THE WAVES of Westward Ho! have been the home practice and training ground for four of the England Surf Kayak team which returned from Portugal as world champions. The 10-day world championships were hosted by the town of Santa Cruz as part of a celebratio

THE WAVES of Westward Ho! have been the home practice and training ground for four of the England Surf Kayak team which returned from Portugal as world champions.

The 10-day world championships were hosted by the town of Santa Cruz as part of a celebration of beach sports and wave riding. The Ocean Spirit festival also included world championships in kitesurfing and skimboarding and Portuguese national titles in surfing, longboards and waveski.

For the surf kayaking event each national team put forward four men, two women, one junior and one master (over 40) in both short and long boats.

Four of the 16-strong England team are based at Skern Lodge activity and training centre in Appledore.

Bideford College student Aidan Brackenbury was the youngest team member and joined his father Glyn, Skern chief instructor, for the first time in the team. Summer instructors Robyn Pearcey and Philip Watson played their part and John Watson, manager at Skern Lodge, guided them towards England's first world championship win since 1999.

Skern Lodge has been used as a meeting and coaching venue for the national team during the past two years' preparation. Local firms REED Chillcheater and Saltrock from Braunton provided surfing and beach kit for the team, with help from Mega Surfkayaks and In Stitches from Littleham.

The next world championships are at Outer Banks, North Carolina, in 2011. North Devon beaches will again be the centre of preparing the England team to retain the title.