Chris our new best friend with 4 wheels arrived around 8:30am to pick us up and head down to Croyde beach, North Devon. Down there we were going to spend the morning meeting with the RNLI Lifeguards, sponsors of Devon11 and captain a few teams of ripping surfer kids from around the coast of the Atlantic.
After a 45min drive we arrived at the beautiful Croyde beach, the only way I can describe it would be "Oil Painting". We met many of the lifeguards including area manager Vaughn, who by chance, used to work for Waverley Council back 20 odd years ago. Was great chatting to all of them about how busy their season had been and finding out they just recently had a day that included 56 rescues and a major spinal where there helicopter actually landed on the beach. Croyde beach is half the size of Bondi but can fit nearly just as many. Reason being the tides are so big the beach can be 3 times as deep. Its also home to Dasiy the surfing cow. Very funny.
We then moved over to the other side of the beach where one of the many Devon11 competition areas were. This housed events such as, Surfing, Body Boarding and Goat boating just to name a few. Here we were gonna team up with all these extremely talented grommets (young surfers) and battle it out in a Surf tag competition. Basically, each guy or girl in the team must run down and paddle out around a marker buoy. On the way in he must get 1 wave and do a cool surfing manoeuvre although in this case it was Cockroaches, Coffins or Kangaroo's. Big congrats to Gonzo's team, mostly made up of Frenchies, who took out the gold.
Lunch time in Croyde beach can only mean one thing, The Thatch. Its a little bar / restaurant. The food cooked by a super friendly South African guy and its delicious. If your ever in that neck of the woods do yourself a favour and have the lasagne.
Over the hill to Saunton Sands beach we went to meet with the crew from the surf life saving club and check out the junior lifeguard program they have recently started running for the little guys that wanna do more than just nippers. The kids were fantastic and actually made me feel a little intellectual. We were also there to check out all the surf lifesaving action and hand out some medals for the Atlantic Watersports Games. Saunton sands beach is much bigger than Croyde but much safer, there were fun waves for the event. The competition was super fierce and there were many close races, very exciting to watch. Once the real athletes finished up we had our own little board rescue race using some of the junior nippers as patients. Maxi got a wave in to take line honours but I made my patient charge past Gonzo before the line to take second. Let that be a lesson kids "never, ever, give up" :) Special thanks to the lovely crew at Saunton Sands surf lifesaving club for being so welcoming, you guys really made us feel at home.
From there we onto the Devon11 Athletes village for dinner then straight back to our hotel for shut eye. It was a massive day in the sun and we were beat !
Day 2 at Devon11 was a little less full on but we still thought it best to start the day with another big english breakie from our hotel. It was then straight down Westward Ho ! beach. No thats not a spelling mistake, Westward Ho ! is the only place in the world to officially have an exclamation mark at the end. We were down there to try our hand at kite surfing but unfortunately the winds weren't gonna play nice and it wasn't quite strong enough to hit the water. Although i was jumping out of my skin to have a crack we still managed to have a little fly on the beach. Maybe next time :(
Wrapping things up for the games they bring in bag pipes and all. Its a big afternoon where they hand out trophies for overall winners of each events. We heard many war cries from many countries, some I understood, some i didn't. Its good to see such friendly competitiveness from young kids from different countries and cultures.
Just like to say a thanks to everyone from Devon11 for being so welcoming and taking such great care of us. Special mention has to go to the bloke in the photo below. His name is Chris and he is, by far one of the loveliest guys i have ever met. Not only was he working 16 hour days over the last week making sure the event was going smoothly and everyone was happy. Then the poor bloke had to look after 3 Australians for the last 3 days. The guy showed qualities i thought were lost in humans in this day and age. I'm proud to now call him a friend and hope we don't lose touch. Thanks for everything mate !
Getting to Exeter airport early Friday morning was always going to be problem for us as it is a nightmare public transport wise. but when you're in a pickle there is always family somewhere to help you out. Let me introduce you to my wonderful cousin Helen pictured below. We had only met once when i can remember 3 years ago but before that she was around when i was a baby. She made the hour drive to come see me a Croyde last Wednesday and while there heard about our dilemma. Being the saint she is she came back with the family tonight, picked us up, drove us to their beautiful 1700 year old family home in Sticklepath, Devon, made us give her our dirty washing and is insisting she drive us to the airport in the morning. Thanks you very much Helen :)
It's 12:15am and I have another big day tomorrow so its snore time for me.
Ireland and boy are we excited.
Chow for now !!!