Three cheers for Peony
SUMMER is here and it has brought the first decent waves in what feels like forever.
Surfers along the north coast have been indulging from dawn till dusk.
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There were some particularly happy faces back in the line-up as many of Devon's junior surf-team members returned to their local breaks. Among them was the always cheerful Peony Knight.
In the space of just nine days, the 14-year-old from Georgeham has competed in two national contests and one European – taking top honours in them all.
Soon after winning the under-16 girls division at the Calypso British Schools Surfing Championships, Peony was one of 15 talented riders in the Devon team who travelled to Brittany for the Atlantic Watersports Games, an event hosted last year by North Devon.
Setting up in the nearest campsite to the contest venue, the Surfing GB support team provided shelter and a campaign HQ for all the British surfers, within walking distance of the break. That gave an advantage to those who wanted to practise on the break at dawn and made for great team spirit with communal meals and outings into town on the train.
After a spectacular opening ceremony on the beach at Quiberon, three days of competition in weak summer waves tested the surfers, who showed their strength both in performance and adaptability.
It was all about the girls as Peony and Woolacombe's Lucy Campbell dominated the under-18 division, pushing each other all the way to the final where Peony took gold ahead of Lucy, close behind with silver.
It was a stunning result that showed the French, Spanish and Portuguese that the Brits are a growing threat.
Peony said: "The waves weren't the best but it was super fun and the standard of surfing was high.
"It was great meeting up with all the different teams and a catching up with friends I had made at last year's Games."
Other Devon girls to pick up medals were Croyde's Flora Lawton and Harriet Knight, Peony's sister, who took silver and bronze respectively in the bodyboard division.
The boys were no slouches either. Will Bailey continued his impressive run of performances, placing fourth in the final of the under-14s ahead of Alex Gibson in joint fifth. Taz Knight was fourth in the under-16s.
Overall, Devon had their best finish in the history of the Games, taking third place behind Aquitaine and Bretagne.
The juniors' travel schedule was so tight that, in order to get back for the Rip Curl Gromsearch at Newquay, they were not able to collect their medals at the closing ceremony.
Peony, sponsored by Roxy, continued her winning ways in Cornwall's small waves, securing victory in the under-16 girls division.
Her 12.5-point two-wave total in Saturday's heats was enough to earn her the title and an invitation to the European finals in Portugal in October.
"I'm looking forward to seeing how I measure up against some of the other European surfers," said Peony, who thanked her mum and dad for their support.