A surf war has broken out on David Cameron’s favourite beach – after a local was nearly SCALPED when he was hit by a tourist’s runaway board.
Cafe boss Steve Pratt, 48, was left with horrific wounds when a holidaymaker bailed out of a giant wave – sending his board skidding across the sea ‘like a missile’.
The nose crashed into the side of Mr Pratt’s head leaving him with blood streaming from a nasty six-inch gash that required hospital treatment.
Worried locals say an influx of tourists trying surfing for the first time at Cornwall’s Polzeath Beach is causing a safety hazard.
They want visitors such as PM David Cameron, who last year was pictured topless at the popular holiday spot, to undergo safety training before they hit the waves – to learn the equivalent of surfing’s Highway Code.
The Prime Minister regularly holidays there with his family – and has previously said he loves the beach and local beer.
Mr Pratt, a dad-of-two who runs a Mr Surfy catering trailer at New Polzeath, said: “There’s a saying that if you don’t surf in January, don’t try to surf in July.
“This guy just bailed before getting his wave. I don’t know why – he might have thought the wave was too big.
“But by just jumping off his board the way he did, he sent it flying straight at me.
“I had no chance to get out of the way – he was only feet away – and it cracked me right on the top of my head.
“It was unbelievably painful and when I put my hand up to feel the damage, I could see straight away that I was covered in blood.
“There’s a basic rule, or code, that every surfer learns – you must try to keep control of your board. If he’d just held on to his board he’d have been OK and so would I.
“Instead I ended up in A&E having to have my head glued back together.
“Actually it could have been worse – it might have caught me in the eye, or I could have lost some teeth.
“Fast-moving surfboards can pack quite a wallop. It’s almost scalped me.”
The RNLI, whose lifeguards patrol many of Cornwall’s beaches, encourages visitors to undertake proper training before attempting surfing for the first time.
Its website says: “To maximise your enjoyment and keep yourself and others safe when riding waves it’s important to understand surf etiquette.
“If you are unsure, ask a lifeguard to explain.”
Mr Pratt says the surfer who injured him didn’t apologise or stop to see if he was badly hurt.
He said: “I’m 99 per cent sure that the guy was a holidaymaker who didn’t know what he was doing.
“I know all of the locals. This guy didn’t even check to see if I was OK.
“I shouted at him and said ‘you’ve just whacked me’ and put my hand up to show him the blood. I caught the next wave in and was expecting him to follow to at least see how I was but he didn’t.
“It’s a bit like hitting someone with a car – you have a responsibility to stop and see if the other person is OK.
“There are lots of ways to injure yourself while surfing but it’s particularly galling when you injure somebody else.
“It’s more likely to happen when the sea is crowded and, at this time of year, the beach at Polzeath is pretty busy.
“It’s really important that people get themselves some basic training instead of just picking up the first board they see and rushing into the sea.”
Mr Pratt’s opinions were echoed by Andy Cameron, who runs the Wavehunters surf school on Polzeath Beach.
Mr Cameron said: “It’s very important to learn the correct surfing etiquette. It’s like a Highway Code.
“Surfing is fantastic fun and nobody wants to take away the fun element, but getting a serious injury is no fun at all.
“This accident wasn’t the first and it won’t be the last. It’s important that people have equipment which is appropriate to their level of skill and experience.
“There are lots of ways to learn – it can be just with a friend who’s got experience, it doesn’t have to be with a surf school like ours.
“But it’s really not clever to grab hold of a board, rush straight into the ocean and treat it like a playground. That’s just asking for trouble.”