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Cornwall’s Watergate Bay will decide national surfing champions over the Early May bank holiday weekend in the 2011 Extreme Academy English National Surfing Championships. In a new development for the 39th edition of the competition, just three divisions will be contested in a single day of competition, with surfing taking place from early morning through to completion. Organisers will be able to pick the best day from a window running from Saturday 30th April to Monday 2nd May to ensure that the competition takes place in the best surfing conditions.

Organisers are confident the new format will benefit the surfers taking part. Contest director Andy Sturt from the English Surfing Federation said: “This year’s event is special in that we will be able to look at the surf forecast and pick the best surfing day. This will give each surfer the best opportunity to advance and ultimately win, and it will be great for spectators because they’ll be able to watch the country’s top surfers put on a show in the best conditions available to us.

“Surfers will be competing in the Open, Ladies and Longboard divisions and the contest will form the basis on which the selection will be made for the English surfing team to compete in the European Surfing Championships in Ireland in September.” Entries are still open for the contest, with 2010 champions Jayce Robinson (Open), Ben Skinner (Longboard) and Sarah Beardmore (Ladies) all expected to defend their titles at Watergate Bay.

Last year’s Open division produced a final where a crop of the young up-and-coming surfers demonstrated that contests are far from a foregone conclusion for the favourites on the entry list. Established surfers including Sam Lamiroy, Reubyn Ash, and former champion Oli Adams were all eliminated in the early rounds by the young finalists, with North Devon pair Lyndon Wake and Stuart Campbell both putting in stellar performances. But it was St Ives surfer Jayce Robinson who became one of the youngest ever English champions, aged 20.

The longboard division will as usual be keenly contested. Last year’s champion Ben Skinner will no doubt look to stamp his authorityon the event, but James Parry and Ben Howarth will do their best to gain top honours surfing their blend of traditional and progressive manoeuvres to impress the judges.

A significant number of the ladies have been abroad for winter training and will be keen to wrest the title from Sarah Beardmore, from Poole, who is returning to the country from overseas to defend her title and will be a subject of an ITV documentary.

The decision on which day to run the competition will be made in the week preceding the contest, with the details announced on www.watergatebay.co.uk, www.facebook.com/watergatebay and www.twitter.com/watergatebay