Trawsfynynnd Round Robin, Nothern Wales UK, 11 October 2001

Reported by Pete Love M. Phys. D. Phil (Oxon) MInstP

(Photo Credit at bottom)

The burgeoning British buttboard bonanza bounced ebulliently into being at this meeting, with the first all-British competition. The race was organised by Chris Beard, with regional luge racing on the Saturday and buttboard racing on sunday. North Wales is a great part of the UK, only having this disadvatage that its a long way from London (prize goes to the author who took 61/2 hours to drive from London to Traws, narrowly beating Pete Eliot who cheated by managing to drive through Welshpool 5 times). The weather was predicted to be torrential rain all weekend, but God loves buttboarders and we got away with only a few sporadic showers.

This varied the conditions enough to make the racing interesting, with a few offs in store for those who misjudged the road condition. Unusual hazards were present in the form of several large (but fortunately docile) bullsgrazing at the roadside. The marshals periodically imitated matadors to try and avoid any Dead Bull sponsorship. Riders had to take their chances with the sheep.

The Traws road is fast, with one hard righthander at the start, followed by a long sweeping left with a blind hard dive right (and pray for no sheep!) into the final straight. Top speeds were around 55, with the narrow track and wet conditions giving everyone more than enough excitement.

The race format for buttboard (and luge) was dual round robin: everyone races everyone. This format needs no timing system and is perfect for small (less than 20 riders) races. The race organisation is informal, with riders picking out their pairings themselves, saving their closest heats until last. Pete Eliot and the author advanced unbeaten through the field, making their heat the final. To keep the purist's moral highground, Jeremy Gilder was riding a sector 9 deck about the same size as one of his shoes, and so sank down the rankings as he fought with his deck.

Jerry salvaged some honour by beating Chalky Thomas, also riding a regular skateboard. Hot newcomers were Ben Slaughter and Mark Warrender, making sure that no race was a walkover and the sound of bearings full of sheepshit was never far behind. The Eliot-Love final was a bitter death match, with not a single sole applied to the still wet road. The authors aerodynamic feet carried the day, and then it was time for some serious fun.

Chalky Thomas, on exiting the track througha pile of sheepshit into a puddle.

Gilder tricked everyone with his "low tech approach" and then blinded them with his James Bond "anti-pursuit" device. -ed

Having settled a final order, it was time for some mass racing action. First off was a Grand prix: all 8 riders on the course, champions at the back, newbies at the front. A real test of mettle, as to win the champion must pass everyone. Eliot and Love went from 7th and 8th to 1st and 2nd through the first right hander, both making 6 passes in 4 metres. The first turn nearly claimed Chalky Thomas, but some manful board wrestling pulled him back on course. With Eliot in the lead holding an 8 foot headstart, Love had to try to pull something in the hard fast right, or settle for second. With red mist pouring out of both ears, the pass failed by six inches, parting company with his Lott Classic, Love passes Eliot off the road, in the air, down the hillside, on his arse.

The next maniacal debacle was a Le Mans style start. Riders line up in reverse order again, buttboards on one side of the road, riders on the other. The flag goes down, run for your board and go. Those who avoided the pitfall of picking up their board and running down the hill carrying it were at a clear advantage, and this time the newbies held their own, with Chalky Thomas holding off Pete Love in a neck and neck race to the finish. With darkness falling and the clouds louring, the riders headed for the pub to cure sore necks with Welsh beer.

Buttboard Round Robin
1st - Pete Love
2nd - Pete Eliot
3rd - Ben Slaughter
4th - Mark Warrender
5th - Jeremy Gilder
6th - Chalky Thomas

All photos clipped (and then doctored) from Quicktime Movies taken by Todd O'Neill of

Click the link to the right to download a 5.6 meg Quicktime movie. Todd attempts a Buttboard run on the fast wet track. Pay attention to the well suited lyrics. HYSTERICAL!

Darren Lott ©2001