Small waves, but an epic weekend forecast as locals gear up to celebrate North Devon’s long history of good times in and out of the water.
“Last Thursday was epic at Combesgate,” says Pete Starbuck, from Woolacombe Boardriders. “The forecast looked ordinary, but the sun came out and the wind backed off. There was a righthander off one of the rocky outcrops that was breaking like a point break.”
Combesgate is the pretty, golden sand and shingle beach nestled in the crook of the Morte Point Headland just to the north of Woolacombe Bay, North Devon. The area has just recently been named as a World Surfing Reserve, the first of its kind in the UK, and only the second in Europe. The stretch that takes in 30-miles of coastline was recognised for its high quality and diversity of surf breaks, but also the unique natural beauty of its surroundings, deep-rooted and historic surf culture, and its importance to the wider community.
The sense of tradition, community and surf culture is set to be further added to this Saturday the 27th of March when Combesgate will host the Spring Classic Surf International presented by Reef. The best of the UK surf scene will descend on the low tide banks from around 10 am to 2 pm for a day of slipping, sliding, gliding, thrills and spills. The winner will be the one not only displaying the most style but also having the most fun.
Yet if Starbuck’s froth is as real as his name suggests, and it is, the waves for the weekend aren’t looking quite as good as the week before. “I ain’t going to lie; it looks pretty small for Saturday,” says invitee, logger, lifeguard, and Wavelength Print Editor Mike Lay. “We might, however, get a bit of added wind swell from the North on Friday, and on the plus side, it should be clean and sunny. However, the board lottery may be crucial. I’ll be hoping to score a big old log.”
For the Invitational, the surfers will draw numbers out of a hat and get to choose from an array of boards provided by local board collector Billy Cox. The boards range from an early 1950s Bilbo 10’6” longboard up to a 1983 Simon Anderson thruster. In between is every size of craft, from every decade with every permutation of fins.
With surfers like Ben Skinner fresh off the plane after a runner-up finish in the World Longboard Tour event in Manly, and Californian Blair Conklin both heading to North Devon, as long as there is a wave breaking, there will be great surfing to be seen.
“The locals are just so stoked to have the calibre of surfers coming to our patch,” says Starbuck. “We haven’t had a big surf event here in Woolacombe in a decade, and this is a place that lives and breathes surfing. The locals are psyched. We want to welcome everyone to what should be a proper festival atmosphere.”
And in the spirit of the locals getting involved in every aspect of the Spring Classic, Pete will also be on the decks on Friday night to help get the party started. He’ll be just one of a few local DJ’s aiming to recreate Woolacombe’s legendary Marisco’s nightclub.
The club, which opened in 1967 and was thought to be the longest-running in the UK, closed down for good in 2020, marking the end of an era. Come Friday and Saturday at the Spring Classic, the infamous party nights will be rebooted and reimagined, for young and old.
“It will be the ultimate party mashup, hopefully distilling just some of the fun we’ve had there over the years,” concludes Starbuck. “The locals can’t wait to share the good times, in and out of the water.”
Grab your tickets now to see some of the UK’s finest surf talent at the Spring Classic Surf Invitational this weekend!