Surf Club Days

By 1960 the club was ready for some new younger members to come up through the
ranks. That summer myself, Richard Claydon, Neil Houghton, Leonard Williams and
John Stephens joined the club and did our Qualifying Certificates at the age of about 13.

David ‘Alfie’ James took us under his wing and trained us up as a junior team over
the next couple of years. I remember us swimming out to Three Chimneys at high
tide one summer evening with Alfie riding herd on a ski. And bear in mind we had no wet suits in those days.

After our evening training we were invited to the back door of The Railway for an illegal half of shandy.

The author, out-back on the club’s single ski at Trevaunance Cove.

We did our Bronze Certificates in the summer of 62 when we were just shy of the
requisite 16 and I remember having to swim at dead low tide through a big dumping
surf. This was in the days of the old shingle hut which always smelled of wet towels
but was a place for us to hang out in the evenings too. We formed a Junior Team and
in the summer of 63 had a three way competition, the Junior Belt Race, with
Perranporth and Porthtowan at all three beaches, and we won all three races. I was
patient for the St. Agnes swim with Steve’O in the belt.

Despite being juniors we were absorbed into the A team, at that time with the likes of
Alfie, Ian Davie, John Williams, David Pugsley et al. The Surf Club expanded our
horizons in those days when few families had a car. We went to Surf Club Carnivals
at places like Gunwalloe, Praa Sands and of course Bude, travelling by bus and
learning to sing a lot of bawdy songs along the way (Oh we’re off to see the wild west
show, etc.) For one carnival at St. Ives we juniors travelled in the back of a lorry with
the skis and we hit a dog at the bottom of Porthtowan Hill. On another we had to stop
the bus for Neil to be sick.

There were patrols of course, and evening barbecues to raise money and it all didn’t
stop in the winter because we had Surf Club dances and volley ball on Friday
evenings in the Masonic Hall. The girls we grew up with were now joining the club,
Wendy Williams, Jennifer Docking, Merlyn and Carol Owen. I still blush at the
memory of winning a Twist competition with Toni Walker at a surf club dance.
Dougy Luke and Will Stephens joined later too. The Surf Club was indeed our total
social life and I’m always grateful to those elders who mentored us and paved the

By ’64 were getting much more interested in surfing. Although Dave Docking’s age
group were indeed the first to use mals and long wooden boards they were all family
men with jobs. My age group of teenagers were really the first to embrace surfing at
St. Agnes. I remember at one evening barbecue when the surf was just right we were
asked to come out of the water as we were luring the holidaymakers away from the
sausages. It was still a novelty sport then. We were replaced as the local surfers by
Robyn Williams, Jeremy Selby, Bunty and Kim Richards. My age group by then were
finishing high school and preparing to leave St. Agnes for various careers.

And so that was the end of an era for us. When I came back to St. Agnes to live after
my six years in the Navy the surf club was in a bit of a decline and I was involved
with the RNLI. It’s good to see what a huge thriving organisation it is these days
compared to its humble but happy beginnings in the 50’s and 60’s.

Please excuse me if I’ve left out any names, it is a long time ago!

Mike Ricks 23.02.20