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Commonwealth Games 2002

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Monday, 3 December, 2001, 20:25 GMT
Surfers miss legendary wave
Russell Winter, European champion
European champion Russell Winter hoped to compete
Britain's toughest-ever surfing competition has come to an end without a single board entering the water.

A dozen top surfers waited for three months to tackle a legendary 30-foot wave called The Cribber, of the Cornish coast at Newquay.

But the right conditions never came, and now the 1,000 prize will not be given.

The call went out for an attempt at the Cribber Challenge on 17 October, but when the surfers lined up on the beach, the wind changed and took the tops off the big rollers.

A safety team trained with Jetskis, inflatable boats and a Sea King helicopter.


It is not a wave that breaks every week or even every month

Tom Crawford, contest director
The highly-dangerous wave off Newquay has been ridden only rarely since being conquered by three Australians in 1966.

The Cribber Challenge was the first attempt to see it ridden in competition.

Ocean experts watched closely for approaching conditions likely to rouse the giant off Towan Head, at the north end of Newquay's famous Fistral Beach.

Tom Crawford, contest director, said: "The ultimate decider with the Cribber Challenge was always going to be the conditions.

Rollover prize

"We needed spring tides, a big swell and manageable winds.

"It is not a wave that breaks every week or even every month."

The wave also had to appear during daylight.

weather map
Suitable conditions failed to materialise
The organisers hoped the contest would answer overseas critics who dismiss British surfing for its lack of big waves.

Mr Crawford said: "We stated at the start of the waiting period that we would only be prepared to run the Challenge in quality big waves"

Gul, the Cornish wetsuit company behind the contest, plans to offer the prize again next year.

The organisers are also looking for alternative locations to maximise the chance of running Britain's first big wave event in 2002.

But other efforts are continuing to try to establish Newquay as a world-class surfing location.

Shaping waves

A team bidding to create an artificial reef off the resort has switched the location away from Great Western Beach, to avoid problems for fishing boats and other harbour users.

Giant sandbags will be dropped in two rows off Tolcarne Bay to create high, long-lasting waves.

The 200-metre rows shape the way waves break.

Dr Kerry Black, a member of the reef project team, said: "The problem with the beach at the moment is that when a wave comes in it all breaks in one go - it's what is called 'closing out' in surfing."

The project needs much more funding before it can go any further - but the promoters say it would bring year-round economic benefits.

See also:

17 Oct 01 | England
Surfers wait for biggest wave
05 Oct 01 | England
Fishermen oppose surfers' reef
07 Sep 01 | UK
Surfing's hidden dangers
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