Joe Koa has been a busy boy.
Juggling work, study and play is a struggle for most of us, but Joe has taken things to a new level. Whilst studying for an English and Media degree and holding down what can only be described as a silly number of jobs, he’s also helped to completely rebuild the FXU Surf club from the ground up. The results have been spectacular.
In mid-October, the FXU Surf club romped to victory in the BUCS University Surf Championships, a huge achievement which appears to have passed under the radar of the majority of us. The men’s team took first place overall in a massively competitive event attended by some 350 surfers, making it among the largest short-time surf competitions in the world.
“It was an amazing weekend”, enthuses Joe over a well-earned coffee, “The surf was a bit frustrating, the waves weren’t really there and a lot of good surfers went out in the first round as a result.”
“But we had a coach-load of spectators up from Tremough to cheer us on, and in the end it really paid off; it was great to get them up there and see our crew on the beach.”
Despite the tough conditions, there were some outstanding individual performances. A stunning left-hander from Billy Norways in the final guaranteed 2nd place overall in the men’s individual standings, second only to pro surfer Gordon Fontaine. Ruth Amelung, who two weeks before the competition had never been near a surfboard, did fantastically well to get into the second round.
It’s this kind of all-abilities approach that the club are very keen to promote: “We’re really trying to quash the image of the club being full of hardcore surfy blokes; in fact over 70% of our members this year are girls. We want to encourage everybody to get involved, especially if you can’t surf or won’t surf, as the society runs way beyond what goes on in the water.”
A big part of the overall success must be down to the sense of fun that the society tries to embody. Whilst other teams were sticking to early nights and healthy diets with the kind of scary determination usually associated with Olympic athletes, the soon-to-be champions were altogether more relaxed. Joe recalls: “We told everyone that we’d been having early nights in and practising yoga. Of course, everybody knew we’d just been partying hard.”
Regular socials and events fuelled by a long-running partnership with Skinner’s Brewery are a big feature; the club make efforts in mixing their love of waves with a generous helping of all round fun. A trip to Portugal is in the pipeline, and in December the club will be heading up to the brand new Flowrider static wave in Newquay. Also, and without giving too much away, Joe reckons that inflatable sharks and rubber rings are on the agenda in the not too distant future.
The club is certainly a different proposition to offerings from previous years. Traditionally, FXU Surf has suffered from a common problem; it generates a flood of interest at Freshers’ Fair but struggles to attract a lot of paid up members from the hundreds who sign up initially. All our societies seem to fall victim to this particular issue, but Joe and fellow president Bryn Christian are making strides to gain a wider membership. Like most societies here, a small initial outlay can reap you a lot of rewards. Discounts on everything from boards to lessons are on offer for a meagre ten pounds, and FXU Surf offer an opportunity that most of us will struggle to come across again in later life.
We’re all fortunate to live here, and we’ve got some great clubs and societies to take advantage of our surroundings. What other universities could offer you surfing, sea swimming, sailing, hiking or rock climbing on your doorstep? FXU Surf and others are making great leaps in making these activities accessible and fun for everyone here. Most of the societies are only a Facebook search or tweet away. So you’ve really got no excuse not to get up, get out and try something new. You might even enjoy it!