Pembrokeshire's young surfing stars are off to Portugal

Following the Welsh Championships, which recently took place in Freshwater West, the Welsh team for the European Champs was selected and it is great news that our small peninsula bagged over 50% of the slots available. 
Covid has seen many of the talented youngsters swap their gymnastic leotards, football boots and netball skirts for wetsuits and surf boards, finding talents that may have been left undiscovered if it wasn’t for the pandemic.

Poppy and Indi have been quick learners

PoppyPoppy Owen (13) and Indi Lynch (14), already accomplished gymnastics having competed for Wales on several occasions, have found that the strength and power of their previous training has enabled them to pick up surfing in a matter of months.

Starting just 19 months, ago when outdoor activity was allowed by the Welsh Government they both quickly took to the water and found their feet on the boards with surprising ease – and the dedication they have honed over the years to their training and performance has now taken a new dimension. 

Now that traditional sports are back in full swing these girls are juggling nine hours of gymnastics a week with getting in the water whenever there is a wave, which can cause inevitable conflicts, as we all know the tides and time wait for no man!

Poppy’s comments:

IndiWhen gymnastics was cancelled in Covid I had a lot of time on my hands and so I joined Indi at Phil Sadler’s Surf Group and haven’t looked back since as he’s been great. Everyone is encouraging there and my parents are brilliant in driving me around in search of waves.

It was so exciting to be selected to go to Portugal and I hope to continue to improve my skills and this is the start of travelling the world to surf.
Indi’s comments:

I started out because my dad got me surfing and lots of my friends, like the Buick brothers,  surf too because of our coastline. Both my parents are brilliant and so is Phil because he encourages us all so much.

I love competing and the bigger the waves the better, although it is scary – and in future I hope to keep competing and I’m sure surfing will be part of my life for ever.


Eddie loves a surfing challenge

EddieEddie Waring (15) has lived for sport and physical activity from an early age.  He too is an all-round athlete competing in his early years at gymnastics, hockey and athletics.  Eddie gained representative honours for Southwest of England and West Wales in athletics on many occasions.

At the age of seven his family returned to their native Pembrokeshire, where both football and rugby became his sports of choice, and his talents were obvious, being quickly selected to play for both at county level. 

Unfortunately for the team sports, the advent of covid saw Eddie spending more time in the water and honing his surfing skills.  His love of the water comes from his parents and time spent training with the Tenby Surf Lifesaving Club. This increase in confidence has driven him to competitive surfing and his placing in the Welsh Team.  He is a driven and ambitious young man with aspirations to travel the world and excel at the sport of surfing.
Eddie’s comments:

We moved back to Tenby in 2014 to be closer to family. Living so close to the sea, I was so lucky to be able to skim board and bodyboard regularly. Then  when I was about 12 my father  brought me a foamie and taught me to surf like he did when he was younger. I fell in love with being on the water and surfing in particular from the start, so it all started from there really.

Dad really has done his best for me and provided great moments like going to Scotland to surf and always encouraged my when I felt I wasn’t good enough to ‘get amongst it’ – and I would like to travel the world surfing!

The Buick Brothers are totally involved in surfing

EuanBuick brothers Euan (15) and Arthur (14) have surfed since they could walk and when you see their skills you might even think they were born to ride the waves.  During Covid, Euan and Arthur swapped surfing for more surfing!  Their routine during lockdown enabled them to take advantage of one of the best winters of surfing in memory.

Both boys have found that the sports they have chosen in their spare time perfectly complement their surfing. Fishguard Flyers swimming club has built on the strength they need to power through the toughest of waves, another sport they excel at is skateboarding, which too provides positive transfer of skills to the water.

The boys began their competitive journey in surfing in 2019 and had instant success, with both placing in their respective events which for Arthur was becoming the U12’s Champion and for Euan it was a phenomenal achievement of placing second in the U18’s longboard event at the tender age of 12. 

ArthurThroughout their training they have proven to be forces to be reckoned with, if not taking the championship titles they have always earned a place on the podium. 

Their styles are individual, with Euan proving to be a skilled and agile surfer, honing his aerial skills in the last year. He is particularly good in small waves but is fearless when it gets bigger, whereas Arthur loves big waves and surfs them with power and control.

Euan has been runner up in the Welsh U16s for two years running and also runner up at the WCSC Grom festival in the U16s.

Arthur won the U12s at the Welsh in 2019, came 3rd in the U14s Rip Curl Grom Search this year and won the U14s WCSC grom festival in 2021.

Euan’s comments:

I got into surfing because mum and dad surfed and loved the sea so I started off just playing in the sea and slowly progressed into surfing. I don’t know when that was but I know I was very young.

In early 2020 I started training with Phil Sadler, who got me into contest surfing and made me aware of new skills to work on.

Doing surf contests got me in contact with the German Olympic coach Llewellyn Whittaker, who also does coaching for the Welsh team.

This year I did a training camp in Portugal with him where I learned a lot which will hopefully help me in the upcoming European nationals.

One of my favourite things about surfing is travelling to new places.  I also enjoy competitions as it’s super sociable and loads of my friends do the contest which makes it really fun. I enjoy watching their heats and knowing that they’re watching yours.

Arthur’s comments:
My parents surf so I started going in the sea from quite a young age, and surfing just came from that.
I am inspired by the likes of  Patrick Langland Dark, Seth Morris and Logan Nichol, who are amazing Welsh surfers, and it’s really inspiring how they’ve done in the recent WQS events- and of course,   Phil Sadler, my coach, has helped me get better at competitive surfing and overall technique.

I love surfing and we sometimes stay with our grandpa in Portugal, which is super fun and there are great waves. My brother and I also recently went out to Portugal in a training camp with a few other groms from around Europe but I think my best surfing experience was when we went to Ireland in our van: the waves there were amazing and we met some other local surfers in the water who showed us around all the secret spots – brilliant!.

Surfing big waves is my favourite thing about surfing and I’m hoping to be able to get into tow surfing and maybe try to do that competitively but also just travelling to the best spots around the world with friends is definitely a goal.


Betsy has really sped through the ranks

Betsy Owen has been surfing for a short time and quickly sped through the ranks to win the Rip Curl Grom Search in Newquay, Cornwall in the summer of 21.  Betsy too is a natural swimmer whose strength and determination has shone through; she excels in the big waves,  and you will often find her out the back even on the gnarliest of days
Betsy’s comments:
Growing up in Pembrokeshire with the sea on my doorstep made it inevitable that I was going to be a sea lover. After spending tireless hours in the ocean it was not long before I picked up a surfboard.

I started off with weekly lessons with Phil Sadler at Pembrokeshire Surf School along with others who had the same drive to surf and had a passion for the sea. This became the norm and the weekly excitement made me want to do it more. Indeed I did and here we are!

There’s so many cool and talented surfers I am inspired by them all - although Mikey February, Steph Gilmore and local welsh surfer Alys Barton have all driven me to surf more and more.

Phil Sadler has really helped me to progress and keep me motivated to get better. He always reminds me to surf in any conditions and catch any wave that passes by. He’s really encouraged me over the years and made me enjoy surfing even more with his words of wisdom! Also the Buick brothers have helped me to improve and I aspire to surf like them! Not forgetting my parents who have taken me whenever they could.

I’m hoping in the future to surf in different spots all over the world and go on surf trips all over with the others. I’d also like to DJ in funky surf shacks or on the beach after a day of surfing. I’m buzzing for the Portugal trip and hope to make my country proud, but most of all surf some exquisite waves!


Katie’s life-saving has helped develop her surfing

KatieKatie David (15) is an accomplished all-round athlete, and she too began her sporting career as a gymnast, representing Wales at the inter-regional championships before leaving at the age of 11.

Her love of all things physical has ensured that she is fiercely competitive at many sports including swimming, athletics/cross country, netball and hockey to name but a few. 

Katie spends her summers supporting the Porthmawr Surf Life Saving Club, where she was first introduced to the waves at a young age; however it is only recently that she started coached sessions with Pembrokeshire Surf School where Phil Sadler was able to develop her natural flair for surfing.

Katie’s comments
I got into surfing because my family are always at the beach so my brother and I would get boosted onto waves by our parents when we were little. The surf lifesaving club I am a part of also played a part in starting me off with the sport because they have lots of boards that I used.

So many people have inspired me like Carissa Moore, Stephanie Gilmore and lots of others – and even local people who I see doing crazy stuff on the waves inspire me a lot.

Obviously my parents have supported me in surfing and driving to so many beaches and competitions but Phil Sadler, my surf coach is incredible because he has helped me improve so much.

Probably winning the Welsh Championships in the U16s girls’ category is my best achievement but I have had so many fun surfs that are up there with the best moments, like surfing in Cornwall with my friends, sunset surfs at Whitesands and early surfs on the weekends – and my ambition is to travel to other parts of the world surfing.

Nell ‘s climbed to success in two sports

NellNell Sadler is the long boarder of the group and her first passion is competition climbing where she has proudly finished overall third-placed in the BMC Welsh Climbing series before covid. The balance, co-ordination, flexibility and extreme upper body strength required for climbing became a perfect mix of attributes to enable her to develop her surf skills during covid and climb from a fourth place last year to an amazing second place this year in the Welsh Longboard Championships and earn her place in the team 
Nell’s comments:
My dad has always surfed and we watched lots of pros in surfing films so it was natural for me to follow him – and after having my first go at 8 I have been involved ever since. He has encouraged me ever since and taken me to other countries too, as well as coaching us in the competition squad.

Although it is great to win competitions some of my best moments have just been enjoying time in the water with my friends and learning how to longboard.

One of my best moments came at Isla de Lobos in Fuertaventura when I surfed a massive reef break and came a cropper, snapped my leash and went back to shore without my board – but I went straight back in and caught some good waves!

My ambition is to continue to enjoy surfing, because that is the most important thing to me.