Island surfers lucky in lockdown … but contests stay cancelled

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David Ferguson, president of the Channel Island Surfing Federation, says officials will meet at the end of June to decide whether to run a local contest in September, providing lockdown restrictions are further lifted.

In addition to Channel Islands contests being cancelled, the British National Championships and all ISA contests have been postponed due to national borders being closed, while the Olympics – due to feature surfing for the first time this year – has been moved to 2021.

Despite people making the most of the waves through lockdown, Ferguson explained it is not surfing itself that prevents a contest from running.

‘People have been surfing throughout the pandemic – that is not the problem,’ he said. ‘The issue arises from an organisational standpoint, mainly because you need judges who are all mediated by a head judge and therefore have to sit in close proximity in a booth together.’

Reigning men’s CI champion, Charlie Rio, is among those to have 2020 plans halted, but he remains grateful that he has still been able to get in the sea over the past few months.

‘Like most surfers on the Island, the sport has kept me sane during lockdown,’ he said. ‘We have had amazing weather and pumping waves and must be grateful to be one of the only places in Europe with permitted access to the beach.’

Rio qualified to represent the Channel Islands at this year’s British nationals in Scotland and had plans to try his hand at some World Qualifying Series events in Europe later in the year.

Despite the cancellation of such events, Rio is focused on maintaining his competitive edge.

‘On top of surfing, I continue to do strength and conditioning training with Jersey Sport to help me stay at the top of my game,’ he added. ‘I hope to use 2021 as a stepping stone to break onto the international circuit when competitions resume.’

With all contests locally, nationally and internationally on hold, Ferguson added that he hopes people can continue to enjoy surfing safely throughout these ‘unprecedented times’ before a ‘start fresh’ next year.

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