It has not been a good sporting weekend for England. Along with the Rugby World Cup thrashing at the hands of the Wallabies came news that the entire English surfing team had been left without its surfboards at a major European competition – because British Airways forgot to load the boards onto a flight.
On the Rugby field, the 33-13 defeat is the first time any host nation has been knocked out of the Rugby World Cup tournament before the quarter-finals.
On the surfing front, England’s professional surfing team (it exists) reached the Euro Surf competition at Casablanca in Morocco, only to learn that vital boards and kit were still sitting 2400 kilometres away back at Heathrow Airport.
As a result, the team missed two days of practice, the North Devon Journal reported.
The paper quoted English surf team manager Jessica Tuckman blaming the blunder for the team’s disappointing ninth place finish out of 13 teams – below expectations.
“I believe BA has cost us dearly,” Tuckman told the paper.
“The entire team missed out on two days of training on the wave they had to compete on. This potentially had disastrous consequences.
“If they had been able to train, like any athlete would do for a competitive event, surely they would have had better results.”
The team says that when its members, three men and three women, checked in at London Heathrow, they were told the luggage conveyor belt wasn’t working and to put their expensive surfboards in a cage instead.
The team stressed how vital the surfboards were, but then, halfway through the flight to Madrid, cabin crew told them that their boards had been left behind.
As a result, after landing in Morocco, other national surf teams caught up on vital practice while the English team was forced to watch from the beach.
In the end Spain took top honours in the men’s section of the event, while a French contender won the women’s title.
Written by Peter Needham