National Windsurfing Festival - The Write Up
Wow! What an amazing weekend! It had unfortunately been a couple of years since I had been able to attend NWF, and I had forgotten what a true spectacle of the sport it is.
Seeing so many people out on the water, meeting many old faces and new on the beach, the great trade area sneaking a peak at all the new kit, and of course hanging out with all the Ladies, all combined to make a truly remarkable weekend.
Both inside and out there was equipment on show from all the main brands in the windsurfing industry, there was a real buzz about the place with people finding out all about the new toys and catching up with the guys.
The OTC ( www.otc-windsurf.com ) ran instruction all weekend teaching many locals all about windsurfing and giving them their first taste of the sport, and I am sure we could see some of the guys at the festival again next year.
A highlight for many was the special Team 15 clinic run by PWA hotshot Boujmaa Guilloul, who was aiming to get all the kids out there looping.
Of course a major part of the event is the easy style master blaster racing, perfect for first timers and those that just want to have a laugh on the water with hundreds of other windsurfers. As always the freeride fleet had an incredible number of entrants, with lots of Ladies in the mix. Local Louise Jackson finished 1st Lady and a very respectable 13th overall, with Junior Dani Conroy, Beth Hawdon, Mairead de-Burca, Genevieve Knight, Hannah Maunder, Caroline Leeds-Rugby, Tancy Douglas and Michelle Petit all posting some excellent results. Stand out competitor in the National fleet (for the more serious racers!) was Saskia Sills, who finished both 1st Lady and 1st Junior beating lots of the top men in the process. For the first time at the festival the Turbo 15 competition ran alongside the main fleets, where Rachel Finch held her own against the boys in the over 4m class, and the Goodwin sisters, Emily and Leah, inspired more young girls to get out there in the under 4m class. Congratulations to all the female competitors!
FLOW hosted two sessions for the Ladies which I personally think were a great success! The sessions were all about getting the Ladies together, chatting and learning from each other. In the morning we had introductions and info from myself, Amanda van Santen (RYA chief windsurfing instructor), Marie Buchanan (talented and experienced Tushingham/Starboard racer), Sarah Cotton (former feature editor of Windsurf magazine), Maeli Cherel (top British Fanatic/Vandal freestyler) and Ellie Boyle (owner of watersports shop www.boylos.co.uk). The Ladies only goody bags were quickly snapped up before I gave a clinic running through top tips for the race. It was great to meet and chat to so many windsurfing Ladies, there were so many of the fairer sex around who I hope are now a little more tempted to enter the event next year!
The afternoon was a little more relaxed, involving parking our bums on Beachbum beanbags, tucking into chocolate brownies and having a good old gossip! It was gossip with purpose though, with some really good points coming from the day:
1.We are all in the same boat - or should I say on the same board!
EVERY woman goes through similar things when learning to windsurf, getting out there on their own and learning new skills.
We all struggle lifting big boards onto roof racks and knowing how the heck to keep them on there.
Getting a sail rigged and tuned is a pain in the bum, and a nightmare to remember what to do, in which order and the settings you used last time.
Sailing with the boys is cool, but not the same as a girly session where you can relax, have fun, laugh a lot and not have to worry about what the boys are thinking.
We’re not pros! Don’t think that everyone is better than you, and that you haven’t done enough windsurfing to get out there in front of other people. Everyone falls in, catapults, slips on their board and has ridiculous wipe outs, in fact the more you windsurf the more these things happens, and guess what, this is what you learn from! The more you get out on the water, the more comfortable everything will be and the quicker you will progress!
2. The harness is THE piece of kit we need to love.
Finding a harness that fits, is comfy, looks good and does the job is so much harder than it should be.
You thought finding that perfect fitting pair of jeans was tricky, finding that perfect harness is the same! There are lots of great womens harnesses out there, but as we are all different shapes and sizes it can take a while to find the one that works for you.
3. Women want to learn with women.
Simply from the amount of women that turned up to the sessions shows that we all want to get together, chat, and learn from each other. There was also a lot of feedback that women want more opportunities to learn from female instructors, with other females, in safe, friendly locations.
1. FLOW will feature a series of ‘How To’ articles covering the subjects (we think) everyone expects us to know about. From rigging, to understanding weather, getting changed in a car park (and keeping your modesty), and making sense of windsurfing chat.
If there are any areas you think would be good to cover in the series please drop me an email firstname.lastname@example.org
2. I aim to do as much research into the different harnesses on offer as possible. Including articles detailing specifications and quotes from the women that use them, as well as providing opportunities for you Ladies to try the harnesses, give feedback and figure out which ones work best for whom.
3. As we are coming into the chilly winter months sooner than I would like it is not the ideal time to focus on getting out on the water in the UK. Over the winter I will be organising and formulating a plan of running various get togethers for female windsurfers in the UK. This will range from informal girly road trips, to coaching clinics and womens windsurfing weekends. Stay tuned on FLOW for more details, and for those up for it there is a chance of get together more towards the end of the year (weather and time dependent of course!)
First of all to all the Ladies for being part of the weekend, particularly those who helped me organise everything FLOW related.
To Beachbum beanbags ( www.beachbumuk.com ) for providing us with the perfect way to chill out on the beach.
To Ellie ‘Boylo’ Boyle ( www.boylos.co.uk ) for the delicious and now infamous Boylo’s Brownies.
To Animal ( www.animal.co.uk ) for the bags and bits!
To Pepperfit ( www.pepperfit.com ) for the fabulous Boost massage oil, which helped energise the Ladies after racing.
To Allan Cross and the NWF team for yet again putting on a great event, and letting myself and the FLOW group be part of it all.
The Ladies Gallery - More pics coming soon, can't wait til next year!