.
Those were golden times and the club had a real good feel to it, we had BBQs on the beach and played volleyball, met in the 3 Bishops on Fridays and played darts and rode the first skateboards of the era up in the Castle car park and down Staplers.
I’d told everyone I was 18 so I could go to the pub with them, I lied but dipped out, as I couldn’t have a birthday for 3 years!
I think Dave Gray (Digger) summed it up one day when we were all sitting post surf on the beach and a crowd of grockels sat alongside us, rather white and pasty, he looked at them and quoted from a popular advert at the time, “we’re the Prize guys and they’re the thin yoghurts.” We all knew just what he meant.
Surfing continues to be a big part of my life, and I get in at Compton whenever I come back to the Island and miss the camaraderie of the car park. I now live in Newquay and work at Fistral beach, so waves are plentiful, both my daughters surf (much better than I ever will) and my Dad still surfs on his 1950’s Ride the Crest wooden belly board.
Rob has now made it down to Cactus but before he left I asked him how he was getting on with his preperations for the trip and about the early days of surfing cactus during the 1970’s and if he ever met Paul Witzig (Surf movie maker during the 70’s) who bought up alot of […]
I met Sid when my dad and I were lodging at Dimbola above Freshwater Bay during the winter of 1973 when I started lower 6th at Carisbrooke and my dad was head of the catering dept at the Isle Of Wight Technical College. Dad and I used to walk down to swim at the bay, and one day there was a decent swell and one guy out there all by himself. Got chatting to him, and he told me all about the surf spots on the island and the surf club…
We moved to Newport after a while (during that winter I think) and from there I used to catch rides with Rog Cooper, Brian “the screw” Hill, Tony Macpherson. I used to walk down to Tony’s house on Pan Estate before light with my “fare” – a pack of biccies to share, then we’d go in one of their cars by rotation. I was by far the youngest (and only “young”) surfer on the island at that time.
During my upper 6th year Steve Chase arrived from Portsmouth, and was working at the garage at the bottom of the hill below Carisbrooke High School, so I’d get lifts with him also (often not getting back to school if the waves were good, hence only getting 2 A levels instead of 3…). I also got the use of my parents’ 1960 Morris 1000 traveller when I learnt to drive, so could get out more by myself when I had money for petrol.
Dave “turf” Salero was very active then too – I think he’d won the IOW championship the year I arrived (at about 40 years old after only surfing a couple of years).
The Club house was not even close to the edge of the cliff at Compton, movie nights by Pete Brown and Annie (now married to Tony Mac I believe)… lots of great times.
“Postman” Tad with his stories of Peniche in Portugal, the other guy I forget the name of who’d moved away, but came back for a while and lived in a converted hearse or London taxi cab… the connection with Genevieve Berrouet in Guethary where I ended up spending 7 months in 1976 and again in 77…
And I remember those special days when we’d come over the hill and see lines stretching out to the horizon, and we’d flash by Compton to FB… and those VERY special days when it was working. One day Steve’s dog got so excited at our hollering he peed himself all over me on the front seat!
There’s an old movie of Annie’s that has some FB in it, don’t know if it’s still around anywhere.
Haha… this was going to be just a word to say I’d be happy to give you some info – now you have some!!
Have been talking to Sid Pitman about a trip Pete and Dave Salero did to Woolacombe meeting up with Roger Cooper. Sid remembers Pete cooking an omelette for everyone which was a complete mess while in the camper next door Roger Cooper had managed to cook a full roast dinner followed by trifle which he fiunished off all by himself.
I always remember seeing Johnny down the fields at Compton surfing from dawn until dusk, and then in 1994 I think a few people began to notice his amazing talent as he became best cadet in the South Coast Surfing Championships at Niton. Johnny grew up surfing on the Island and last year became the first Isle of Wight surfer to become British Champion. I decided to put the questions out to the local schools and sports clubs to see if the youngsters would be interested in asking British Champion and Isle of Wight born Johnny Fryer any questions.
Davina age 7: What is your favourite surfboard?
Johnny: I have quite alot, and its hard to choose a favourite. I have one that I won the English championships and the British championships with, so thats probably my most precious. But its fun to have lots of different ones for different waves.
Abigail age 8: What is your biggest surfboard?
Johnny: My boards aren’t very big (not like the old school longboards). My biggest one is about 6’6ft long.
Will age 9: What was your very first surfboard?
Johnny: ha ha! it was a pink “pop out” board. with black paint splashes on. made by ‘circle one’ if anyone still has it i would love to get it back. It was so heavy and dangerous for me…I was only 6 years old.
Millie age 9: What is the biggest wave you have ever surfed?
Johnny: I’m not exactly sure, probably about 20ft. But surfers messure waves differently by about about half…so we would call it 10ft.
Alyssa age 7: How far away from land is the furthest break you have ever surfed?
Johnny: Some places in Indonesia you go out on a boat to the reef which can be about 1 mile out.
Saskia age 8: Do you have favourite food or any special diet when you are competing?
Johnny: Do you have favourite food or any special diet when you are competing? No special diet, but i just try to eat good, clean food, and lots of it so I’ve got a lot of energy. I love ice cream and chocolate as well though!
Becky (Gymnastics coach): Who initially taught you to surf?
Johnny: I never had lessons, I just always remember enjoying surfing even when I was about 3 years old. I wish I had lessons, it would’ve saved me making a lot of time mistakes in the early years.
Holly age 7: How fast can you go on your surfboard?
Johnny: I dont know. It depends how fast the waves can push you. alot of the time when you surf you try to slow yourself down to stay in the right place on the waves, so its not really about going as fast as possible. But maybe about 30 miles per hour in really big waves.
Emily age 5: What is your favourite manoeuvre?
Johnny: I love getting barrelled, where the waves breaks over you and you stand inside the tube. Its the best feeling in the world.
Bailey age 8: What is you favourite break on the Island and Worldwide and what is your favourite country and why?
Johnny: What is you favourite break on the Island and Worldwide and what is your favourite country and why? My favourite break on the Island is the far end of Compton towards Freshwater. This is where I spent most of my time learning. In the world my favourite waves are in scotland and the Islands north of Scotland, but it’s a bit cold sometimes!
Callum age 11: Who or what inspires you?
Johnny: Family and friends, and people who pursue their goals and get the most out of life.
Ed age 15: Where was the first place you ever surfed and how old were you?
Johnny: I think it was at Compton Bay. I used to surf on polystyrene surfboards when I was about 3 years old, but my first real board was when I was 6
Craig Sharp is an Isle of Wight born surfer and now businessman of Pocean Vacations, Surfing and Self Catering Holidays and in less than 3 years employs about 30 people. Pocean life offers a wide range of surfing hoidays alongside activity holidays in Portugal. Pocean Life is located in the cultural town of Ericeira, which boasts some of the best waves in Europe.
Craig’s business was recently featured in an article in the Telegraph ‘Business in Lisbon: opportunities for British companies in Portugal’.
During the early Nineties the surfer on the Island leading the way was Stu Jones who was starting doing airs and seeming to get amazing speed out of any wave he rode. But not far behind him was a young Craig Sharp was starting to turn heads.
November 19-20th 1994 was the South Coast Championships and it was being held on the Isle of Wight. Stuart Jones was the last Islander to win it in 1991 and it was all set to be a great event. The event was held at Niton in good size waves helped by a force 5-6 south west wind. The final was between Stuart Jones, Craig Sharp, Ross Williams and Paul Blackley. Paul and Ross didn’t get a look in as Craig and Stuart battled to become champion. It was very close but the young Craig came out on top to become the 1994 South Coast Champion.
I managed to get hold of Craig a few weeks a go and this is what he had to say;
I have just sat down to think about the IOW surf scene and what it all meant to me growing up on the island. So here we go:
I remember skateboarding at Shanklin pier around 1990… At this time just a few of the boys surfed liked Edd Thompson , Dave Grey and Paul Wilson. They were the Shankers boys and I watched them from the pier end where we all used to skate.. To be honest at that time I preferred the skate scene as I just thought the surf looked kind of slow.. However after a little persuasion from Edd Thompson I managed to have a session down at Wight Waters on the foamies.. Well of course one wave was all it took for me to be totally hooked. I then asked my mum to buy me a board sooo she did and it was from Raf .. A 6.8 critical section., thanks Rick !! So I surfed everyday until dark and on all conditions.. I would call Edd every day about the surf and we became the shakers groms hahaha..
I really grew into the surf when I started to go to Niton.. I think the wave made me a better surfer as it allowed me to do turns which I always watched in movies from the likes of Kelly Slater, Luke Egan and Shane Dorian… They were the guys for me.. But I must say Stu Jones had an influence over me to perform, he was a radical surfer and I looked up to him for that, so I really wanted to beat him in a competition which came about in the south coast championships.. I was so pleased to win the event on the island it was a special surf scene for all of us at the time.. What a great day !!
After that I journeyed onto some amazing surf trips with Blackley, having surfed some of the best waves in NZ and growing up mentally as a surfer, I was now ready for the surfers path. Since The IOW I have competed in competitions around the Globe which have provided me with a lot of fun and at times financial rewards but the main thing for me today is that surfing is a lifestyle and without the Isle of Wight none of this would be possible. Thank you to all the surf breaks on the Island and all my friends who were of my life. Now I am in Portugal still surfing and making my life from the surf so come on boys lets do an IOW surf session in Coxos..
Well, there have been so many. Some have had a mention earlier, others worthy of inclusion in this tome would be, in no particular order:-
Derek Rust, always known as BH Rusty, to differentiate him from Rusty Long, so called because of his propensity to exclaim ’Bloody Hell’ to everything. Derek worked in London during the week, always having to wear a suit & tie, and so when at home on the Island at the weekend, went about looking like a scarecrow. He owned a 1950’s Austin Metropolitan coupe, in which he would roar into Compton car park, jam on the handbrake & leap out before the thing had come to a standstill. Inevitably, one day he miscalculated & hit something, unfortunately I can’t remember what. Derek was always enthusiastic & would talk you into going in on rubbish because he’d convinced you ( & himself!) that the waves would get better as the tide came up / went out / wind dropped / picked up etc. After a sojourn in California he’s returned to the Island and can still be seen eying up the waves at Compton now & again.
Robert Haines, better known to one & all as Rex started surfing in the 70’s with his buddies Mike Thomson & Dave Downer & ran an old Ford Anglia until it was well past it’s sell by date. Rex was always there when the surf was up and was always up for a trip away, at least until he & the other Island surfers with him got thrown off the Trevella campsite for being drunk & disorderly!
Ron Munt, not a surfer, I know, but as dispenser of teas, coffees & High-energy fruit pies, most of us oldsters will remember him with some affection. Not, however, the lady who asked him for some water one day with which to take some medicine; he said that the water was free, but he’d have to charge her 2p for the cup!
Geoff ‘Ned’ Gardener, now sadly gone for many years. Ned was introduced to me all those years ago on my first visit to Clare Cottage as the club’s Big Wave Rider. And it was true, I saw Ned take the biggest wave at Compton from right out back on a gnarly, wind blown, winter swell on a long board with no leash or wetsuit & he rode it, white water & all, right up the beach. Rory Angus was coming down the hill from Freshwater towards Compton Chine & saw Ned take off & Ned was just walking up the beach as Rory got out of his car at Compton; that’s how far out he was. I also remember one club evening at Clare Cottage when Ned came in & announced that his new board had arrived from Bilbo’s. At that, we all trooped off to his house to have a look. I don’t think his Mum was too pleased to have 30 or so surfers crowding into their lounge to admire Ned’s board which had pride off place, nestled down among the cushions on the sofa. Ned liked a beer now & again and at one of the Porthtowan Championships that we attended, he staggered back from the bogs in the Porthtowan Inn mumbling about a dog that was as big as he was. We eventually discovered an ordinary sized dog & drew the conclusion that Ned had been on his hands & knees at the time! Ned also had the endearing habit of calling everyone ‘Gilbert’.
Bob Ward’s family ran the Bugle Hotel in Newport & I have fond memories of having days out with him & Rusty Long, chasing waves. I don’t think Bob had a car at that time & Rusty would occasionally pick him up as well as me on the way out to Compton. Bob could be a bit brash at times, but he was a better surfer than Russ & I put together, and then some, and he would always ask us up to his room in the hotel when we got back & order up a huge tray of tea, toast & marmalade in a catering sized tin for us all. I remember one big swell at Freshwater when Bob decided that it would be easier to paddle out from the beach on the west end of the bay, rather than out from in front of the Albion. It took him ages & I didn’t think he would make it as he was getting hit by every wave. He was determined, though, and after about half an hour’s paddling, he made it outside.
Clive Richardson is another guy that deserves a mention here, not necessarily because of great adventures shared, but for the many, many laughs we had together. Remember the Pork Scratchings, Clive?
Then there was Dave Paddon, again, gone now for many years. Dave was a hardened smoker & could often be seen knee paddling out on smaller days with a cigarette between his lips. He even took to wearing a wide brimmed hat, which he said kept his fag dry if he had to punch through a lip!
There were, and are, of course, many, many others, too many to mention individually, but I thank them all from the bottom of my heart for making my life so much richer than it may have otherwise been.
Up to Date
In the early 90s I injured my back & had to lay off surfing for a couple of years until it got better. When I restarted, I spent about 9 months trekking out to the coast in search of waves, but there seemed little to be had. One weekend, the weather charts looked good for Sunday, & it was an early tide so I dragged myself out of bed and pulled into Compton by 6 o’clock only to be faced with a swell of about 6 inches. “That’s it” I thought, “I’m not going to waste any more time or money on this” and so more or less gave up surfing on the spot. As it happens, my back problem recurred shortly after and has only receded in the last year or so.
When I look back to the 60s, it’s a wonder that anyone surfed on the Island. None of the essentials were available locally, you couldn’t even get baggies (are they a thing of the past now?) & surfing sweatshirts on the Island. Perhaps that’s why so many people made their own kit & why Rog Cooper, Tad Ciastula & Derek Tompson eventually became fairly major suppliers in the industry.
They say that there are Surfers, and people who surf. I’ve always considered myself to be a Surfer and still do. I still go to the Basque country for my holidays when I can, and I still manage to boogie & bodysurf in the nice warm waters down there. A holiday isn’t a holiday unless there are waves to be had. I still have my 9 foot BoardWalk board and harbour some ambition to make a serious attempt to start surfing again when I have more time on my hands. I can’t think of a better way to keep fit into retirement; I’m sure that my years of surfing have helped me to keep reasonably fit until now.
I guess I’m old fashioned in that the modern trend for tricks, aerials, 360s etc is not how I want to surf. For me Surfing is about joining with nature, harnessing its power and going with the flow (typical ‘60s hippy outlook!), and not about obliterating the wave and trying to become absolute master of it. Humans will never become masters of the sea, it may allow them to utilise it for their own ends for a while, but they will never truly be its master.
Sue came up & introduced herself and I remember her asking my girlfriend if she wanted to become a full member or just a ‘beach bunny’. That was the start of the best period of the Surf Club for me. In a matter of weeks the membership had grown to 90+ due in no small part to the CP ad. Friday night was the highlight of the week, with Clare Cottage bursting at the seams for the club meetings. Very soon there were movies being shown, mostly taken on 8mm by Dave Bottrell, and skateboarding down Spring Hill. I well remember Sid remarking that Merry Hughes (a quite well endowed young lady) had done a 6 point landing having fallen off her board halfway down. Hands,knees & boobs for those with no imagination. Also, a decision was taken as to where the club would be surfing at the weekend. Bear in mind that the majority of members had no board & were reliant on the good will of the established members, mainly the Ventnor crew, to borrow boards, thus meaning that everyone had to turn up at the same place at the same time. My belated thanks to Rog & Sue, John Ainsworth, Rusty Long & Colin Burgess.
Being a woodwork teacher, Hutch had made his own board, out of plywood naturally, and an invitation to try it at Compton was made. ‘Don’t try to shoot the curl’ he said, ‘just ride the white water’ What the bloody hell did all that mean?? Suffice to say that after half an hour I was exhausted, having totally failed to catch anything let alone ‘shoot the curl’.
From the Virgin Islands they traveled onto America, working their way across to the west coast. They stopped in North Carolina to stay with Barney’s sister Rosie who was at university there. Word had got around about Barney and Chris’s travels through Europe and across to the Caribbean and onto the U.S.A. and the university president had questioned Barney’s sister Rosie where they would be staying. When he found out that they were staying at her small flat he made arrangements for them to stay at his mansion. The staff were never to remember Barney and Chris’s name properly and they soon became known as Bonnie and Clyde by the them.