As surfing becomes Olympic sport for first time talented nine-year-old surfer takes to the waves at Cayton Bay

HE WAS only two when his dad put him on a foamboard.

Jensen was first put on a foamboard aged two by his dad Pics: Richard Ponter
Jensen was first put on a foamboard aged two by his dad Pics: Richard Ponter

Now nine, Jensen Martin can ride a wave with ease – and his teacher reckons he has the potential to go far.

Jensen is among a group of youngsters taking part in surf development classes run by Tori Gower, head coach and manager at Scarborough Surf School and hire centre, who was inspired to look at developing local talent after surfing became an Olympic sport.

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All Jensen’s family are surfers – mum Heidi, dad Rory while Jensen’s younger brother Tanner, six, has had his first year surfing.

Jensen and Tori Gower, head coach and manager at Scarborough Surf School and hire centre

The family were living in Cannock Chase in Staffordshire until March when they decided to follow their dream and take to the road in their camper van.

Since then they have been touring the country chasing surf breaks. When The Yorkshire Post caught up with them, they had just returned to Cayton Bay after a trip to Cornwall to surf there.

Mr Martin said: “We’d been coming here on and off for about 10 years. Heidi’s grandfather was from Hull and we came up holidaying.

“The quality of the waves are really good and there’s a very small tight community here and everybody helps each other out.

The Jensen family - dad Rory, mum Heidi and Jensen, 9

“Especially for beginners it is almost the perfect place. The kids absolutely love it – it just gives them life experience – and we home school every day.”

Mrs Martin said Jensen had been a confident surfer from the start and although he’d experienced mental blocks and got scared for a while, he’d got over it and “come back better than before”.

Living in the camper van came naturally as they’d spent so many times in one over the years – a minor difficulty being things like drying towels when it was wet outside. She said: “We are a pretty close family and the kids have always done things with us. I don’t think we would do it permanently, but for now it’s fun.”

Surfing is about to become an Olympic sport for the first time later this month with the start of the Tokyo Olympics. The Great Britain squad failed to qualify at the El Salvador ISA World Surfing Games. But they did come in 14th – higher than the USA.

Ms Gower said: “We’ve started to push the juniors since it became an Olympic sport and we are creating a junior squad. We will do the youth development sessions a few times a year to get them into competitive surfing and we will run local competitions – there’s not really anything at the moment. The idea eventually is that we can enter them into competitions all over the country.”

Out surfing in April, she spotted Jensen’s “natural talent” and invited him to come on the course. Jensen being a skateboarder as well helps as it’s the same stance and the turns are the same, she says.

“When he first came onto the Super Groms (slang for a junior surfer) you could tell he had something special. A lot of it is that he is getting in all the time with his mum and dad. They are hard core – they go in all year round.”

Although not as well known as Cornwall, there are quite a few places to surf in Yorkshire. Cayton Bay is one of the best known and can be surfed through all stages of the tide.

Possibilities include Barmston, where an eroded road has created a “point break”, making a well-formed wave. Withernsea with the right wind can have a really “peaky” wave. Beware longshore drift however – otherwise you could get dragged down to Spurn Point.