Surfing pioneer Nigel Oxenden in 1923
In the 1960s thousands of people packed St Ouen’s Bay to watch the British Surfing Team (which was over 50 per cent local) riding boards made locally by one of Europe’s only board manufacturers, Freedom Surfboards.
The first Jersey Surf Club was created in 1923 by Nigel Oxenden and a group of freinds. This was probably Europe’s First Surf Club and surfing is still taught in the same place today.
The first Jersey surfers were bodyboarders and did not stand up on their boards, but lay down on them.
The first surfboards and bodyboards were made from teak and lighter woods like pine and ash during the 1930s by Mr Oxenden. These boards had hand painted heraldic designs on them and non elastic rope leashes.
Archie Mayne made an 8 foot board in the 20s and surfed standing up occasionally, although paddling an 8 foot wooden board must have been very difficult.
A 10 foot Pacific Homes Wikiki surf board was brought to Jersey in the late 40s or early 50s by a doctor who lived in California. He was seen surfing in front of the Watersplash.
During the 1990s Jersey struggled to keep up with the emerging European surfing nations.
A letter by R A Bates to the Jersey Evening Post in 1985
I am sure many old members of the Jersey Swimming Club will be surprised to learn from the JEP article of 27 September 1985 that Deputy Le Fondre was one of the first to introduce sea surfing to Jersey in 1950.
I can recall sea surfing being started in the early 1920s at the Five Mile Road beach by three JSC members, Messrs Oxenden, who also started Portelet Holiday Camp, Martin and Gordon.
We did not of course have sophisticated fibreglass boards. Ours were self-made of two pieces of 5 feet long, 1 inch thick second-hand t and g flooring boards joined with cleats.
A couple of years later Archie Mayne with an 8-food board went further out to sea to the bigger breakers and occasionally succeeded in standing on his board.
Incidentally these four gentlemen, among others, could quite often be seen diving in the summer off a specially erected 45 feet diving board at the Havre des Pas pool.
- A history of surfing in Jersey - 1, from the Jersey Evening Post
- A history of surfing in Jersey - 2, from Jersey Topic