Pro Diaries: Interview with Aaron Jennings from Surfers Against Sewage (SAS)

Aaron Jennings, Brighton SAS representative, recently took part in setting the UK record for beach cleaning in Brighton and is jumping with us this weekend! We caught up with him to find out more…


Have you ever done a bungee before, and are you nervous?

Yes and yes! I did about a dozen jumps when I was 18 and 19 (a whopping 15 years ago) but haven’t jumped since. Back in my heyday I did one in a straight jacket, learnt to do somesaults, backflips and did a night jump into a black void. Not having done one for so long I’m feeling pretty nervous, yes.

What is the craziest extreme activity you have ever done?

There’s a whole list from back in my 20’s. Including some of my previous bungee jumps, paddling out in murky Fijian surf after just spotting a tiger shark pop up in the line-up and some stupid skateboard stunts which have left a fair few scars. These days I just surf and skate bowls, nothing too extreme.

Explain a bit about your role as an SAS ambassador…

SAS is a national organisation protecting oceans, waves, surfers and beaches all around the UK. The SAS team are based in Cornwall and need to know what’s going on around the UK. I’m 1 of 30 reps around the UK who feedback the concerns from the local water users. I’m also tasked with explaining to the Brighton/south coast water sports communities about the SAS campaigns that are helping our beaches and how we can all get involved.

Do you think Brighton is improving as a result?

There are some significant improvements, but there are many more new threats impacting our coast. I think we are better at recognising the value of the beach and accept how the fragile an environment the coast is. A great example of this is the proposed developments at the Marina that could have destroyed one of Brighton’s best wave. The surfing community was successful in ensuring the social and economic value of waves was understood and the development was turned down, for now.

…and Britain as a whole?

SAS’s campaigns have helped beaches all over the UK and without SAS standing up for surfers and waveriders our coast would be a lot worse off. However, with every new tide there are more threats that expose themselves and more issues for SAS to work on. 22 years ago it was all about sewage. Now SAS campaign on marine litter, protecting waves, climate change, toxic chemicals and although we’ve achieved a lot with the sewage campaigns, we are now tackling a new threat from sewage, the Combined Sewer Overflow (CSO)!

Which site(s) do you feel SAS have had the biggest impact upon?

Any of the 200 beaches included in the ground breaking Sewage Alert Service. At these beaches SAS informs you for free and in real time, when a CSO discharges raw sewage into the sea. There are over 30,000 CSOs around the UK and we have plenty of CSOs around Brighton. It’s good to know before you go!

Which site(s) do you feel need most attention in the UK?

Brighton could always do better. We are a huge coastal community and our sewage goes into the sea without the best levels of treatment (and after heavy rain, it’s even discharged raw!)

What is next to raise the profile of SAS?

There’s an exciting, ambitious and important Protect Our Waves campaign that will galvanise the surfing and water sports community about to go live in August. Check out www.sas.org.uk for more details and to support the movement.

Aaron Jennings will be jumping with the lucky competition winner from the beach clean up, this Saturday at the Brighton Marina. We still have a few spaces left so grab them before it’s too late! To Book a Brighton bungee jump just click the link!

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