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Wednesday, 17 October, 2001, 16:09 GMT 17:09 UK
Surfers wait for biggest wave
Russell Winter, European champion
Britain's top surfers are on standby for the Cribber
A dozen top surfers gathered on a Cornish beach for the country's first-ever big wave contest, only to have their hopes flattened.

They had been waiting since 1 September for a legendary 30-foot wave to form over the Cribber reef, half a mile off Newquay.

But a change in the wind flattened the sea and on Wednesday morning they were told they must go on waiting for a chance to claim a 1,000 prize and the title of Cribber King.

The highly dangerous wave off Newquay has been ridden only rarely since being conquered by three Australians in 1966.

Right conditions

This is the first time it has ever been the subject of a competition.

Wave patterns have been closely monitored
Ocean experts have been watching closely for the conditions to rouse the giant off Towan Head, at the north end of Newquay's famous Fistral Beach.

Sponsor Paul Eden said: "We need a low spring tide and a depression in mid-Atlantic to create a swell.

"We need to have it in daylight hours and we need the right wind in the right place."

The wave - actually a series of peaks and troughs - did form in mid-September, but without matching the heights experienced in the world's surfing hotspots.

On Tuesday evening, the Cribber Challenge website declared a green alert - the call for a dozen chosen surfers to gather at Newquay, along with considerably more rescuers.

The wave only occurs two or three times a year so it's a very difficult call to make

Paul Eden, Cribber Challenge
Among them were three Cornish brothers, Dean, Steve and Russell Winter, who spend their winters riding giant waves in the Caribbean.

Only one woman, UK number one Robyn Davies, was among the few surfers considered skilled enough to ride the wave.

But on Wednesday morning, the challenge was called off.

Half size

"During the night some incredibly strong winds blew up," said Paul Eden.

"They weren't forecast for 48 hours.

"The Cribber has been breaking on the reefs but we only have half the size of wave that we really want.

Cribber Challenge poster
The top prize is 1,000 - winner takes all
"We are very, very disappointed the call was misjudged.

"The wave only occurs two or three times a year so it's a very difficult call to make."

But he added: "The contest will still take place - when the conditions are right."

Britain's surf reputation could rest on the Cribber, said Mr Eden.

"A lot of people don't think the UK has big surf, but it has.

"We want to use this as a showcase.

"Without that big face, we are not prepared to run the contest."

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