Royal Navy Surfers make a splash at the 2023 Championships

Storyline: Surfing

The Royal Navy Surfing Championships took place at Tolcarne Beach, Newquay, on 7 December 2023.

The annual competition, open to surfers of all abilities from across the Navy and Royal Marines, was postponed from its usual window in October due to unusually flat conditions. 

The conditions on the day were anything but flat, with waves generally in the shoulder-to-head-high range but with frequent larger sets that were well overhead – challenging for the less experienced competitors but certainly “contestable!”

The competition included the usual disciplines of Bodyboard, Longboard, women’ Open and Shortboard Open, and stand-in Competition Secretary Lt Ryan Woodridge did an excellent job of corralling the surfers between running and back and forth to the beach to surf his multiple heats in both Bodyboard and Shortboard. Possessing superhuman energy and enthusiasm despite the grey, rainy weather and challenging surf, Ryan took the Bodyboard win for the second year in a row and placed 4th in the Shortboard.

The women’s Open looked a sure thing for defending champion and favourite AB Leni Milne. However, the decision to sit ‘out the back’ and try to pick off the larger waves proved wrong.  While AB Milne and fellow short boarder AB Chloe Thorne struggled to find a rideable wave among the big ‘close outs’, relative beginner Lt Patricia Longthorp stayed busy on the inside in the whitewater, with her far higher wave count ultimately leading to victory.


The Longboard final also proved dramatic—the field reduced to just two who managed to battle through and get into position, with AB Levi Jack showing exceptional dedication to the sport after losing his board, swimming back in to collect it and then paddling back out to rejoin the final. Ultimately, Cpl Ryan Joslin won with some impressive rides (and equally impressive wipeouts!)

As per previous years, the highlight of the event was the Shortboard Open final, where the large waves gave the RN & RM’s best surfers the chance to show off their skills. AB Jake Sage, aka Jake the Ripper, again won in a closely fought final. Lt Cdr Ollie Judd claimed Wave of the Day with one of the competition’s longest rides, culminating in the ‘running over’ of a fellow surfer who had unwisely paddled right underneath him.

Competition complete, the competitors retired to the Wax bar and restaurant in Watergate Bay to relive the highs and lows of the day and receive their trophies and prizes. The RN Surfing Association would like to thank their sponsor, the management consultancy firm Squarcle, for generously donating this year’s prize fund.

The RN Surfing Association aims to provide quality training opportunities for all its members throughout the year. The annual Championships are just one of many events and trips that RNSA members can participate in, with Beginner Weekends, Intermediate training sessions, and surf camps/tours regularly in the UK and abroad. Get in touch to learn more, or find the Surf Navy group on Facebook.