I'm not very good with early starts, but when friend and local surf aficionado Scotty messaged to say that the second King of the Point surf competition was green for go and that he would be getting 'there' for 6am, I realised this meant 'tomorrow' was to start horribly early.
King of the Point is a surf competition organised by Secret Spot surf shop's Tommo and Scotty, it is held at two breaks on the North Yorkshire coast. The "waiting period" can last several months as the competition can only go ahead if and when conditions become favourable to the location. The standard of contestant is high and hopeful participants from across the UK are asked to provide evidence of them surfing "double overhead". As a non-surfer with only minimal insight, I try to pick up meaning from context...
Monday the 18th March and an unfettered sun rose some time after I did; everything looked pretty impressive. A small location on the Yorkshire coast already invaded by board wielding neoprene warriors spilling out of their vehicles with their partners, friends and dogs. Early observation: Gridlock-by-the-sea. Abiding thought: "How early did they get up for this?"
Three, hour-long heats at both locations offered the contestants an equal share of time in the water - those who travel some distance to compete wouldn't likely rejoice at being knocked out in a first round so the competition is designed to avoid this. Flags and horns are used to mark the start and end of each heat and a small panel of local judges give marks to each colour coded entrant on a variety of surfing principles. This is a well thought through event and must take some organising. What I find striking is the sense of community, but equally favourable - the complete lack of ego. All together less favourable, the toilets are of historical format (think Mesolithic).
Deliberate human interaction with a conveyor belt of North Sea big-ripple makes for a surprisingly enjoyable spectator sport and unless you are the sort to jump out of aeroplanes with a fancy coloured wing-suit, it is hard not to be impressed by the mentality of anyone who would choose to override instinct to the point where this activity becomes palatable, let alone desirable. However, there seem to be plenty of takers...
Paul J James Photography