Countryfile. Got to be up there with the best of them in the Sunday-night tellybox rankings. And it’s about to get better, as this Sunday (the 12th of Feb) the Beeb are broadcasting an episode from the Isle of Wight, the greatest county in the land.
There’ll be Country speed dating and campervan tours, but the episode comes to a climax when Ellie Harrison (presenter) gives surfing a go at our most popular West-coast beach, Compton. Not sure if they thought about the fact it is Febuary and really really cold, but to be fair they all got out there – cameraman included.
The Isle of Wight Surf Club is one of the oldest surf clubs in Europe – the Island has been surfed since the sixties – and thank’s to Paul Blackley, a local surfer, all of the Island’s surfing heritage has been recovered and collated in one place – the Wight Surf History Project.
The Isle of Wight Surf Club had been disbanded for years by the time this came along but with Surfing becoming more and more popular, island-based eco clothing company Rapanui decided to reinvest some profits in it as a community project. Now with a solid membership, a series of competitions and tournaments plus a learner-programme that took 90 beginners surfing for free last year, the Surf Club resurgence is going strong. There’s a handful of surf businesses and a dedicated bunch of individuals involved in running the club now and we’re stoked to have been able to help get it back on it’s feet.
It was on the Wight Surf History Site that the story of Archie Trickett and his home made surf equipment that the BBC found their story. Archie was a pretty smart chap by all accounts and made himself a surfboard and wetsuit by hand – you couldnt buy them back then. With his wife, Betty, they built a wooden house and spent weekends surfing at compton, driving their by motorbike with the surfboard on the sidecar.
Archie passed away recently and Paul at Wight Surf History wrote a moving piece. Many of the younger generations of Island surfers would not have known Archie, but his story touched a lot of people. It might have been the fact that he had hand made all his boards and suits, or the fact that he’d been out braving the cold alone for the last 50 winters:
But this slice of history related to many in the beach car park and touched a part of surfing that’s buried deep beneath all the technical suits and brand-names: the freedom, peace and enjoyment spending time at a special place on our coast. His story takes us back to the origins of surfing on the Isle of Wight, and the origins of why we started surfing in the first place.
The best part is that Archie never threw his old stuff away, and Betty was enthusiastic to share his story with others. So the Isle of Wight Surfclub helped put together a day for Countryfile: The Island’s best surfers took Archie’s old board out in the waves again. It was really quite a special day to not just have some living history there, but to try it out first hand and bring it back to life.
The Episode is on this Sunday at 7PM, BBC 1 - definitely worth a watch.