There are some things you would associate with our University. Costcutter. Nigel Thrift’s deep pockets. Nobody turning up at the ASM. But one thing you probably don’t associate with Warwick is surfing. As one of the most landlocked universities in the country, Warwick Surf have to put in more effort than most in participating at a competitive level. They’re sort of the Cool Runnings of the University sporting scene.
As well as boasting one of the best club websites I’ve yet come across (the exec profiles are well worth a read), Warwick Surf are currently celebrating the individual success of one particular member. Sam Mason, former President of the society, battled his way to 5th place at the recent men’s BUCS tournament held at Fistral Beach in Newquay last week. An exceptional achievement, especially considering that around 200 people took part.
Sam achieved this feat in great style, winning first place in every round until the semi-final. As well as this, he beat two of the finalists in earlier rounds of the competition, narrowly missing out on a place in the final himself. Unsurprisingly, the club is delighted at his success. Current President Harvey Francis has described him as a ‘role model’ for everyone at the society, adding that ‘it’s fair to say that he has had a tremendous impact on the club and all of its members’.
Harvey commented on how, since Sam joined the team, the club has become a lot more competitive. ‘The impression I get is that, before I started at Warwick and joined Warwick Surf, there was a long time where people didn’t really surf on tour.’ However, this seems to have changed in the last couple of years. ‘Slowly’, Harvey notes, ‘over the last couple of years, people are surfing more and more. Sam organised the first trip to Morocco last Christmas and pretty much since then all of our club boards have been in constant use on every tour.’ He also noted how difficult it is for the club being so far away from a beach, which only goes to make Sam’s achievements all the more impressive.
Warwick Surf are the ‘Cool Runnings’ of the University sporting scene.
We may be in ideal close proximity to the raucous nightlife of Leamington Spa, and just next door to the urban metropolis that is Coventry, but the university definitely isn’t in the best place for our surfers. I caught up with Sam, and he agreed with Harvey’s point on the problematic location of our uni. ‘Towards the final rounds, the majority of competitors tend to be at Plymouth, Cardiff and Cornwall College’, he said. ‘This obviously allows them to surf more often, normally weekly at least. Whereas at Warwick we tend to go monthly. So I definitely think it helps if you’re at a uni closer to a beach!’
This didn’t stop Sam from mounting a serious challenge, however, and he remarked on the high standard of the competition. ‘The competition was great fun, especially in the earlier rounds when it’s not too serious. But as it draws towards the business end of the day, the level steps up and you have to push yourself’, he told me. Sam has competed in BUCS tournaments for a few years now, as well as for local prizes back home in Jersey, and it seems that this practice is paying off in those difficult and competitive closing stages of competitions.
I finally remarked on the praise his team president had levelled at him, specifically how he was seen as a ‘role model’ by other members of the club. Sam, admitting that he was a ‘little embarrassed’, seemed keen to downplay the praise, however, and instead chose to focus on the success of the club as a whole. ‘It’s great to hear that people recognise that the Surf club is so fantastic. It’s very inclusive to all members, providing lot’s of opportunities for beginners, as well as some outrageously raucous socials!’
It would appear then that Warwick Surf is currently at the crest of a wave of success, with both Sam and Harvey commenting on the competitive standard of the club, as well as the inclusive and accommodating social aspect. Although not one of the largest sports clubs on campus, the Surf team are comfortably punching above their weight and certainly warrant close attention in the next few competitions of the season.
Article updated 21/11/2013.