Balearic surfing champion James Oxenham is not your stereotypical beach bum. The 28-year-old Cornwall native, currently working for a tour operator on the island, does not have long flowing golden hair and a bronzed tan from head to toe, nor does he use words like dude with a long drawn out accent. In fact, apart from his six foot athletic frame, he looks nothing like the classic surfer of Hollywood movies. But you don't need sun–bleached girl's hair and a vocabulary of a Californian teenager to be a good surfer, as James proved recently when he fought off a local challenge to be crowned Balearic Champion. It was only with the help of the Majorca weather and a lack of waves, though, that James made the championships in the first place. “It was the first official championships that they've held here,” James explains to me without using dude at the end of the sentence. “They had a four day period when they say it's going to be held because they can't tell exactly when the waves will come. “I was lucky because on the Thursday and the Friday I was working, but the waves didn't appear so they held it on the Saturday and Sunday when I was able to make it. “The waves were a bit small that weekend but it was a good competition. There was one guy who had been living in Puerto Rico so he was quite handy, and one Dutch guy, but all the rest were Spanish or Mallorquin. I'm not sure how they felt about an Englishman winning their championship, but they were all really friendly and they had a presentation and gave me a new surf board for winning. I had to say a few words and I've seen a few of them in the sea since.” James is talking to someone whose extent of surfing knowledge is a Beach Boys' song and the movie Point Break. I ask him what a surfing competition entails. “All the surfers get drawn into different rounds and there are four people in each round. They then have thirty minutes in the water depending on the conditions. You normally get ten waves and then they judge you on your best four and give you marks, but because the waves were small the weekend of the championships they let us use as many waves as we could get in thirty minutes and they took the best four from those. It worked out well because it meant we didn't have to worry about taking too many waves.” And the judging? “They judge it sort of like ice skating, so it's done on style, the manoeuvres you do and the size of the wave you take and whether or not you fall off. So it's a combination of factors. If you throw up lots of spray and make a good manoeuvre then you're going to get good marks.” Wait a minute, throw up lots of spray, that's a good thing? “Yes, it's when you turn the board and it's nice and clean, and the rail sets in and there's a nice spray turning off the top of the wave, it's good,” tells James, totally losing me with a load of surfing jargon. “The highest scoring thing is to get a tube, when you get inside the wave and come out the other side, but there weren't any tubes to be had on the day of the championships.”


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