Shetland’s first ever surfing competition and the second most Northerly surfing competition in the world took place over the weekend (15-16th October 2022). The Gathering of the Clans, which is the Scottish Inter-Club Surfing Championships, attracted teams from all over Scotland to battle it out on the waves of Sumburgh for the coveted clans sword and quaich trophies.
Thurso’s North Shore Surf Club took home the title for an un-precedented 5th consecutive year with their surfers taking top spot in the Open Mens, Open Womens, Masters and Junior Girls divisions with a total of 9910points.
Current Scottish Champions Mark Boyd (NSSC) and Phoebe Strachan (NSSC) won the two open divisions and Boyd became the first surfer to become the Masters and Open Mens division champion in both the Scottish Nationals and Inter-Clubs in the same year.
The Granite City Surf Club, with the help of a couple of recruits from the nearby Broch Surf Club (BSC), surfed their way to second place in the overall team rankings, with a maiden win from Adam El-Naggar (GCSC) in the Longboard division and a win from Brocher Sebastian Ballantyne (GCSC) in the Junior Boys. Aberdeen’s Lewis Morgan (GCSC) and Fraserburgh’s George Watt (GCSC) clinched runner up spots in the Junior Boys and Open Mens divisions respectively and Campbell Scott claimed a very respectable third place in the Masters division.
60° North Boardriders, as well as being incredible hosts, had a great showing in the event with Joe Morton (60N), Peter Georgeson (60N) and Tom Wills (60N) all making finals in their divisions and doing the Shetland community proud.
A team from Glasgow University Surf Club (GUSC) were in attendance representing the South of Scotland and after day 1, when the points for divisions which had been completed were tallied up (Open Mens and Open Womens), Glasgow were in second place! This was mostly due to their team having a higher number of competitors in the Open divisions than the other teams. After the Sunday’s competition though, that strategy would let their side down as the points came in for the other divisions despite their best efforts in the Longboarding, with Finlay Todd (GUSC) and Dexter McKeating (GUSC) narrowly missing out on semi-final berths. Nicole Amber (GUSC) and Dexter McKeating (GUSC) did however make the Open divisions semi finals on the Saturday with some solid surfing, giving Glasgow reason to celebrate.
Saturday’s competition took place on the “Boat Ramp”; a fun rippable right hand reef break, which had some good size sets but a tricky devil wind, making for some entertaining wipeouts. Phoebe Strachan (NSSC) was seemingly unstoppable in the Open Women’s division with fantastic wave selection and calculated surfing, in the choppy surf, to take the win over Olivia MacKay (NSSC); one of Scotland’s finest up and coming junior surfers who is currently sitting in 3rd place in the U18 Girls division of the SSF Junior Series.
Mark Boyd (NSSC), although had already had three heat wins to make his way to the final, saved his best for last, with a three turn combo including a committed and steep re-entry on the sketchy boat ramp end section, to post an excellent score and take the win over George Watt (GCSC) in the Open Mens final with a heat total of 13.83pts. Boyd would go on to best team-mate Chris Noble (NSSC) in the Masters final at West Voe Beach on the last heat of the day on the Sunday in small shore-breaking high tide closeouts and take the Open and Masters double for the second time this year.
The Juniors and Longboards had some the best of the conditions on the Sunday at West Voe beach for early rounds but the junior finals was a nail biting affair as the tide pushed in shifting the focus of the waves. 15minutes passed without many waves ridden but Sebastian Ballantyne (GCSC) adjusted superbly to find the shore-break rights in the closing minutes of the heat and deservingly took top spot for the boys with a radical display of surfing in the critical sections. Olivia MacKay (NSSC) took top spot for the girls and also made great use of the high tide shore-break waves, doing well to gain speed for closeout reos. Goofy footer and runner up girl Tamzin Rosie (NSSC) also did some impressive surfing throughout the event.
The Longboarders had a ball for most of the event on West Voe’s reforming baynks, with Phoebe Strachan (NSSC) putting on an excellent performance in early rounds (14.17pts heat total in Rd1 and a semi final heat win over eventual winner Adam El-Nagar (GCSC)) with a display of traditional and modern longboard surfing. Phoebe, the only female in the draw, lost out to Adam El-Nagar (GCSC) by less than a point in the final. Adam posted a 6.33pts ride early on in the final for a winding right which zipped along the West Voe inside bank and Phoebe was unable to flip the heat despite Adam’s low backup score.
The Scottish Surfing Federation would like to thank 60° North Boardriders for their amazing hospitality as our event hosts as well as Shetland Community Benefit Fund, Viking Energy, Awards for All, Northlink Ferries, Shetland Sports Development Council and Mystic.