Posts Tagged ‘surfing’

Always Smiling – Lee Sheaff

On Sunday 29th September the Isle of Wight Surfing Community came together to paddle out at Whitecliff Bay as a tribute for Lee Sheaff who very sadly passed away earlier this year. About 60 people came from all over to paddle out at 5pm to form a circle in remembrance of a great friend. Many […]


Isle of Wight come 4th at the 2013 Offsure British Interclub Surf Championships

Congratulations to the boys representing the Isle of Wight at the 2013 Offsure British Interclub Surf Championships at Bude – finishing 4th overall in the open. Competitors were welcomed to Widemouth Bay on day one by clean 2-3ft high tide shories. A total of 70 surfers from Bude, Boscombe, Croyde, South East Cornwall, Isle of […]


A Look at the Caribbean by Rob Ward

The Circumnavigation of ORINOCO FLO Part 3 by Rob Ward Marigot Bay, St Martin – Ansedes Colombiers, St Barts (A couple of days in the Caribbean) We arrived at St Martin’s by way of a stonking 13 knot close reach under jib and reefed main to Barbuda from Antigua. And after a Cray filled Barbuda (where […]


Round the World Surf Charter by Rob Ward

The Circumnavigation of Orinoco Flo Part 2 by Rob Ward PART ONE FINISHED happily in Bayona on January 17th. The ‘Bay of Biscuit’ (Hils) had done its worst and the ship of fools had sailed into northern Spain on the back of a northeasterly gale with all nine relieved and happy – seven thinking that […]


Surfers to paddle out for Lee Sheaff at Whitecliff

The Surfing community are to pay tribute to Lee Sheaff this Sunday at 5pm at Whitecliff. The plan is to be all ready to paddle out at 5pm so would advise people to please arrive early. Parking is limited so please take this in mind so we can all get on the water to pay […]


The Circumnavigation of Orinoco Flo by Rob Ward

The Circumnavigation of Orinoco Flo Part 1 by Rob Ward I BUILT Orinoco Flo in the years 1992-4 with a small gang of young helpers. The circumnavigation took the form of an extended charter to help pay the bills. It was a long one – 35,500 miles. And it took us into the Southern Ocean […]


Crossing The Atlantic – Part 3 by Rob Ward

Crossing the Atlantic and Returning Home (The Midnight Hour – Part 3) From-Multihull International, August 1990 By Rob Ward Antigua – Flores (Azores) initially making for Bermuda Having returned to Antigua for the second time from the Grenadines and many strange and wonderful anchorages in between, Tris, Ray and I set about preparing The Midnight Hour […]


The Midnight Hour – Part 2 by Rob Ward

The Next 5, 000 Miles (The Midnight Hour – Part 2) From-Multihull International, July 1990 By Rob Ward This is written in Prickly Bay, Grenada. The Midnight Hour arrived in Barbados a week ago. We stopped in Bequia and Martinique and then took our charterers to their plane in Antique before picking up some friends, […]


Matt Harwood through to Round 3

Isle of Wight Surfer Matt Harwood part of the England team competing in the Azores for Eurosurf 2013 has made it through to Round 3. Matt a late call up for the England Team is competing against some of the best surfers Europe has to offer. You can watch Matt live at Eurosurf 2013 Live […]


Construction and 1st 5,000 Miles of The Midnight Hour – by Rob Ward

The Construction and First 5,000 Miles of The Midnight Hour From-Multihull International, March 1990 By Rob Ward With merely my third year’s subscription form for MI on the desk it may seem a bit presumptuous to put a new ribbon and double spacing on this battered Olympia and write a few words, the need to […]


Good luck to Matt Harwood at the European Surfing Championships

The Isle of Wight Surf Club Chairman and the Islands representative for Surfers Against Sewage Matt Harwood is part of the England Surfing Team heading out to the Azores to compete in the European Surfing Championships from the 13th – 22nd September. Matt won the 2011 Isle of Wight Frost Bite Series and earlier this year […]


Surfers Against Sewage Beach Clean

SAS BEACH CLEAN Sunday 15th September (10am-12noon) at Grange Chine then Freshwater Bay (2pm-4pm) Come and do your bit! Surfers Against Sewage believe protecting our beaches from marine litter needs year-round volunteer action. This September sees the launch of the Cold Water Beach Clean Series, a new SAS initiative calling for community volunteers to join […]


Wind farm surf impacts study: SAS calls south coast surfers to meeting

Surfers Against Sewage are inviting members of the Bournemouth surfing and Isle of Wight waveriding community to join them to discuss the potential coastal and surfing impacts of the Navitus Bay offshore wind farm. The meetings will take place with the developers of the proposed offshore wind farm at the Lakeside Park Hotel, in Wootton […]


Perfect Day for Girls Surfing Lessons

A perfect day for girls surfing lessons at Yaverland. Thanks to Chris Mannion – iSurf and to The West Wight Landscape Partnership for putting this on. www.iowsurf.com/ SURF LESSONS AND SUP LESSONS ON THE ISLE OF WIGHT iSurf is the island’s only fully mobile surf school meaning we’re free to track down the best weather […]


Lee Sheaff

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. […]


Matt Harwood gets 2nd at The English Nationals

Congratulations to Matt Harwood for getting 2nd place at The English Nationals. The Masters Results from the English National Surfing Championships with P20 Sun . Masters 5 Dale Lowe 4 Matt Thomas 3 Paul Barrington 2 Matt Harwood 1 Martin Connolly


Through a Liquid Mirror – Wayne Levin

‘Through a Liquid Mirror’ an Exhibition by Wayne Levin Internationally acclaimed Photographer, Wayne Levin from Hawaii has brought his exhibition all the way to Dimbola Museum and Galleries on the Isle of Wight. Wayne started out with a Brownie Camera and started developing his own film. Wayne has exhibited all over the world including New […]


Surfs Up for Freshwater Parish Council

Last night the Freshwater Parish Council invited Paul Blackley to be guest speaker at their Annual General meeting at Freshwater Memorial Hall. Paul showed the Councillors and members of the public a slideshow of images taken form the recent Exhibition at Dimbola Museum and Galleries and talked about how the Wight Surf History Project. With […]


Isle of Wight Surfing History in Pictures

Isle of Wight Surfing History goes back over many decades and in 2012 Wight Surf History put together an exhibition including images at Dimbola Museum and Galleries at Freshwater Bay, Isle of Wight. The Exhibition closed with an amazing Jubilee party with live music from Sam Scadgell, Black House Crows and The Shutes. Here are […]


1968 Isle of Wight French Surf Trip

An Isle of Wight Surf trip to France in 1968 remembered by Graham Sorensen who shared a campsite and waves in a field along with Bob Ward, Elizabeth, Angus, Hutch, Mo, Trevor, Dita and Pat.  Traveled in a green kombi van with a kiwi emblem drawn on the front. Taken in the month of mid-August 1968 […]


Wight Surf History Exhibition now at The Waterfront

Both Wight Surf History Exhibition Prints are now displayed at The Waterfront Bar and Restaurant, Totland Bay, Isle of Wight. If you somehow missed the exhibitions previously then get yourself down to Totland Bay. It may not have great waves but it has to be one of the best places on the Island to enjoy […]


UNDERGROUND EXPLORER: ROB WARD

The story of British surfing would not be complete without reference to its underground surfers – those who passed up competition, fashion and media exposure for hard-bitten travel. These are the “soul” surfers such as Rob Ward and the late Nigel Baker. Rob Ward was a lover of French waves. “The early days surfing France had to be the best time of my life. I was totally focused on riding big waves at Guethary,” says Rob. “In 1967 I lived in a tent in the Cenitz valley, then in later years stayed in a villa with early Newquay immortal Alan McBride.” Rob was a standout big wave surfer and a hard-core adventurer. “Growing up on the Isle of Wight, in the south of England halfway up the English Channel, I never saw anyone surf,” says Rob. “But one day in 1961 I found an article on glassing a surfboard torn from a magazine and lying on the floor of a garage at the back of my dad’s hotel. I tried to make a board upstairs in the hotel, but lacking the right tool or materials, it was not a happy experience, and I never finished the board.”

Educated at the Nautical College at Pangbourne in Berkshire, Rob went on to become an officer in the Royal Navy. “In 1964 I was a Midshipman in HMS Jaguar on the South Africa/South America station,” says Rob. “I’d been pestering a South African lieutenant aboard with the question of whether people surfed in South Africa. I had a day’s leave on the Friday of the week. I took a taxi to Cape Town from Simonstown naval base and arrived just after the shops had closed. I found a shop with a surfboard in the window and banged on the door until they opened. They gave me a board and took £30 pounds (a month’s wages) from me. The sporting taxi driver shoved my prize halfway into the boot of his car and drove me back ‘home’. It was the most beautiful thing I had seen—brownish, distinctly bent and with the name Sunsurf announced by an orange sticker with an impressionist rendering of the principal feature of our solar system near the nose.”

“I surfed in South Africa, South and Central America and returned to the UK,” says Rob. “During my third year at the Britannia Royal Naval College (in Dartmouth, Devon), I tendered my resignation with some trepidation. I had, after all, been in an institution since I was six. Within a few months, a friend and I had bought an old diesel van, some blanks from a defunct surf business in Newquay and, after building a dozen boards in the Isle of Wight, headed down to Guethary. Then followed nine months of bliss. We built a small factory on the outskirts of Bayonne with a French partner. I grew my hair for the first time in my life and surfed every day it was possible. At first I entered in the competitions that the French Surf Federation had newly inaugurated. I won an international paddle race taking Felipe Pomar’s record for the course by five minutes.” 1965 World Champion Felipe Pomar was a go-for-broke Peruvian big wave surfer, famous for his power paddling.

Later Rob turned his back on competition, travelling extensively in California, South Africa and Australia, often seeking the more obscure, high quality big wave locations as his hang out, such as Outer Kommetjie in Cape Town, Margaret River in Western Australia and Cactus in Southern Australia, many years before these places were reported as make-the-barrel-or-die big-wave breaks. Rob also had an innovative attitude towards surfboard design and had a long relationship, spanning decades, with experimental shaper Tom Hoye, Precision Equipe, in California, who would ship him his latest, sometimes quirky designs, to ride wherever he was in the world. “I recall in 1972 coming from the surf in the desert in South Australia. There had supposedly been a large shark sighted. But the waves were extraordinary,” says Rob. “I spent an hour alone with both fear and elation and when I came from the water I actually fell on my knees and thanked God for my existence. It was the sort of peak experience that will carry you through a lifetime of the normal, and less common, trials. Bliss indeed. Thank you surfing.” In one of those impossible to predict moments in an obscure place on the planet, who should Rob bump in to during a spell at Cactus but ‘Moby’ – Dave Patience, one of Newquay’s earliest surfers and Guethary pioneers.

In the ‘80s Rob lived in Cornwall and ran a surf shop in Newquay called Ocean Imports. “During that period,” says Rob, “a friend encouraged me to buy a 26 foot boat with him and smuggle hashish from Morocco. Of the six-year prison sentence, I served four years. I had no excuses. I didn’t feel sorry for myself. I was grateful for the opportunity to study Romantic Poetry at the Open University.” Upon release, Rob started building 40 foot catamarans. In the Orinoco Flo he made a global circumnavigation, financed by paying surfer passengers for the surf break stops along the way. These included pioneering visits to the Easter Islands.

Rob’s surfing passion has always been focused and intense. He possesses a driven quality recognised among that breed of surfers like Laird Hamilton who “have to be there to ride the big waves.” Well-educated and highly articulate, Rob has also been able to share his love of surfing. His performances have been inspirational, and he would have been better known, but for his low level of interest in surfing contests. Even in current surf sessions he sets a high international standard for his age. “I just completed a 27 kilometre paddle race beating paddlers 20 years my junior,” says Rob. “Now 60 and looking back at 40-plus years dedicated to surfing – seeing that I abandoned a naval career my father had set his heart on for me; considering the jail term that I served as an arguably direct result of the economically barren years in the back of a van in Mexico and California, a station wagon in Australia and under the stairs of a villa falling down a cliff on the Chemin des Falaises in Guethary – I suppose I should harbour some regrets. A surfer will know that I do not. Joseph Campbell, in one of a series of interviews made shortly before his death, declared – ‘Ah, fortunate is the one who finds his Bliss.’ It’s an odd phrase but that is what surfing has been (and remains) for me. And I feel fortunate indeed.”


Los Hombres se vienen, El hombre se va, en la carreterra

(In other words – in the desert – The sun comes up; The sun goes down.) Just a few more shots. I’ve got anything you have sent before today which is  Tuesday March 27th. I’m 66 in four days. Please send money. PO Box 82, Dunwich, 4183. It’ll be forwarded to the secret desert hideaway. […]


Cactus – Day 7 – by Rob Ward

In a reflective mood This is a toilet – 2 trunkated telegraph poles support the roof structure, they and all the interior fitting are secured to a concrete floor and the cement and sandstone boulders lead in a spiral to a well ventilated flushing loo. Ron says the (?8) loos with their running water, piped […]