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Surfing in Jersey can be dated back to 1923 with the incorporation of arguably Europe’s first surf club, The Island Surf School of Jersey. Ever since these first members perfected the art form of prone-position riding, the epicentre of island surfing has kept to its origins in the heart of St Ouen’s Bay.
Whilst the first surf-craft were designed for prone position riding, it is believed one of the first stand up surfers on Island was Archie Mayne. Archie constructed an 8-foot all-timber board that allowed him further out to sea to where the bigger waves were breaking and succeeded in becoming one of the first locals to ride in standing tall.
It was only as the island undercame German occupation during WW2 that surfing stopped. Just as many other parts of the islands coastline, the remnants of Nazi bunkers and the sea wall are still present, making up the foundations of what stands today.
The Watersplash (Idahoe)
Starting life as a domestic residence named Idahoe, soon after World War II a local family bought the premises with foresight to develop it in line with the growth in tourism during the 1950s-1970s.
The Watersplash (or “Splash” as it is affectionately known) quickly became the go-to nightlife destination in St Ouen's Bay; frequented for its live music, dancing and late night soirees - the dream had begun and the swinging Sixties were just around the corner.
Jersey Surfboard Club
South African surfers and lifeguards Shorty Bronkhurst, Bobby Burdon and Cliff Honeysett arrive into Jersey and wowed the locals with their stand-up style. Riding giant 14ft boards they had allegedly fashioned out of old wooden flooring boards, it was here the seeds of a local surf club were sown.
In August 1959, The Jersey Surfboard Club was officially inaugurated, with Dr Peter Lea as President, and Charles Harewood as Treasurer.
The South Africans soon went to work at the Watersplash – not only as handymen – but for their skills in beach safety that would go on to further popularise this famous stretch of sand.
Almost immediately, Jersey – specifically around the Watersplash - had become the surf capital of Europe; and the list of events held at The Watersplash in those early days was staggering.
The first ever UK regional event in 1963; the first British Championship in ‘64; and a string of other national and international contests, culminating in the first two European Championships in 1969 and 1970.
In response to surfing’s growing popularity, local surfer Steve Harewood - along with Barry Jenkins and Bobby Male - started Freedom Surfboards with the waters of St Ouen's Bay acting as their testing ground.
Eventually their factory began exporting boards across Europe for some of the hottest talent, with World Champion Shaun Thompson on their roster.
Disrupting the Status Quo
With surf culture now fully infiltrating island life, it was time for the next tranche of local surfers to take to the world stage.
A pioneer in British and European women’s surfing, Arlene Maltman went on to win the 1983 European Championships, the British Championships in 1984 and 1986 and was a member of Team GB at 3 World Games.
The waters of St Ouen's Bay continued to produce some of the best young talent to succeed on the world stage. From future 11x European Champ and WSL Longboard regular Ben Skinner to the likes of Renny + Piers Gould, Scott Eastwood, Sam George all excelling at European level in the coming years.
Many of the faces from this era still dominate in the water today, acting as a beacon of inspiration for all those looking to emulate their achievements and style.
Since 2004, new guardianship courtesy of the local Seymour family has allowed the Watersplash to exist and evolve with the fast-paced surf-centric industry; of which by now the entertainment for the masses had become extreme. Art installations, 100ft motoX beach ramps out front, skateboard/BMX competitions in the carparks all set the tone for the new millennium.
Ex-World Champions and surf pioneers, Mark Richards and Jeff Hakmann visited as ambassadors for Quiksilver Grommet Trophy and the decade concluded with the 50 year anniversary of the JSC and yet another European Championships being held at The Watersplash.
Ever since the summer of '69 when Noel Redding (Bassist of Jimi Hendrix) frequently played out front; the Splash continues to provide the soundtrack.
Since then, local talents Lloyd Yates, Ali Moffat, Lizzard Channel and local shaper Ryan Herve (to name a few) have all shared the stage with international acts such as Annie Mac, Chase & Status, Rudimental, Erol Alkan, Jaguar Skills, Newton Faulkner and Ben Howard; all helping keep the beat going, during iconic sunset open mic nights or after-dark in the club.
Through many decades The Splash has become synonymous with everything surf in Jersey and has cemented its place as the spiritual home to the Jersey Surfboard Club. Along with our partners The Splash Surf Centre situated alongside the Watersplash, the next surge of promising juniors are currently learning and honing their craft in the very same waves as those original pioneers of Jersey Surfing.
Further surfing success was achieved by a number of local surfers with titles at both British and European levels including Josh Le Marquand winning u18 European longboard title and Clayton Lidster becoming European Masters Champion. Kitty Brewer, Will Masterman, Charlie Rio and Nathan Elms all notably received caps for Team GB at World Championships.