No waves, no problem.
Okay, first things first, let’s deal with the elephant in the room. The waves for the second Spring Classic Surf Invitational were, well… there weren’t any. Pancake-flat is apt for how the conditions at Combesgate were.
And yet, did that stop the fun? Hell, no! Saturday 2nd June, 2023 in North Devon dawned bright and sunny, with a stiff 15-knot offshore breeze blowing whatever tiny swell was on offer to the back of Lundy Island and beyond.
If the conditions were fresh, we would be honest and say not all the contestants (and some of the organisers) were. The Spring Classic kicked off in epic style on the Friday, with Los Bitchos slaying the main stage straight from Coachella. The London-based all-female quartet brought the party vibes with their sweet, high-octane cumbia; a mix of Afro-Latin dance laced with rock guitar, which lanced the fresh air of the UK’s best-located festival.
Later, a headline set by Bristol MC and host extraordinaire, Gardna, brought high-energy dub, grime, and dancehall to the packed main stage. Later it was noted that a selection of the UK’s most talented surfers were spotted in the Wavelength Bar, dancing to rabid DJ sets by Benny Page and Selecta J-Man.
At the mini-pyramid of the Unleashed stage, while notorious local DJ duo, Two Scoops, brought their funk-soul-disco-house mix, a few of Europe’s premier longboarders were enjoying the famous rum cocktails from the adjacent Dead Man’s Fingers Rum Bar and perfecting their two-step technique.
That could partly explain the next day’s performance at the Spring Classic Surf Invitational. With the waves not cooperating, the Wavelength team produced a backup format seeing teams of four take on a three-legged relay, involving egg and spoon, balancing, running, paddling, more running, and a mystery wheel of misfortune to round it all off.
One notable absence was the defending champ and Wavelength Editor, Mike Lay, who claimed to have slept through his alarm. Sightings of him doing the drop knee on the Wavelength Bar dancefloor in the early hours of the night before are yet to be substantiated.
The format added an element of fitness to the Invitational, levelled the playing field, and perhaps, handicapped those that had been “practicing” on the dance floor the previous evening.
That is perhaps why the Woolacombe grommets took out the female division, defeating their illustrious peers that included Sam Sunshine, Emily Williams, Lola Bleakley, Beth Leighfield, and Evie Johnstone. In the Men’s, Cornish powerhouse goofyfooter, Harry Timson, led his team to a win.
Of course, this event has always been more about a gathering of a like-minded tribe than the spoils of victory. There may have been no waves, but the sense of camaraderie and sheer joy of being in the gin-clear Atlantic under sunny skies, and with the promise of a weekend ahead filled with wellness, incredible music, and great food meant the good vibes were turned up to 11.
As our benevolent sponsors, Dead Man’s Fingers handed out ice-cold cans of Spiced Rum & Cola, Passionfruit Rum & Lemonade and Margaritas, there was the special feeling that the Spring Classic Surf Invitational is quickly and surely becoming an epic fixture in the Europe surf scene. And if all this can be done without waves, the mind boggles what will go down next year when we see some epic Combesgate peelers.