In May 1992 there was a mother and daughter swept out to sea off Compton. It was at the end of a day surfing and about tea time and Isle of Wight surfer Andrew Plenty was just off home.
The mother and daughter were hanging onto a rubber ring but panicked and let go of it getting into real difficulty. Andrew spotted them in trouble and swam out twice to get them in.
Andrew was later contacted by the BBC and was to re-enact the drama for the BBC1 TV programme 999 in April 1993.
Andrew was spotted by Just Seventeen magazine with his long flowing hair and was perfect for their June 9th 1993 sensational surf special issue.
‘Bit embarrassing really, they wanted the corny surf posse angle so I stitched Aaron, Jamie and John to join me for the shoot. The irony was that I was asked because of my long hair but by this stage had joined the Royal Navy and had it shaved off. I was also offered a Timotei minerals advert but for the same reason could not do it hahaha!!’
The issue was also to feature Kelly Slater who had just become the youngest ever World Champion in 1992 at age 20 ans was a guest star on Baywatch. It also had an A to Z guide to surfing, an interview with Scott Michaelson (Neighbours Star), who had been picked up by a local talent scout while surfing his local beach. The issue also had a really good article about Surfers Against Sewage who were starting to be heard and some Water Companies had made promises to apply EC standards to their outflow pipes. Point Break had just been released in 1991 and was a box office success upon its release and it has since gathered a worldwide cult following.
Just Seventeen – 24 pages of surf ‘n’ stuff
Sun, sand, gorgeous boys with taut chests and tight trunks… the closest most of us may get to surf life is Baywatch. But imagine hanging out on the beach all day, partying all night and being at one with the ocean… Because Just Seventeen knows that surfing isn’t just about riding waves; it’s about good friends, the best times, being young and having fun. And as far as we’re concerned, that’s reason enough for a celebration.
Just Seventeen were looking for young ‘British surfers who could reflect the vibrant surf culture’ that was building in the UK. Andrew was asked if he could be available for a Just Seventeen photo shoot, and what 19 year old male wouldn’t want to do that. Just Seventeen, often referred to as J-17, was a weekly magazine aimed at teenage girls, it ran from October 1983 to April 2004 and was probably the most popular teen girls magazine at the time.
Article from Just Seventeen – June 9th 1993
Do the Wight thing
Andrew Plenty saves lives. Watching the real-life drama series 999 recently, we spotted him single handedly rescue a mother and daughter from drowning. We were struck by his bravery and, it’s got to be said, his dazzling blue eyes. At the same time, we were also searching across Britain for surfers who could reflect the vibrant surf culture that can be found on many happy beaches across the country. And by happy coincidence, Andrew turned out to be a surfer. So who were we to argue with fate? We headed down to his local beach at the Isle of Wight and found ourselves amidst the most happening surf community in Britain.
Sure the Island hardly has the sun or the glamour of Hawaii or Sydney. But look what you get instead – Andrew, Aaron, Jamie and John, all 19 – one of the many surf crews who ride waves with a passion that’s almost spiritual.
“For us it’s like a religion; it’s about being part of nature and getting back to basics,” smiles Jamie.
By the time we arrive, they’ve already been at the beach since dawn, after rolling down the beach in Jamie’s Transit van to catch the best waves of the day. Maybe it’s something in the water, but, like Andrew, there’s an easy grace about the rest of the crew. They’re relaxed, self confident and good-natured. they play body slamming games on the beach; affectionately rib each other, and Aaron even does hand stands on his board while out at sea.
“It’s funny, “reflects Andrew, “when you’re in the water, you’re entirely alone, it’s just you against the elements. But I always know I could rely on the others if I was in trouble, even if they were nowhere nearby.”
In fact, it wasn’t until we arrived on the Island that we realised how lucky we had been in our choice of location. Other British surf spots in Dorset or Cornwall are notorious for their pretentious surf-type fashion victims.
By contrast, Island crews hang out together, host friendly competitions and hold all-night, bonfire-lit parties down on the beach.
“Every surfer on the Island turns up when there’s a party. We’ll be down by the sea, eating, talking, having a laugh and listening to bands like Red Hot Chili Peppers until dawn. We’ve all know each other since we were little kids, so there’s a really nice atmosphere.”
All of which would be perfect if it wasn’t such a boys’ own scene. Considering, for instance, that Aaron is good-looking enough to put most models to shame, he’s oddly unattached.
“The girls on the island are really self-centered,” he moans. “It’s really rare to find Chicky Babes here.” Er, excuse me? “Oh yeah,” he smiles, “Chicky Babes are girls who are really into surfing, they’re not groupies or anything – they really know what it’s about.”
Despite his claim, it’s jamie, who actually sheds most light on the subject.
“Surfing’s definitely more important than girls when it comes to the crunch,” he grins. “I did have a girlfriend but she got annoyed ’cause I was in the water more often than with her.”
You can see her point. Although there’s a chill breeze in the air, the crew will stay down at the beach all day. When it’s warm, they’re liable to spend the night there, sleeping in Jamie’s van and getting up early to start all over again.
“When they’re no waves, you get really depressed, says Jamie. “Riding waves is a feeling you can’t ever have on dry land and something you never want to stop.”
Only half a mile from the mainland, the Isle of Wight has the most expensive ferry service in the country. Which means that most kids are virtually trapped there. Surfing is the best and most enjoyable way to get off the Island without having to pay for the privilege.
Watching the crew launch themselves into the sea, struggling and half the time failing in the lack-lustre water, to ride many waves, it’s obvious that what’s really important isn’t the fact of surfing itself; it’s the culture and the community which goes with it.
“Surfing,” says Aaron, running out of the sea dripping water, “is something which we all share together here. Unlike other places, it’s not a ‘look at me’ thing. On the Isle of Wight, its always us or we thing.”
Jamie confronted with a copy of Just Seventeen recently 🙂
And you thought it was all gone and forgotten Jamie 🙂
Joking aside Jamie is now Featured Instructor at azulfit.com and Founder of Fluid Art Pilates at Azul Yoga & Pilates Retreat (Azul Fit) on Fuerteventura who also run surfing holiday packages.
Above is Jamie teaching at the recent London Yoga show.