North Devon in 100 Objects: 33. The Surf Board

A fish surfboard, with white rails, a red deck and a yellow arrow on the top.

This surfboard was made by Chapter Surfboards of Braunton in the 1980s, when surfing in North Devon was really taking off.

People were surfing at Woolacombe as early as the 1920s, probably on belly boards. By the mid-60’s the number of surfers had increased, and there was sufficient activity to spread the word on the growing surfers’ grapevine that ‘there were waves in North Devon.’ However, most people seeking surf were still heading further south to the better reported territory of Cornwall.

In 1969 Tim Heyland and Dave Smith moved their fledgling surfboard building business, Tiki, from Abergavenny to North Devon.   In 1975 Mervyn (Merv) Beard, who had been shaping for Tiki, and John (Flipper) Stacey started the manufacture of Chapter Surfboards which dominated the moulded board market in Britain in the 80s. Tiki upgraded their factory and opened a surf shop in competition to the increasing number of smaller operations appearing near the region’s beaches.

By the 90s Croyde had become established as a first-class surf contest venue, hosting national championships and many locally sponsored events. It was North Devon’s answer to the famous Fistral Beach in Newquay and had grown a large native population of surfers.

With the opening of the North Devon link road in 1988 North Devon was only three hours from London, and offered many surf shops, hire locations, surf schools to cater for the demands of young people and families. With its fine beaches and waves it has become a major surf destination in Britain!

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