Newquay is one of the most popular surfing destinations in the UK, if not the most popular. It is also home to Fistral Beach which is home to the annual Boardmasters competition, one of the biggest in the UK. The area has long attracted tourists in search of a bit of sun, sand and sea and over the last few years it has become a major hotspot for surfers. The Boardmasters event is like a big festival now and it certainly embraces the commercialisation of surfing in a big way. It has grown from being a surfing event to encompass the skate scene and also live music. The site is packed with corporate stalls flogging merchandise, there are big half-pipes set up for the BMX and skating competitions and there are three stages for live music. The event attracts well over 200,000 people and since the surf isn’t entirely predictable it is perhaps just as well that there are plenty of other things for them to do. The surf competition attracts some of the best surfers in the world and when you have a look at the potential prize money it is no surprise that people come from all over to take part. The Men’s World Qualifying Series event gets top billing and the prize pot is $100,000 and last year an 18 year old surfer from Brazil won. There is also an aerial event where surfers are towed by jet skis so they can build up enough speed to catch some serious air and pull off some crowd pleasing manoeuvres. There are also pro skate and BMX competitions although the prize money is a lot lower ($30,000). The event is rounded off with a host of surf related companies peddling their wares and a host of bars, night clubs, stages with live music and even a funfair. A lot of people just turn up for the music festival and the Friday night is being headlined by The Streets. There will be plenty of budding surfers there as well and the British Surfing Association actually own and operate a school on Fistral beach which has a great reputation. No doubt many people will be inspired by the talent on display and the stalls are sure to shift a number of surfboards and wetsuits before the event is over. The Relentless Boardmasters event for 2009 runs from the 5th to the 9th of August and if you want a ticket for full access you’ll have to stump up £89 plus booking fee. Surfing is seriously big business and the event is sure to turn over an obscene amount of cash. Sadly the women’s surfing event doesn’t even rate a mention on the official website but the Bikini Babe competition does. Considering there will be lots of talented female surfers there it seems like a pretty misogynistic omission. I guess the target audience is male. As usual if the waves are good then there will be some great action to behold, if not then there’s a big beer tent and plenty of distractions. You can check out the official website here.