Professional surfer from Croyde calls for more diversity in the sport after making history

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The UK's first black competitive surfer has called for more to be done to help diversity in his sport.

Siyanda Hewitt lives in Croyde and trains across the southwest including at the Wave near Bristol, which opened three years ago.

But despite travelling and competing professionally, the 15-year-old said he rarely sees people like him on the water in the region.

"I think worldwide there's a lot of diversity in surfing, but in the UK, especially in competitive surfing, I rarely ever see other black surfers," he said.

Siyanda's love of surfing has come from his father, who encouraged him to take to the water from a young age.

"Since, like, the day I was born, my dad's always just been like 'yeah, let's surf, let's surf'", he said.

"I'd walk along the pier with my dad on the big days, watching everyone surf and I was like, having so much froth seeing everyone doing big tricks and doing big airs... I think that's when I thought 'yeah, this is what I want to do'", he added.

He was surprised by the lack of diversity in surfing when he moved to Devon from South Africa Credit: Sisonke Ndum-Ndum

The teenager spent much of his childhood growing up in South Africa but was surprised by the lack of diversity in the sport when he moved to Devon.

Now he's hoping his own position may inspire others to take up the sport in the southwest.

He said: "When I was in South Africa, I was always watching the top black surfers, because they all live in South Africa. That really encouraged me to surf and I think hopefully I can be able to do the same thing here.

"What I'm trying to do is encourage other black surfers to see there's other black surfers like them surfing, and then try it," he added.

Nick Hounsfield, founder of The Wave, said he is really proud of Siyanda: "Surfing absolutely should be for everyone and then it's about trying to breakdown those barriers of access.

"Siyanda is a great ambassador for us because he lives and breathes being a black surfer.

"I've always said, if this becomes a middle class playground for white people, we will have failed. So it's great to see we're really changing the narrative for people here."