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OOP but maybe still of interest: Scottish surfers?

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  • Muirghein
    FYI :-) Muirghein /| http://news.scotsman.com/scotland.cfm?id=995002006
    Message 1 of 1 , Jul 11 9:15 AM
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      FYI :-)
      Muirghein /|\


      >Sat 8 Jul 2006
      >The Tartan wave
      >ROGER COX
      >SCOTLAND isn't renowned for its rich surfing history. When some of
      >the best wave riders on Earth travelled to Thurso earlier this year
      >to compete in the inaugural O'Neill Highland Open, the rest of the
      >surfing world seemed to think it was hilarious. In its coverage of
      >the contest, the Australian newspaper the Gold Coast Bulletin joked
      >about the "icy waters" of the Pentland Firth and described Scotland
      >as "a country best known for kilts, bagpipes and stuffed sheep's guts".
      >But perhaps the Aussies shouldn't have been so quick to have a laugh
      >at our expense. As a new exhibition at the Aberdeen Maritime Museum
      >shows, Scottish men and women were surfing years before their
      >Antipodean cousins even knew what a surfboard looked like.
      >Peter Robinson is curator of the British Surfing Museum, a
      >not-for-profit organisation based in Brighton, East Sussex, and the
      >man behind a new touring exhibition entitled The History of British
      >Surfing. He firmly believes that Scots may have been surfing in the
      >Hawaiian islands at the beginning of the 19th century, if not before.
      >"Quite a few Scottish people settled in Hawaii not long after
      >Captain Cook had first made contact with the islands in 1778," he
      >says. "There is a story of a chap - a Scotsman - arriving there on a
      >boat in the early 1800s and expecting to be the first white man to
      >settle, but he saw this white face in one of the outrigger canoes,
      >paddling out with the natives to greet him, and when he spoke this
      >fellow had a broad Scottish accent, so he'd been beaten by quite a
      >few years.
      >"If this guy was in one of the outriggers with the locals, he would
      >certainly have ridden waves in on the canoe, so you have to
      >speculate that a Scotsman could have been one of the first
      >non-Hawaiian people to surf."
      >We will probably never know whether or not this anonymous Scottish
      >settler had been introduced to the sport of surfing as well as the
      >art of paddling an outrigger canoe. However, we can be absolutely
      >certain that a Scot was surfing at Waikiki in the 1890s - more than
      >two decades before the great Hawaiian surfer and swimmer, Duke
      >Kahanamoku, first introduced surfing to Australia in 1915.
      >Princess Victoria Ka'iulani Cleghorn - the first known Scottish
      >surfer - was born in Honolulu in 1875 to Princess Miriam Likelike,
      >sister to the reigning monarch of Hawaii, King David Kalakaua, and a
      >Scotsman called Archibald Scott Cleghorn, a prosperous businessman,
      >horticulturist and eventual governor of Oahu.
      >Because she was second in line to the throne after her elderly and
      >childless aunt, Princess Lili'uokalani, it was predicted that the
      >young girl would eventually become queen of her country, and so in
      >1889, at the age of 13, Victoria was sent to England to receive a
      >private education which would, it was hoped, prepare her for her
      >future role as the head of a modern Hawaiian state.
      >Ka'iulani attended Great Harrowden Hall in Northamptonshire, and
      >during her school years she also visited Brighton and Dreghorn
      >Castle just outside Edinburgh, then the home of a Scots-Hawaiian
      >plantation owner called Robert MacFie.
      >However, in 1891 the Hawaiian monarchy was seriously weakened by the
      >sudden death of Kalakaua. Lili'uokalani took the throne and named
      >the young Ka'iulani as her heir, but she was forced to abdicate by a
      >group of American investors, backed up by marines.
      >In desperation, Ka'iulani toured Europe and the United States,
      >campaigning to have the Hawaiian Royal Family reinstated, but her
      >efforts were in vain, and by the time she returned to Hawaii in 1897
      >the monarchy had been abolished and the islands had become a
      >republic. The following year, while out horse-riding, she was caught
      >in a storm and came down with a fever. Her health never recovered,
      >and she died on 6 March, 1899 at the age of 23.
      >These days, Ka'iulani is mainly of interest to historians because of
      >her role as a figurehead for the Hawaiian independence movement, but
      >she was also a talented surfer.
      >The centrepiece of the exhibition at Aberdeen Maritime Museum is a
      >replica of one of Ka'iulani's surfboards, lovingly handcrafted out
      >of solid koa wood by a Hawaiian shaper called Tom Pohaku Stone.
      >Nicknamed Alihilani, or "the heavenly horizon", it is a beautiful
      >thing - a little over seven feet long and extremely thin, even by
      >the standards of today's slender competition boards.
      >"The princess actually had two surfboards," says Robinson. "One was
      >a big olo board - they could be anything up to 20 feet long. She
      >would have ridden that in the big rolling combers. The other was a
      >shorter board. Those were for more expert surfers, and were ridden
      >in more critical waves, the kind of waves that a modern-day surfer
      >would ride a short board on. So she was a really expert surfer - one
      >of the old school of surfers at Waikiki and one of a dying breed at
      >the time."
      >Is it possible that Ka'iulani could have surfed in Britain? "We
      >don't know yet, is the honest answer," says Robinson. "There's a
      >quote about her from when she was living in Brighton about how she
      >loved being 'on the water again', and at the time Brighton was the
      >sea-bathing capital of Britain, so there is a chance, but we haven't
      >found anything yet that proves it one way or the other. I like to
      >think she did."
      >Ka'iulani might have surfed in Brighton or she might not, but
      >Robinson is adamant that she never surfed on her visits north of the
      >Border. According to an information panel in the exhibition, the
      >first person ever to ride a wave in Scotland was Tris Cokes, in the
      >summer of 1968.
      >Now 56, Cokes runs a company called Homeblown in Redruth, Cornwall,
      >which makes the foam blanks that surfboard shapers sculpt into
      >surfboards. In the true spirit of a Sixties survivor he claims not
      >to remember much about the summer of 1968, but when pushed he admits
      >that it was the promise of romance - not surfing - that caused him
      >to travel to Aberdeen.
      >"I'd met a girl down here in Cornwall during the summer," he says,
      >"and she enticed us up there - myself and an Australian buddy called
      >Graham Sorensen, who was living with me at the time. We'd come via
      >Yorkshire, where we knew for sure there were waves, and then carried
      >on up to her place and found a few around there as well."
      >There is a photograph of Cokes surfing at Aberdeen in the British
      >Surfing Museum's archives, but it's difficult to deduce much from
      >it. What were the conditions like that day?
      >"Hey - I'm 56 years old," he says, "I'm supposed to remember what
      >the day was like 40 years ago? It was bloody cold in the water, I
      >remember that."
      >Thanks to the wonders of modern wetsuit technology, it's now
      >possible to surf Aberdeen's waves all year round in relative
      >comfort. By contrast, Cokes and Sorensen wore old-style "beavertail"
      >wetsuits, which only covered the upper body, leaving their arms and
      >legs exposed to the chilly North Sea.
      >The board they used was a 7'6" single-fin shaped by a New Zealander
      >called Mooney, since deceased. Cokes isn't exactly sure which bit of
      >beach they surfed in Aberdeen, but he remembers "a jetty to the side
      >of us". According to Gordon Forbes, who runs Granite Reef surf shop
      >in Aberdeen, this means it was probably a spot now known to local
      >surfers as Footdee (pronounced "Fittie"), which lies just to the
      >south of the Harbour Wall.
      >However, it now looks as though someone might have surfed in
      >Aberdeen before Cokes and Sorensen. A note in the visitors' book at
      >the Maritime Museum reads: "Brings back memories. Surfed pre-68 in
      >Aberdeen." It is signed "Sandy Mathers".
      >A quick phone around all the Alexander Mathers in the Aberdeen area
      >reveals an Alexander I Mathers of Bridge of Don, now 58, who says he
      >surfed in Aberdeen in the summer of 1966, along with his friends
      >Graham Carnegie, Brian Morgan and Dave Killoh.
      >"Graham and Brian had boards made in Aberdeen," he says, "wooden
      >boards made to a plan that they had got somewhere. The first time we
      >went out we only had one board - eight-foot-plus it would have been
      >- and we took turns. I can't remember who got the first shot, but I
      >presume it would have been either Brian or Graham. The waves weren't
      >that big, but sufficient to give it a go. Maybe a couple of feet."
      >Sadly, surfboard technology in the 1960s wasn't as advanced as it is
      >today, and the historic board they rode in the summer of '66 fell to
      >pieces years ago.
      >Where did they surf? "Just outside where the cafés are - we were
      >always posers," he laughs. Did they often get an audience? "Oh yes,
      >if you ever spoke to anyone up in Aberdeen, they all knew about the
      >guys surfing and skateboarding on the prom. 'Is it cold?' That was
      >always the first question."
      >The surfing craze soon spread to the rest of Scotland. In 1968, the
      >same year that Cokes and Sorensen made their pilgrimage to Aberdeen,
      >a student at Edinburgh University called Andy Bennetts saw people
      >surfing while on holiday in Newquay and decided to give it a go at
      >Pease Bay on his return. Not long after that, another pioneer,
      >Willie Tait, took to the waves off Fraserburgh after bringing a
      >surfboard home from a visit to California.
      >A Kiwi called Bob Treeby discovered the wealth of world-class waves
      >breaking on Scotland's fabled north shore in 1973, but it wasn't
      >until 1976 that Angus Lamond Macnie unlocked the almost unlimited
      >surf potential of the Hebrides, using a single-handed sailing vessel
      >called the Sgian Ban, especially adapted for surf exploration.
      >"One of the great virtues of Sgian Ban," he remembers, "was that she
      >could be sailed round a headland to find a great wave breaking, be
      >anchored outside the break, the surfboard unhitched and off I'd go
      >to enjoy the waves before returning to the craft and sailing or
      >paddling onwards."
      >Today, surfing in Scotland is fast becoming a mainstream sport.
      >Exact figures are hard to come by, but according to one recent
      >estimate there are more than 2,000 regular surfers in the Central
      >Belt alone.
      >Prince William boosted the sport's profile when he learned to surf
      >in St Andrews while at university there, and, following its initial
      >success, it now looks as if the O'Neill Highland Open is going to
      >become a regular fixture. Princess Victoria Ka'iulani Cleghorn -
      >patron saint of Scottish surfers - would have approved.
      >• The History of British Surfing is at Aberdeen Maritime Museum
      >until 17 September.
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