After two fallow years, Boardmasters is finally back to blast away the last of the lockdown cobwebs with a mid-summer celebration of surfing, music and full send.
With sun, waves and not quite enough wind to rip the tents from the clifftops on the forecast, the stage looks set for a triumphant return. (Just don’t forget those lateral flows)
Here, you’ll find a handy guide to all the available revelry happening outside of the festival site at Watergate Bay and all you need to know about the surfing event..
The Surf Competition
Fistral Beach has played host to a big annual August surf comp almost every year for the last four decades, with the inaugural event in 1981 happening to coincide with the birth of Wavelength Mag. (You can see some photos from the launch party here.) Over that time and across various iterations including The Fosters Surfmasters and The Hot Tuna Classic, the event has welcomed an array of surfing royalty, including Mark Occhilupo, Tom Curren, Kelly Slater, John John Florence and many more.
Due to disruptions to international travel and a fractured qualifying series, this year’s Boardmasters will see a field of mostly British competitors battling it out across three categories: the Animal OPEN, BFGoodrich Longboard OPEN and the Mystic Junior OPEN, for prize money and standing on the UK Pro Surf Tour.
The action kicks off on Wednesday the 11th of August, with exact running times dependent on conditions. Word is the Juniors will run at the beginning of the waiting period and finish by Thursday. The Men’s will kick off on Wednesday and run throughout. The Women’s will start Thursday and run through the weekend and the Longboard will run Friday to Sunday. We’ll add further details when we get them.
While this year’s forecast doesn’t stray too far from the usual summertime mix of strong winds and jumbled swell, at the moment, conditions look set to be more consistent and contestable than many previous years, with four days of waves lining up on the charts.
Wednesday will see waist high swell and moderate winds from the SSW keeping faces fairly clean. Thursday sees both swell and wind rising throughout the day, with head high waves well ruffled by cross/ onshores expected by the evening.
Friday morning looks like potentially the best window for conditions, depending on how strong the wind arrives, with a solid well and decent period coupled with wind from the WSW. Expect messy waves in the overhead range, hopefully with plenty of sections for big manoeuvres. While the swell drops a little throughout the day, the afternoon will still provide contestable conditions.
On Saturday, the swell eases and the wind swings more southerly, welcoming clean waves in the shoulder-high range. If this chart holds, it could see perfect conditions for the longboarding event. On Sunday, larger swell and strong onshore winds return, seeing the event set to wrap in messy, overhead waves.
The big tides will mean action recedes into the distance towards the middle of the afternoon for those watching from the comfort of the Beach Bar, however, both morning and evening will most likely see heats take place just off the rocks at the north of the beach, which provides ample viewing from both beer terrace and headland.
The Ones To Watch
With few foreign names in the mix and classic British surf comp waves on the cards, the top British seeds are your best bet for the Open division, with recently crowned British Champ Stan Norman and QS warrior Luke Dillon both looking good for a podium finish. However, there’s plenty of other local talent in the draw who could upset them on their way, including ex-British champ Reubyn Ash and hotly tipped up and comer Lukas Skinner. Visiting South African shredder Jarred Veldhuis could also throw a spanner in the works with his solid aerial repertoire.
In the Women’s Lucy Campbell, Ellie Turner and Alys Barton are the Brits to watch, however, there are a few potential upsets coming in from overseas, including Aussie Vittoria Farmer, who enjoyed a good run on the QS in 2019 and has spent the summer lifeguarding at Fistral and South African big wave surfer and all-round shredder Tammy Lee Smith.
In the Men’s Longboarding, expect fireworks as seasoned competitors Ben Skinner and Adam Griffiths defend their thrones against a talented new guard, spearheaded by Jordan Zervas and Jack Gregarious, while veteran Sam Bleakley looks to play spoiler.
In the Women’s, Emily Currie will be looking to back up a great year – which saw her qualify for the Longboard World Tour – with a solid result at home, while the sharp noseriding of up and comer Izzy Henshall and smooth style of Fistral standout Candice O’Donnell will undoubtedly also pose a threat if the conditions play ball.
You can check out the whole heat draw here.
Aside from the festival, which you can read all about here, there are a few events taking place around the town for you to sink your teeth into.
11.8 – On Wednesday Harry Timson is premiering his new film Stone Cold Not Sober 2 at The Dead Famous Liquor Lounge, with live music from Penny Eyes and DJ Sam Supplier. Doors are at 7. It’s free entry and free beer, so we recommend getting there in good time to guarantee a spot.
12.8 – On Thursday, we’re hosting a screening of 2012 epic ‘Chasing Mavericks’ up at our drive-in cinema, just across the bay from the Boardmasters site at Watergate. Grab a ticket to that here. In town, there are no set events, but there’ll be plenty going on. For delightful beer right in the thick of it, head to The Sink Inn, Verdant Brewing Co’s new spot, or if you can’t get a table, any of the other 15 pubs within spitting distance. (No spitting though, please.)
13.8– On Friday, it’s Terrace Sessions feat Ant Durks and DeluxX DJing alongside a Live Sax at Beach Bar, The Cabarets at Whiskers and two official Boardmasters after-parties to choose from; Mista Jam and Majestic at Sailors and Andy C at Bertie’s. (You need tickets for those last two. You can get them here.)
14.8 – On Saturday it’s DJ Miss Fifi playing world beats at Whiskers, while the official afterparty is Nathan Daw at Sailors. Tickets here.
15.8 On Sunday, it’s Charlie Hedges at Sailors for the official Boardmasters after party. But, if you’ve already had it hard enough by then and fancy a weekend wind-down, may we suggest heading up to the Wavelength Drive-In Cinema to watch the Fisherman’s Friends perform live, before their film rolls on the big screen. Tickets here.
Hosting an event this week you want adding? Slide into our DMs.
Cover photo: @lugarts