PEONY Knight capped an incredible year when she was crowned champion of the women’s and U18 girls’ divisions of the UK Pro Surf Tour at a glittering awards ceremony in Newquay.
The 17-year-old GB team member from Georgeham has won pretty much everything she has entered on home waves this year.
And she posted the best-ever U18 girls result at the World Junior Surfing Championship in California last month.
The women’s title race was scheduled to come to a climax at the weekend in Fistral, with defending champion Lucy Campbell, from Woolacombe, needing to place above Knight to keep the crown.
Sadly, conditions conspired to rob competitors of the final showdown.The poor surf forecast forced contest organisers to cancel the final event, which had already been pushed back by a week to accommodate the running of the Lynmouth and Llantwit Opens.
After receiving the trophy, Knight spoke frankly to the Journal about her experiences and how, following a wobble in 2014, she has come back to dominate the season thanks to the support of her family and advice from her sisters.
“If I’m really honest, at the end of last year I was a bit disillusioned,” said Knight.
“Women’s surfing for years has been struggling with sexism and it seemed that however hard I tried people were only really interested in the fashion, modelling and media side.
“I had a good chat with my sisters and decided to go for it this year – just really commit as a surfer and forget worrying about the image.
“The real highlight for me has been feeling as though women’s surfing is making a step forward and I’m really excited to be a part of it.
“The standard of women’s surfing right across Europe has escalated beyond recognition in the last few years and some of the girls I’ve been competing against in the UK and abroad have been ripping.
“For this reason, it’s been all the more amazing to have had such a great season.
“Every competition has been so enjoyable, whether I got the result I wanted or not.
“I am unbelievably happy to have finished the year ranking first in the women’s and U18 girls’.
“Boardmasters, for me, was a standout and having a good ranking in my last world juniors was probably the biggest result of my competitive surfing career to date. I can’t wait for the year ahead.”
Also showing North Devon at its best at the ceremony was Croyde surf school Surf South West, rewarded for its work with surf therapy charity the Wave Project. The award was picked up by Croyde lad Storm Wall.
Also nominated for an award were Oli and Dan Lewis, Barnstaple twins who got a taste for surfing and its therapeutic affects through the Wave Project and have since blossomed.
UK Pro Surf Tour champions
Open: Luke Dillion.
Women: Peony Knight.
Wavebreaker Series: Jayce Robinson.
U18 – girls: Peony Knight; boys: Harry De Roth.
U16 – girls: Ruby Beadon; boys: Liam Murray-Strout.
U14 – boys: Will Masterman and Barnaby Cox; girls: Tegan Blackford.