Our project aim: To celebrate 50 years of surf culture and big-wave riding in Britain by installing a bronze surfboard sculpture overlooking The Cribbar at Towan Headland in Newquay.
STOP PRESS Calling all UK surf industry companies. We’re now offering a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to back this project and show your support for British surfing heritage. For a £1,500 pledge you can become a Gold Sponsor of the project and your company name / logo will be displayed on the plinth of the monument itself. Scroll down the list of rewards (far right) for full details.
Photo: © Geoff Tydeman
About the project:
Newquay has been the commercial and cultural centre of UK surfing since 1965 when the country's first surfboard factory (Bilbo Surfboards) and two retail outlets opened in the town. The sport took off, and Newquay has never looked back. 1965 was also the year that a landmark big-wave session went down at The Cribbar, the spectacular reef break off Towan Head. It marked the birth of big-wave surfing in Britain. To recognise and celebrate this important anniversary, we’re trying to raise £15,000 to put up a bronze surfboard monument on Towan Head, overlooking The Cribbar. It would:
- Celebrate 50 years of surf culture in the UK
- Honour the pioneers of big-wave surfing here
- Attract national media attention
- Create a new and unique visitor attraction
"I support the campaign because I think it's important that we remember where it all began and remember our roots. I feel stoked to be a part of it." –Ben Skinner, 2014 British and European Longboard Champion
Ben Skinner charging The Cribbar. Photo: © Geoff Tydeman
What is The Cribbar?
The Cribbar is one of Britain’s most famous big-wave surf spots. This awesome wave only breaks a handful of times each year, when a ‘perfect storm’ of oceanic variables all come together: a huge swell, low tide and light southeasterly winds. The Cribbar is Cornwall’s version of world famous big-wave spots like Waimea Bay (Hawaii) and Mavericks (California). When it’s on, it’s one hell of a spectacle. Want to see some of the biggest waves in Europe? Want to witness some thrilling big-wave surfing? Want to feel the earth shake? This is the place.
Epic Cribbar. Photo: © Geoff Tydeman
A bit of history
It was back in September 1965 that surfers Bob Head (Aus), Rod Sumpter (GB) and Jack Lydgate (USA) became the first to paddle out to The Cribbar and ride it. The waves were huge – triple overhead, with 15 to 20 foot faces. Bob and Jack were experienced lifeguards who’d ridden solid waves in Australia and Hawaii. British-born Rod was the new kid in town, just 17, but he also had a Hawaiian season under his belt. Without wetsuits, leashes or any kind of rescue backup (besides each other), the three surfers paddled out to the lineup... Bob and Rod both caught waves during the short session that followed, with Rod getting the best one, a booming right-hander. But Jack was caught inside by a huge clean-up set and he lost his board, which was swept onto the rocks and smashed. That signalled the end of the session and the three surfers headed back to shore, Jack 'doubling up' on Bob's board. Although the session was short and only witnessed by a handful of the surfers’ mates on the headland, it was nevertheless a significant milestone for British surfing.
"We paddled out from the lifeboat ramp, all three of us. It was a really long paddle, and as we were paddling out, Rodney got well ahead of me and Jack. He was probably 600 yards in front of us... The next thing we knew, a huge set came through and we saw Rodney screaming down this wave. So, no question, on that day, Rodney rode the first wave. That’s what happened." –Bob Head, pioneer Cribbar surfer.
High drama at The Cribbar in 1965: Bob Head (left) pushes his 10-foot board over a set wave while Jack Lydgate (right) looks on. Rod Sumpter is out of view behind the peak. Photo: © Dennis White
A year later, in September 1966, another band of surfer-lifeguards took up the Cribbar challenge. This time three Aussies paddled out – Pete Russell, Rick Friar and Johnny McIlroy – accompanied (for a second attempt) by Hawaiian Jack Lydgate.
In recent years The Cribbar has been ridden by a steadily growing number of surfers including Ben Skinner, Josh Hughes, Rob Small, Chris Bertish, Richard Dodds, Dom Moore, Spencer Hargraves, Gareth Llewellyn, Russell Mullins, Ben Baird, Simon Greenwood, Russ Winter, Nick Healy, Sam Lamiroy, Marcus Lascelles, Leon Mansfield, Ben Granata and several others. Some still do it the hard way, paddling into the Cribbar’s difficult and shifty peaks on eight-foot boards; others go for speed thrills, towing-in behind jetskis. Only expert surfers can ride The Cribbar but everyone can watch the action from the headland and get involved, hooting and applauding the best waves ridden.
Photo: © Geoff Tydeman
To celebrate half a century of surf culture in Britain and mark the 50th anniversary of the first session at The Cribbar, we want to raise £15,000 to put up a bronze surfboard monument on Towan Head.
In its simplest form, the sculpture will be the size and shape of an authentic 10-foot Malibu surfboard, exactly the type ridden by The Cribbar pioneers in the mid ‘60s. It will be cast in a metal foundry, after a mould has been produced from a board shaped by Chris Jones (who made boards for Bilbo in the ‘60s and ‘70s).
The main cost of the project is the cost of manufacturing and installing the sculpture – bronze ain’t cheap! We have already raised £1,300 in the form of cash donations and pledges. We have the support of Newquay Town Council in the form of a pledge for £800, and from Cornwall Council who will bear the costs of insurance, maintenance and planning permission for the monument site. Now we’re hoping to raise a further £15,000 from crowdfunding to complete the project. With your help we can do it! Please support the campaign by making a pledge. We’ve got the ball rolling with some great rewards, and we’ll be adding many more in the weeks to come, so keep checking this page.
This is an 'all or nothing' project. In order to make it happen we must hit that £15,000 target. So please make a pledge today.
Let’s celebrate 50 years of an awesome sport...and an awesome wave!
Above: Monument simulation on site at Towan Headland
Photo: © Geoff Tydeman