Talented Sporting Youngsters Feature - Josie Hawkes

Josie Hawke 


Josie Hawke – already a great surfing success


The picturesque Pembrokeshire coastline provides a wonderful backdrop to Josie Hawke’s sporting aspirations because the waves that abound there provide her with the perfect arenas to practise her surfing, where she is already catching the attention of the Welsh and UK selectors as she competes way beyond her 13 years as reward for her total commitment.
She is very much from a surfing family because her parents Izzie Pullin and Adrian Hawke are very much seasoned campaigners who quietly admit to being over 50 but still enjoy the spills and thrills that surfing provide - so it was natural from her much younger days Josie went with them and experienced what it was like to simply stand in the white water at nearby Whitesands and Newgale, where she was soon on a small surf board and then moving on to more high-performance board as the next stage of her progression.
Of those two nearby venues (the family live in Penycwm), she says that the former beach is brilliant when it is not busy and the latter provides what she calls ‘softer waves’ and in reality are slightly less powerful but they allow for a different type of surfing.

Off to a great start!

Josie told PembrokeshireSport.co.uk that she entered her first competition in 2021 when she entered the Rip Curl Gromsearch and came a creditable second - and despite being only ten at the time she then entered the Welsh National Championships (which at that time were traditionally held at Freshwater West and although there wasn’t an under 12 category caused quite a stir by coming first in both the under 16s and under 18 categories!
“In 2022 I came first in the Rip Curl Gromsearch UK under 12s event and later that year I won the Welsh Nationals at under 12 level, which I was really pleased about - and in 2023 I represented the UK Surfing in the European Championships and came equal fifth in Taghazout, Morocco.

A change of venue but still made history

It certainly hasn’t been all plain sailing and despite a sussessful 2022 Joise’s first competition of the year, the 2023 Rip Curl Grom Search saw her making an early exit in challenging conditions at Fisral beach in Cornwall.  Josie uses these experiences to focus on what she needs to work on, like heat strategy, fitness or equipment changes, and not doing so well in a competition motivates her for next time.
She also competed in the Welsh Championships, when after over 30 years of being at Freshwater West they were switched to Llantwit Major but it made little difference to Josie as she won Welsh Nationals at under 14, under 16 and under 18 to make history by being the first girl to win all three titles!

Riding the crest of a wave


Fighting back from injury

Even worse perhaps came in June of this year when Josie broke her shoulder skating on the eve of a competition in Newquay, and it took five weeks until she was back in the water - and she ready admits that watching her parents and other aspiring young surfers (known as ‘groms’) was torture because she couldn’t join them.
Understandably, when she got back into the water her shoulder felt weak but she just kept on doing her strengthening exercises at home, which certainly helped – From September through until November there are a number of competitions, where Josie often finds herself as the youngest competitor, and recognizes that she is building for the future and gaining invaluable experience against adults or older juniors. 
The Grom Series organized by Surfing England has allowed Josie to compete against the best girls in the UK and is more targeted at younger surfers (under 14). Josie missed some of the events due to her injury or them being cancelled, but those she has competed in she came third, showing that she is up there and is capable of doing well against the best U14s in the UK.
 A big test came in the British Cup, where Josie represented Wales in the senior category.
“Big swells brought heavy waves at Fistral so that even paddling out was scary and I had to overcome that fear and I’m glad I did because it gave me a huge boost of confidence for when I surf bigger waves in the future.” 
“I was amazed by Josie’s resilience, paddling out at mighty Fistral, where even the adult surfers were struggling. I was a little worried, mum could barely watch, it was so big and pounding,” admitted her dad, Adrian Hawke.

Excellent skill


Other sports and interests

Outside her passion for surfing Josie also enjoys other sports like tennis and netball, and in the former sport she plays at St Davids and Haverfordwest, with three county titles already claimed. She plays as often as possible and in this season’s county championships she came out as winner of the junior girls at under 14 and under 18 age groups.
In netball she plays for St Davids School and in Fishguard for the Dragons under 14s at centre, goal or wing attack. Josie also trains with St Davids under 16s but sadly there are insufficient numbers to form an under 14 team.
Outside these sports Josie is also a very keen musician and had s already achieved grade four on the piano and has taken up playing the guitar as another interest!

Favourite venues

Talk to Josie about the future and she would say that taking on the challenge of bigger and better waves will be great because that is the way to increase her potential - and she would also like to compete against more experienced and excellent surfers as the way forward.
“I would love to surf at Raglan in New Zealand as it’s a left-handed surf and I enjoy surfing backhand. Warm water surfing anywhere, without a wetsuit is also a dream. My favourite breaks so far have been in Anza or Mysteries in Morocco and nearer to home, as well as Whitesands and Newgale there is also Abermawr - and I also enjoy Monkstone when the surf works well there, and I’m seeking out other more challenging waves that Pembrokeshire has to offer.

Superb balance


Lots of help provided

Ask Josie for those who have been a great help to her and as well as her parents she would nominate Phil Sadler, the highly-respected Pembrokeshire coach and this coaches on the GB Pathway, where she is now one of four young Welsh surfers involved and attends regular training at Bristol with Joel Grey.

This innovation began in September and its aim is to identify those with the most promise and develop that talent to its highest level, like major international championships right up to the Olympic Games.

“The GB Pathway is another great way for me to improve because it offers technical training and monitored development, alongside lots of surfing analysis alongside surfing with friends.”
Then there’s Miss Rachel Thomas, the head of St Davids School, who is always full of encouragement for her surfing.
“Further support has also come from Mystic (wetsuit etc.) and locally from Ripple Affect and Spyder clothing, as well as Sports Aid.  I don’t have a board sponsor, if anyone likes the idea of me riding their boards”!

And finally . . .

“And that is probably the key to my enjoyment of surfing because it’s a great feeling just to get out there with family and friends as there is always such a good vibe amongst us, with everyone cheering each other on.
“The best feeling has to be when you try to land a turn and after lots of effort it finally works and you get that rush of adrenaline that is really hard to describe.”
One only has to chat to Josie Hawke for a short while to see her passion for surfing shine through – as we did at PembrokeshireSport.co.uk – and we can only wish this modest and talented young sportswomen continued success because she really does deserve to achieve her ambitions!

Josie in action