Anyone who competed at the 2007 World Surf Kayaking Championships, held in Basque Country Spain, should be commended. The level of competition among nations and paddlers was fierce, as were the waves. Dynamic ocean conditions brought on by autumn storms and strong tides kept both the paddlers – and contest organizers – guessing where to be to get the goods. A total of 17 nations were represented, with ten full teams in attendance. Boat classes were high performance (HP, short boats with fins) and international class (IC, long boats with no fins); paddlers may compete both individually and as part of a team. Categories are for juniors, women, and men’s open, masters (40 and over), and grand masters (50 and over).
The main contest site was in the small resort town of Bakio, which offered relatively consistent, thumping beach breaks, especially on a higher tide. The alternate site was the famously long and fast left of Mundaka, a small fishing village occasionally overrun with professional surfers and kayakers (the ASP tour was there in early October). At both breaks, paddlers bravely committed themselves to mostly short rides followed by an almost guaranteed close encounter with a sand bar, hastened by the pounding wave. Luckily, no one was hurt, though a few came close. Many paddlers got either the ride, or the beating, of their lives.
The next world championships will be held in 2009 in Peniche, Portugal.
Over the course of a week, the field of individual and team competitors narrowed. The wave at Mundaka gave team competitors quite a thrill, but due to quickly changing tides, it was only good for a few hours each day. At Bakio, wave quality suffered at times, especially during the women’s and junior finals. The teams that made it into the finals were Basque Country, Jersey, England, and Northern Ireland, with USA West and USA East finishing just behind the top four (5th and 6th place, respectively). The team from Scotland received honorable mention as being the ‘most fun’, both on and off the water.
The men’s finals (open long and short, master’s long and short) were held at Bakio, and they were fortunate to receive some of the best waves of the whole event. Magnificent 4+ wave sets gave competitors ‘rides of a lifetime’, said master long boat champion Buck Johnson (USA West). In the open short boat (high performance) final, Rusty Sage (USA West), Chris Harvey (Jersey), Sean Morley (USA West) and Edu Etxeberria (Basque Country) battled for increasingly risky drops near the rocks. All the paddlers had tremendous rides, but Rusty Sage – the 1997 world champion – came out on top. Irish paddler Leonard Kelleher inched out a win over Edu Etxeberria, Jonny Bingham (N Ireland), and Darren Bason (England) in the open long boat final, while Sean Morley took the master’s short boat final, beating out Simon Hammond (England) by half a point.
The women’s and junior finals, held two days earlier, were won by: Tracy Sherrington (Scotland) in women’s IC, Valerie Bertrand (Canada) in HP, Chris Hobson (North Ireland) in junior IC, David Speller (Jersey) junior HP, Ross Fulcher (USA East) grand master IC and Kevin Quinn (Northern Ireland) grand masters HP.
Results from the finals below:
- MASTERS SHORT FINAL
- 1. Sean Morley (USA) 58 pt.
- 2. Simon Hammond (England) 57.5
- 3. Txema Carreto (Basque Country) 37.5
- 4. Erik Miller (USA) 16
OPEN LONG FINAL
- 1. Leonard Kelleher (Ireland) 75 pt.
- 2. Edu Etxeberria (Basque Country) 70.5 pt
- 3. Darren Bason (England) 62.5
- 4. Jonny Bingham (N.Ireland) 51
MASTERS LONG FINAL
- 1. Buck Johnson (USA) 52 pt
- 2. Dennis Judson (USA) 51
- 3. Gary Adcock (England) 49.5
- 4. Richard Hobson (N.Ireland) 48.5
OPEN SHORT FINAL
- 1. Rusty Sage (USA) 67.5
- 2. Sean Morley (USA) 61.5
- 3. Chris Harvey (Jersey) 60
- 4. Edu Etxeberria (Basque Country) 60
WOMEN LONG FINAL
- 1. Tracy Sherrington (Scotland) 36 pt
- 2. Jameson Riser (USA) 36 pt
- 3. Ailsa McDougal (Jersey) 22
- 4. Erica Chisholm (N.Ireland) 16.5
JUNIORS LONG FINAL
- 1. Chris Hobson (N.Ireland) 57.5 pt
- 2. Corin King (N.Ireland) 46.2
- 3. Alan Knox (N.Ireland) 42
- 4. Philip Watson (England) 39.5
GRAND MASTERS LONG FINAL
- 1. Ross Fulcher (USA) 52.5
- 2. Buck Johnson (USA) 49
- 3. Rick Starr (USA) 41
- 4. Malcolm Pearcey (England) 16.5
GRAND MASTERS SHORT FINAL
- 1. Kevin Quinn (N.Ireland) 87 pt
- 2. Phil Carpenter (Wales) 63
- 3. Steve Davenport (England) 57
- 4. Andrew Hawker (England) 54
- 5. Peter Day (England) 33.5
JUNIOR SHORT FINAL
- 1. David Speller (Jersey) 54 pt
- 2. Sam Davenport (England) 45
- 3. Ibon Agirrezabala (Basque Country) 38.5
- 4. Chris Hobson (N.Ireland) 34.5
WOMEN SHORT FINAL
- 1. Valerie Bertrand (Canada) 46.5 pt
- 2. Treesa Rogerson (USA) 34.5
- 3. Devon Barker (USA) 32.5
- 4. Ailsa McDougal (Jersey) 22.5