The British Kitesurfing Championships 2017
“the chance to finally land one of those long lived dreams of making the podium”
Having only ever competed in Round 1 Lancing a couple of years back which left me far from any podium position, entering the 2017 British Kitesurfing Championships was a rather quick and last minute decision. Having not long returned from a small season away Thailand, I felt as though it was something I had the chance to finally land one of those long lived dreams of making the podium, even if it was to be the Mens Amateurs. So I thought hell with it, lets go for it.
ROUND ONE- Westward HO!
“I had to borrow a 9m Liquid Force NV from Craig Smith (Liquid Force UK) to save my ass for being dragged across the beach”
17m Ozone Zephyr and a 12m Enduro pumped up ready to go which where both way too big for this kind of wind. With the first heat coming up and nothing smaller packed to save my situation, I had to borrow a 9m Liquid Force NV from Craig Smith (Liquid Force UK) to save my ass for being dragged across the beach.
The build up to the first round after having signed up was pretty big, with no idea of the level of riding I was going up against I could only keep my eyes on the forecast in hope that the wind would be in our favour. A few days before the competition up until the day it wasn’t. In fact the wind was forecast to be so bad I was debating as to whether to actually make the journey to Westward Ho. Fortunately a more hopeful mind prevailed and the light wind quiver was chucked in the van ready to go!
STOKED. The result of my first heat left me with more than enough confidence to send it through the finals. Although it didn’t quite work out that way, and I spent most of my time crashing pretty hard which inevitably landed me back down to third for the first round of the British Kitesurfing Championships. But hey, I still made the podium!
Having finished all of my heats it was time for the pro’s! Seeing Tom Bridge, previous British Champion George Dufty and Seun Murphy battle it out on the water was well worth the brisk jog back to get the camera! I think the photos speak for themselves in this case…
ROUND TWO- Hayling Island, Virgin Kitesurfing Armada
“seing my kite being scrunched like a piece of paper in the waves in the brief few seconds my head was above the water, I got to meet Nick Jacobson”
Now was to be the most highly anticipated event in my calendar this summer; a weekend of wind, music, friends and the second round of the championships! With special guest appearances such as Nick Jacobson (that crazy, crazy guy who recently jumped off that big ass hotel in Dubai), five times world champion Aaron Hadlow, five times female world champion Gisela Pulido and the man who dared to jump Brighton pier; Lewis Crathern. It was gonna be big.
Arriving the night before to take my pick of camping spots in the car park and to meet some old friends who had travelled down for the weekend to get involved in the kitesurfing scene, we woke up early the next day to be met with hundreds of campers and tents that had completely taken over the space around us.
With the festival already in full swing with brands and reps setting up stalls and pumping kites, the riders meeting in the morning gave the amateurs plenty of time to enjoy the festival until we where up. For anyone who don’t know about the Virgin Kitesurf Armada, it’s well worth a look to acquaint yourself with all the UK industry leaders and community while they showcase all the latest kite tech and equipment. 2017 saw live music, competitions, pro riders, giveaways, charity fundraisers, world record attempts (both of which is what the festival is initially about), industry talks and loads more, not forgetting round two of the BKC!
With a lot of walking up and down the beach and waiting for the right conditions, it wasn’t until later in the afternoon that we had enough wind to get out and ride in the first heat which as a result, no one made it into due to a rather large tangle amongst the 50 or so competitor kites being parked in the small area of beach having been pushed in from the high tide. Even after the heat was re-run, it was unfortunate to say that in combination with the on-shore wind and 5 or so foot shore break (some of the biggest that Hayling has seen) that the heat was black flagged and shut down.
On the brighter side of things while having been wiped out by the shore break and seing my kite being scrunched like a piece of paper in the waves in the brief few seconds my head was above the water, I got to meet Nick Jacobson after he ditched his board in the waves to recover my kite for me. A real “Yo you’re Nick Jacobson!” fan boy moment for sure.
With the shore break getting to some pretty crazy heights the decision to move the pros forward once some wind came in was made and the mens ams was moved to the next day after a long wait on the beach.
Saturday being the big night of the festival I would like to have thought I would take it easy and have the will power to carry that through to be in a reasonable condition for the next mornings start (which luckily was a little later), but going from how most others turned out that night, it’s safe to say it was an epic night that will be with me in small pieces long time!
A good 25+knots of wind came to our aid later later in the afternoon the next day to cool off the steaming heads from the night before and the heat was on. Landing first in heat one pushed me through to a head to head with Alberto Kavadellas which due to an unforgiving habit of mine i was a minute or two late into! With Albertos better preperation and not to mention slick style on the water in these boosty conditions, I came second and he went through into the finals leading me unfortunately into the looser finals.
A little more prepared than previous I was called up for my final heat of the day and having been pushed down a level I knew I had to regain some ground and earn some points for Round 3 Hunstanton and overall. But maybe going to big to early was a flaw and megalooping a slightly underinflated 10m Ozone Edge towards the start of my round wasn’t the answer to my problems. See for yourself the result of that…
And that was the end of my round…
Having made 4th place, sure enough I was sent home slightly disappointed, although only to be left more determined on the run up to round 3.
ROUND 3- Hunstanton THE FINALS
“Not realising the chunk that was missing from my finger, sitting in the water strapped in to the board and seing my kite barrel role across the water was too close a reenactment of Round two’s looser finals crash…”
It was finally here! THE FINALS! With a long ass journey over to Northolk, the British Kitesurfing Championships was to take place at Hunstanton at the local Yacht club along side the Sun & Sea Festival. Music, kitesurfers, the highly anticipated finals and yet another weekend camping by the ocean was to bring a great time for all and hopefully some medals to be won! Sitting only a mere 60 points away from 3rd over all, I was determined to make the dream of standing on the podium a reality.
With a 10:30 riders meeting, the wind was not looking to be capable of running a competition of any sort but with some luck, just enough came through to see the huge amount of juniors through the biggest kites they have, to the afternoon where multiple black flags where raised due to the wind. By this point the tide was at its lowest having formed a lagoon perfect for unhooked freestyle, but still not much in the way of wind! By roughly 3 o’clock the judges managed to get through the women’s amateurs as a weather front was on the horizon and pushing some wind our way!
Zephyr 17m to the ready and strapped in with some shiny new Ronix Kinetic bindings, it was time for the first heat of the mens ams! The wind all of a sudden picked up and was ploughing through with enough to keep myself and the other competitors in my heat riding on. It was only when the green flag was raised where it became a little too much gust for my Zephyr sending a single S-Bend into a four spin dangle to crash and kite fall out of the sky. Not realising the chunk that was missing from my finger, sitting in the water strapped in to the board and seing my kite barrel role across the water was too close a reenactment of Round two’s looser finals crash… But someone was looking out for me and the kite popped back up once down wind with NO TANGLES! ‘Result, now get back up and land some shit’ I told myself. With the little time I had left I managed to stomp an inverted back role board grab and a bel-air to land myself in second for that heat.
Having missed the red flag signalling the end of the heat, the tide had claimed the majority of the beach in the 6 minutes we where up leaving peoples kites and pumps floating away out to sea and the Judges truck safely retreating to land. We where moving down the road to Heacham.
Arriving at Heacham after the rush from the tide, the spirits where high after my first round although the sudden decline in wind was troubling. With no wind and without anyone else in my category being able to actually ride the first heat would not count towards the final score. With a dark cloud looming upwind from us we held tight in hope of something. The cloud delivered and an easy 15knots + and a hell of a lot of rain which sent all the competitors running back to their cars to retrieve smaller kites! With two heats to go I had enough time to chuck up my crispy new Ozone Enduro 12m. Seeing others out on the water nicely powered was a first for everyone during the round and suddenly everyone had the same idea to get out and riding ready for that green flag.
All systems go! and then it happened again. But thankfully it was more of a gradual thing and I had the time to stop off at the judges truck during my heat to have a moan that the wind wasn’t enough as my competitor was way down wind of the competition zone. Managing to throw in an F16 just before my round was to finish landed me in the finals. But I had only two heats until I was due up and no kite capable of tackling the decline in wind that was pumped up. Time to rush, having sent my mother to run across the beach back to the van to retrieve the Zephyr while I land the 12m quick time, by the time I had seconds to go I was exhausted. With the wind still dropping slowly, there was just enough to get through this last round, could I do it?
Simply no, from the moment I picked up two boards from the shop; both with boots I was doomed and the wind just wasn’t enough for me. Seeing Harry Way and Russel Farrington stopping off at the beach to jump off their board and run back up wind left me way out the competition zone leaving me destined for 3rd place. Finishing the round with whatever I could throw down before the red flag was raised I felt a sense of relief. The British Kitesurfing Championships was over for me. For now…
Shortly after the mens ams the Masters and the Pro Women categories where sent up to compete in the remaining wind. Unfortunately there was not enough wind to make it through the pro men category and it was moved to the next day.
With some well earned rest and more than a few few drinks to follow up at the Sun & Sea Festival, we where rewarded with a lie in. The next mornings wind proved un worthy of any freestyle competition as we whiteness the paddleboarders heading out into the lagoons to enjoy a day in the rain. A real shame but that is unfortunately the frustration of the sport.
Prize giving came with a breach in the clouds, giving us our first proper glimpse of a clear sunny day. Having made it all three rounds it was an incredible feeling to have made 3rd place in the Hunstanton Round 3 and again in the overall result. STOKED.
A massive thank you to ATBShop for providing the never ending support that got me on to that podium!
As a result the British Championships has been an awesome experience to have been apart of this year and I think I speak for the whole team when I say I cant wait for next year! A very well done to all the competitors on those long days on the beach fighting the elements and a very well done to Craig Smith and all the organisers of this years event! You all did an amazing job!
Bring on next year!