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About Roger Mansfield
Roger was born in 1952 on the cliff-tops above Newquay Bay in Cornwall.
He has lived there most of his life, with the exception of intermittent
years globe trotting on surf quests in the 70's and early 80's.
Growing up as a child in Newquay, with Great Western beach as his playing
place, he was destined to become caught up with the emergence of a whole
new ocean sport, surfboard riding, off the beaches of his home town.
wanted to become a surfer. It was his highest life ambition, mediated
only by placating his parents by promising to keep his head down at school.
He soon had his own surfboard and with it, bona fide membership into a
growing clan of wave riding beach dwellers, who were with hindsight, many
of the most critical individuals responsible for shaping the existence
and identity of the 'Sport of Surfing' in the Britain of the future.
As the first surfing contests were developed, Roger entered them. He
became the British Junior Champion three years in succession and by 1970,
at eighteen he won the Open British Title to become British Champion.
There were no obvious career opportunities in this embryonic sport at
this time so Roger went off to university in south Wales (because that's
where the waves were closest to college). By 1974, Roger had discovered
the best surf of the Glamorgan coast, the warmth and frivolity of the
ever expanding Welsh surfing tribe and the flavour of Brains beer. He
also gained himself a degree in Psychology and the new British Universities
Surfing Champion title within a single year.
A decade of surf travel globally, interspersed with occasional working
seasons in Newquay saw Roger mature both as a surfer and as a man. By
the mid-Eighties he was back resident in Newquay as a husband, father
and school teacher, but still surfing every moment he could pinch.
the 1980s Roger swapped the classroom for the beach and started to teach
people how to surf for a living. No one had ever done this properly before
in mainland Britain - people had simply taught themselves, or got help
from surfing friends, if they had them. This original commercial creation,
modeled the start of the Surf School industry which has now blossomed
nationwide as the social entry point of the modern individual to the sport.
Roger taught surfing for the next ten years before selling the successful
Offshore Surfing School in 1994. As the surf industry grew with the increasing
popularity of surfing through the 80's and into the 90's, so did the social
and working opportunities for all surfers. Roger occupied himself writing
articles for various British surfing publications and during this period
he also judged and directed surfing contests; pioneered the renaissance
of longboard surfing; commentated for the World Surfing Contest at Fistral
Beach in 1986; won the British Masters in 1990 and the English Longboard
title in 1992; entered a partnership in the Newquay Surfboard Company;
pushed the environmental argument about pollution in recreational waters
towards Government by his active involvement as a founder member of Surfers
Against Sewage; wrote the public representation document to launch the
idea of a multi-million pound artificial surfing reef off Newquay Bay;
and basically just tried to keep surfing between the milestones of a coastal
life in Cornwall!
the Millennium he realised it had all added up to more than forty years
playing in the waves. Rarely anymore, did he meet anyone who had been
surfing longer than himself when he paddled out for a surf. His original
surfing peer group, of which he had been easily the youngest, had grown
older, died or simply chosen different directions in life.
The surfing world had grown to become millions of people worldwide. Many
tens of thousands of them in Britain. The powerful advertising campaigns
of Surf Fashion companies were selling heroes of the moment and the sport
was becoming more mainstream.
In 2004, Roger was asked by a consortium of museums, to tell the story
of British Surfing. The 'Surfs Up Exhibition' told the history of
surfing in Britain and had a well attended two year tour of museums in southern Britain. Roger has now published a book defining the history of British surfing - The Surfing Tribe.
Roger and his three children all surf; his youngest son competitively.
There is a sense of personal family history repeating itself - but the
window on surfing culture now is very different from the one he had looked
through as a child.