“What I’m most looking forward to is my first couple of dark and stormy rum cocktails after a day at the beach. Surfing isn’t about being serious.” Evie Johnstone.
“I loved the location for the Spring Classic. That view from the bar at sunset, and the music, was so insane,” said The Spring Classic Surf Invitational Surf Invitee, Evie Johnstone. “So I’m even more amped this year. The list of surfers is an incredible cross-section of UK surfing, and I’m proud to call many my friends.”
The Surf Invitational will bring a slew of the UK’s best surfers to compete in the low tide banks of Combesgate, North Devon, from the 2nd to the 4th of June. In the Men’s Division, surfers Harry Timson, Alan Stokes, Sam Bleakley, Mike Lay and Stan Norman, will be hitting the water. In the Women’s, a field of British talent that includes Laura Crane, Alys Barton, Sam Sunshine, Emily Williams, Lola Bleakley, and Beth Leighfield will be joining Evie.
“What I love about the Surf Invitational is that it gathers all the best UK male and female surfers, across all the disciplines, all in the water together,” said Luke Dillon, one of the UK’s best-ever competitive surfers. “To my knowledge, that hadn’t happened before. I’m stoked it’s becoming a tradition.”
“I competed as a youngster, but now surfing for me is about pure enjoyment, but that’s why the Invitational is so great, it’s all about the whole experience,” said Newquay’s Johnstone, “Also there’s the lottery of the equipment. You could get a beautiful 1960s log or a belly board – now my belly board skills are amazing, (her brother owns the famous UK belly board brand Dick Pierce), but I like the luck element. Random is good, right?”
“I was in a heat with Mike Lay and Blair Conklin, and those two were cross-stepping and carving and I could hardly even turn my three-inch-thick, one-tonne log,” laughed Dillon, recalling last year’s event. “Paddling back out having gone straight, Mike Lay styled towards me on a wave. When you are out surfing in Devon on a Saturday afternoon, having the time of your life, well, it’s big, isn’t it?”
This year the Museum of British Surfing, located nearby in Braunton, has stepped in to supply an incredible array of boards from the last five decades of UK surfing for the Invitational. Before each heat, surfers will be allocated their piece of history for the duration of the 6-person heats using an onsite lottery wheel.
Yet while the surfer, photographer, and stylist Johnstone competed on a shortboard early in her career ( in 2012 she won the UK Pro Surf Tour to become the British Champion), for her the Invitational is less about the competition and all about the fun.
“What I’m most looking forward to is my first couple of Dead Man’s Fingers dark and stormy rum cocktails after a day at the beach,” said Johnstone. “That’s my favourite tipple. Though if it’s scorching and sunny, my arm could be twisted with some Mango Rum cocktails. That would set me up perfectly to party with Alfresco Disco later. There’s enough seriousness in the world, I don’t think surfing needs to bring any more.”
Luckily, for all those looking for a post-paddle out cocktail, Surf Invitational partners, Dead Man’s Fingers, will be on hand serving up delicious rum drinks all weekend. And those not competing, can kick back with a free Dead Man’s Fingers rum taster and watch the action unfold.
Vittoria Farmer is a wildcard for the event, and one of the few overseas invitees. The Australian ripper has been working as a lifeguard in Newquay for the last few summers between competing on the Qualifying Series and chasing waves in Ireland and beyond.
“I’m so stoked to get an invite, and this will be my first trip to Woolacombe and North Devon,” said Farmer. “Hopefully I can bring some nice surfing and bad dance moves to the party. I’m looking forward to seeing some great music and having a cold beverage after a day at the beach surfing!”
Tickets are flying out! Grab ’em now to secure your place at the Spring Classic party!