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Barrel On The Dordogne Courtesy Fabrice Colas And Phillipe Garrigues Courtesy Dave James
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Severn Surfing History

Surfers have been riding the Severn bore with conventional equipment for over 45 years now, four times longer than any other river. The heritage of the sport is now steeped in history, and a complete account would make for an absorbing (and long) book! At the turn of the new millenium we hope to compile as much from Severn surfing's past as available and to preserve it for future generations of bore surfers...

Do you have any interesting bore stories to add to this chronological compilation? If so please contact us to add them to the records.

Then & Now
PJ Surfing The Bore Back In Early '80's, Courtesy Pete Jones PJ With His Big Ol Board Outside The Surf Shop In Gennith, Courtesy Donny Wright Legendary 'gennith surfer, and former distance record holder, PJ, riding the bore in the '80's and at home today with his treasured board. PJ set a record of 2.6 miles with Stuart Matthews at the turn of the 80's.
Here is the story so far...Accompanying news articles, along with many photos from the 80's and 90's can be seen in the Archive Files.

21st July
Severn Bore ridden for first time on a modern surfboard by Colonel Churchill.
(Source: The Citizen, 22nd July 1955)
21st Sept
Travelling Australian lifeguards surf bore at Stonebench for half a mile against police warning.
(Source: County Gazette, 22nd September 1962)
6th Oct
Rod Sumpter surfs an unofficial 6 miles from Broadoak to Longney on a five foot wave, setting the unofficial mark to beat in the Guiness Book of Records throughout the 70's.
(Source: The Citizen, 7th October 1967)
4th May
The Inaugural Canoe Club bore race of 10 miles from Newnham to the Bird-In-Hand Pub (now Severn Bore Pub)
(Source: The Citizen, 3rd May 1969)
18th Sept
Drive magazine's expedition sees Colin Prior and Charles Williams, with Ozzies Neil Reading and John Ryland, surf 2 miles - the first acknowledged official record for distance surfing in the Guiness Book.
(Source: The Guiness Book of Records, 1971)
Mick Evans rides a canoe for an unofficial 4 miles (6.4km) from Rea To Maisemore Weir, becoming the first person to negotiate Over bridges.
(Source: The Guiness Book Of Records, 1973)
15th June
Gennith Guru, Pete Jones, with Stuart Matthews, Chris Fairburn and six others bid for the distance surfing record but fail to beat the two mile record.
(Source: The Citizen, 17th June 1976)
The American surf film Playgrounds in Paradise is released featuring former British Champion Bruce Palmer surfing the Severn Bore at Rea.
(Source: Playgrounds Of Paradise, 1978)
15th April
Stuart Matthews and Pete Jones finally set a new official BSA record of 2.6 miles (4.16km), with prone surfing allowed. This becomes the new mark to beat.
(Source: Guiness Book Of Records, 1982)
23rd May
Following a TV documentary, a cold winter of training and the invention of the retractable fin, Colin Wilson finally beats the record with 2.94 miles (4.70km).
(Source: The Guiness Book Of Records, 1987)
26th Oct
Nick Hart sets a new official BSA distance surfing record for standing only of 0.8 miles (1.28km), from Lower Rea to Hempsted.
(Source: The Guiness Book Of Records, 1987)
27th Sept
Rea local, Dave Lawson, steps on the scene and smashes the BSA record for standing only with 2.5 miles (4.0km) from Lower Rea to Lower Parting.
(Source: Surf Magazine, #45)
Stuart Matthews joined by Andy Bell, and Severn boatman, Fred Larkham, attempt to take on the mighty Qiantang. Stuart surfs for 11 seconds on a 12 to 15 foot wall of foam, before the crew are rapidly engulfed and the boat capsizes!
(Source: TV Documentary 'The Jaws Of The Dragon')
Another local, Steve King becomes the first person to surf through Over Bridge only acheived by canoeists. This allowed for another mile of continuous surfing.
Dave Lawson appears on the TV show, Record Breakers, and adds another 0.1 mile (0.16km) to his distance record.
3rd Aug
Steve King smashes both the BSA distance surfing records with a continuous standing ride of 5.54 miles (8.86km) from Weir Green To Maisemore.
(Source: The Citizen, 5th August 1996)
29th Aug
On the next tides, Dave Lawson wins back his record with a distance of 5.7 miles (9.12km) from Windmill Hill to Maisemore Weir.
(Source: The Guiness Book of Records, 1997)
Steve King unofficially breaks the six mile mark with a distance of 6.1 miles (9.76km), recorded using a GPS system.
Locals Tomo and Donny Wright and Matt Hammersley found the new Club to bring together the local bore surfers and a regular crowd is seen on the river.
TV presenter, Lyndsey Cannon, joins the Bore Riders for an attempt to surf the wave at Over Bridge, for the BBC2 series Country Tracks.
Following controversial circumstances over the record, and a new format, the Guiness Book of Records removes all references to distance surfing records.
(Source: The Guiness Book of Records, 1999-2001)
31 Aug
Tomo Wright sets a new BRC record in the estuary, becoming the first person to surf without boat backup past Garden Cliff, and clocking approximately 2.8 miles (4.5 km) - on two consecutive tides.
The release of the first British filmed longboard flick, UK2K, sees a special dedication to the bore riders, and an exclusive feature with Steve King filmed from his boat.
(Source: A New Wave Rising - Longboading UK2K, 2001)
July 9th
The first international meeting of the BRC, as the Severn Surfers meet Mascaret pioneer, Phillipe Garrigues, in Bristol, to prepare for an expedition in Sept.
Steve King, Liam Parnell and Tomo Wright become the first acknowledged Brits to surf both the Dordogne and Garonne rivers. Steve performs the first headstand ever seen at St Pardon to a large rapturous crowd.
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