The Channel Islands

The Islands
The Channel Islands are a group of islands in the English Channel, just off the Normandy coast of France. The islands are made up of two separate administrative areas each with their own governments, the Bailiwick of Jersey, consisting of Jersey, the largest of the islands, and the Bailiwick of Guernsey, consisting of Guernsey, Alderney, Sark, Herm, Jethou, Brecqhou and a number of smaller islets. The islands are classed as British Crown dependencies, but are not part of the United Kingdom.

The Heritage
The islands have a rich surfing heritage with the Jersey Surfboard Club being the oldest recognised surf club in Europe established in 1959 and the Guernsey Surf Club following shortly after in 1964. It should be noted that there is also the Island Surf Club of Jersey, which was originally formed in 1923, which whilst it hasn’t been continuously active over the years, it is still in existence today.

Guernsey surfers have always been keen to travel and the 60’s crew were some of the first surfers to explore the coasts of Europe from France down to Morocco with all countries between, including the Canary Islands. Australia, USA, and New Zealand were on the agenda and by the 1970’s and early 1980’s they had expanded their horizons to include the Indian Ocean, Caribbean and Indonesia, being some of the earlier European surfers at these locations.

Jersey has been host to many major surfing championships throughout its history with some events back in the 1960s attracting crowds of many thousand. In recent years Jersey has played host to a number of British and European events including both the Junior (Eurojunior) and Senior (Eurosurf) European Surfing Championships in 2000 and 2009 respectively.

For more information on the islands heritage there are great articles on both the Jersey Surfboard Club and Guernsey Surf Club websites.

The Scene
Today both Jersey and Guernsey are home to thriving surf scenes with the islands producing a number of British champions and a number of British Championship finalists in all age groups and different surfing disciplines including shortboard, longboard, bodyboard and SUP. The islands are home to large numbers of surfers with surfers now coming from all walks of life. There are also several surf shops, surfboard manufacturers, a number of home grown surf brands, a number of busy surf schools and a number of surf clubs. It should be noted that as well as the two larger islands, there is also a tiny surfing community in the small northern isle of Alderney too.

The Surf
Facing out to the Atlantic the Channel Islands have fairly consistent surf with a wide variety of waves on offer from gentle sloping peelers to barrelling sand-banks. There are also a number of reef breaks including reefs in both Jersey and Guernsey that can handle serious size.

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