The decision to bring back the website got me looking through the archives. I was amazed to find it is over 20 years since it first appeared as a Moonfruit site, moving to the current platform in 2001.
It was surprisingly 5 years in before I invested in a digital camera, a Canon 300D, so in the early days photos were taken on film and slide, and then developed, before being placed on a flatbed scanner, edited, and then saved onto floppy discs and uploaded to the website.
Back then with dial up Internet and slow download speeds, photos had to be compressed to a very small file size in order for the pictures to even load on the web pages. Pictures were resized to only 350 pixels wide, on a screen resolution of 1024 x 768. To put that into perspective, each photo I shoot today is 5184 x 3456 pixels. Each floppy disc would hold between 10 and 20 small images. Today I would not even get a single edited JPG photo on one of the old floppy discs, let alone a RAW image, which is what I shoot with today.
In the early 2000s I bought books on web coding and redesigned the website developing it from an ‘out of the box’ website to painstakingly designing new looks using purely HTML code in a text editor; later enhanced with CSS styles and some java-script, things which made editing quicker. The website, which was primarily made up of small pictures from Jersey and ‘readers waves’ sent in from other countries too, developed a steady following.
The website certainly gave a boost to the local bodyboard scene by bringing together a solid crew of bodyboarders, who eventually decided to form a club in 2004, the Jersey Bodyboarders.
There is no doubt about it, the years after the Jersey Bodyboarders were formed through to the late 2000s when social media really started to gather momentum, were hey day for the website, with a popular Guestbook being used for daily chat on surf conditions and the hit counter passing the 250,000 page views mark.
The local bodyboard scene, bolstered by a few overseas riders from South AFrica and New Zealand making their home in Jersey, thrived for a while with Jersey Bodyboarders members winning 6 British National Championships titles; pretty impressive for an island only 9 miles by 5. The winners were Dan Garton (U14), David Speller (U18 twice), Aiden Dixon (International Division), Peter Bolam (Masters) and Simon Watkins (Masters).
When Facebook came along, all too soon browsing habits changed. With people posting their own content and more advanced chat options than the old Guestbook, daily page hits took a dive.
In addition the local scene faded; not sure why, but I feel the loss of surf shops on the island selling quality equipment, the club perhaps going ‘too cool’ with events not really suited to attracting new-comers, and certainly a number of the original crew upping sticks and leaving the island to make new homes around the world, certainly had an impact. In the end when my web hosting renewal fees were due in late 2018, I decided with heavy heart it was time to let it slip; an end of an era.
So why come back now? I think there is a little tiredness with social media; nobody wants to see 100 photo galleries any more, and video clips are ten a penny. In addition, I am on a personal mission to work at my writing, having embarked on a series of writing courses. A key part of developing my writing is to keep writing regularly. Finally, I discovered by chance that I still owned the domain name. Considering all of these points, I have decided to give it another go with a fresh more blog style look and feel.
I can also see that over in the UK, the English and Welsh are both successfully building new scenes, driven by some of the older crew, and I feel we here in Jersey are in danger of being left behind. Hopefully, with the help of this website, I can contribute towards promoting the bodyboarding and with that contribute towards re-building the local scene.
I hope you enjoy it and here’s to the next 20 years.