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World Bellyboarding Championships at Chapel Porth this Sunday: VIDEO
12:00pm Saturday 7th September 2013 in News
Fans of old school surfing will be gathering at Chapel Porth Beach near St Agnes this Sunday for the annual World Bellyboarding championships
This year sees the event, organised and hosted by the National Trust, return for its eleventh year and organisers are hoping plenty of bellyboarding fans will make a pilgrimmage to the beach.
Bill Makin, National Trust head ranger said: "We are delighted to once again welcome visitors to take part in this unique event at one of the most beautiful beaches in Cornwall.
"The Trust’s sensitive management of Chapel Porth for over 50 years has allowed it to retain the raw unspoilt beauty that has attracted ply riders since the early days of the sport.
Our Mid Cornwall team, based in St.Agnes, will once again be pulling out all the stops to make this small part of Cornwall the centre of the bellyboarding world."
The World Belly Boarding Championship (WBBC) was first started in 2003 at Chapel Porth by Martyn Ward and Chris Ryan as a memorial contest to the late Arthur Traveller, a Londoner who was a regular visitor with his wooden board at Chapel Porth.
From humble beginnings with only a handful of competitors it has now grown into the World Championships we see today with over 300 surfers.
From the beginning it has been a very simple, back-to-basics comp – no wetsuits, no leashes and no swim fins. A bit of wood and a swimsuit is all surfers need.
John Isaac, stalwart wooden board rider, winner of 2012 Spirit of Bellyboarding award, said: "The World Champs is truly a celebration of British eccentricity combined with a genuine love of splashing about in the sea on little bits of mostly vintage wood. A competition where woollen swimwear is awarded and sliding shorewards applauded , you'll never forget it."
The National Trust says it works hard each year to retain the special character and atmosphere the event provides, which can be tricky when faced with the huge numbers of entrants and increased publicity WBBC receives.
Adding their aim is to "welcome all, including new stories and personalities alongside the familiar boards and faces, former champions and everyone in between."
Peter Robinson, surf historian and founder of the Museum of British Surfing, said: “The art of surf riding – or bellyboarding as people have come to describe it – dates back at least a century here in Britain. Surfing prone on a wooden 'paipo' or bodyboard is in fact one of the original forms of surfing from ancient Hawaii and the Polynesian islands centuries before.
There is evidence of surfing in the UK in the very early 1900s, but it became a popular beach activity in Cornwall and Devon at the end of World War I.
A mixture of wealthy Brits travelling to Hawaii & learning to surf, and soldiers chatting to Commonwealth surfers in the trenches combined to create something quintessentially British.
A cup of tea, a cucumber sandwich and a spot of jolly good surf riding in the rolling Atlantic breakers became a must do activity for hundreds of men and women. Their equipment ranged from modified coffin lids to 'Crest Riders' made from ply with a kick in the nose.
Bellyboarding bloomed again after the Second World War as Brits returned to the beaches in their droves, and many thousands of bellyboards were made in the 1950s and 60s to service the growing demand.
Many of these original boards appear at the Champs and are still ridden all across the country in the same exhilarating way.
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