We were to be joined later by another of our friends; Andrew; whose birthday was today, so we set off to the supermarket to make preparations for a birthday BBQ, complete my gaudy pink 'Happy Birthday' sashes and a 'My Little Princess' birthday cake, all to be washed down with a bottle of Jaegermeister!
Andrew had set off much later and got caught up in traffic on the way down. Our BBQ plan also proved not to be such a good one, as it was now chucking it down with rain, but we got it lit, sheltered under the awning and proceeded to cook by torchlight. Andrew also had the job of putting his tent up in the pouring rain - not the best start to his birthday evening!
The night was spent sinking our fair share of alcohol, whilst exchanging plenty of banter about the competition to follow, we were all looking forward for what was to come, and bets were being placed upon who would come out on top!
By mid-morning the wind was starting to pick up, and we decided to get our light-wind kites out on the water, hoping that it would increase further from there.
The SUP race had started by the time we got down to the water, and whilst it was just about possible to keep up wind, doing any tricks was a different matter entirely!
The juniors however did have enough to get out on the water, and competition began. After a few stop and start heats they managed to battle through to get a result. They also tried to run the am ladies too, but there clearly wasn't sufficient wind for them so competition was halted for the day.
The rest of the day was spent watching the Parkour, BMX, Scooter and Inline displays, whilst catching up with everyone on the tour who we hadn't seen for the past year. It was clear that everyone was very excited for the conditions forecast for Sunday - wind all day! and I think most took it easy that night in preparation for an early start.
At the briefing, we were informed that the running order would be seniors followed by amateurs, then all of the pros. I was drawn up against my good friend Dave Wilde in my first heat, which I was certain would be a tough one! Andrew and Aaron were drawn up against each other also, and it was clear that the talk of Friday night would soon be brought to the water!
As the first heat approached a tough call had to be made on which kite size to use. I opted to copy Dave and go for my 11m Airush Razor. As the heat began it became very clear we'd overestimated the wind, and we were both very soon struggling to stay in the competition area. I struggled to land anything significant except a tantrum, grabbed front roll and raley to blind; Dave landed a back to wrapped and a blind judge and hence progressed straight to the final. As I was waiting for the second round heat to begin, I'd heard that young Aaron had beaten Andrew in his heat and progressed straight to the final with a guaranteed podium.
The second round put me up against cable park master Dave Whiston and Mark Seager. The wind continued to be on the light side, and whilst I managed to get a raley to blind, a grabbed front and an underpowered f-16, I couldn't manage to stick a 313 despite several attempts. I was pleased to hear that I'd done enough to make the final against Dave Wilde and 5 times former champion Pete Whiteley.
The final started much better as the wind powered through, I knew I had to up my game from the earlier rounds, so went out straight from the off and hit a nice powered blind judge. I then looked to get the 313 in, and failed at the first attempt. Looking downwind I could see that Pete Whiteley's kite was tangled up and spinning on the 5th line, with daughter Hannah trying to get it under control. On my outward tack I managed to stick a front to blind, and finally got my 313 on the way in - I knew I had a good chance of winning now, but wanted to make sure and get some more tricks on the board.
By this time, Pete had miraculously got his kite untangled and was already back on the water - great skills! I went for a kiteloop 3, which wasn't as powered as I'd like, and whilst I did catch the bar in mid-air, I didn't stick the landing. I tacked back out again, and hoped to have time for another attempt, but by this time the heat was over and I just had to hope I'd done enough.
Tom was impressing by landing technical moves with ease and George's powerful style was great to watch whilst Sam Light just made it all look too easy, adding grabs in left right and centre. The other pro's also put on a great show and it was great to sit back and watch them as the heats progressed.
Before too long the finals were upon us. The ladies showed great grit and determination as the conditions proved to be more difficult as high tide approached - it was clear it was going to be a result which was hard to call between Rosanna Jury and Hannah Whiteley.
The men's final was a mouth-watering affair with Sam Light taking on Tom Bridge and George Dufty. Tom was going big and technical for someone of such a young age and was clearly a match for the other riders. George was firing on all cylinders with some big powered moves, but soon found himself at the downwind mark and continued to bang out his big moves down there, whilst Tom and Sam remained centre-stage in front of the judges. Sam continued to be the one to watch with his effortless Slim Chances and grabbed back mobe, but then Tom Bridge really put the cat amongst the pigeons with a clean 317. Sam replied immediately with a Blind Judge 5 which swiftly restored the damage before the finals came to a conclusion.
I was super stoked to hear that the ladies pro title was awarded to Airush team-mate Rosanna Jury, and that Sam Light's flawless style, variety and power was enough to take the victory ahead of young ripper Tom Bridge and George Dufty.
We knew it would soon be time to be saying our farewells for another year, and reflected on an epic day of competition. It was great to catch up again with the competitors both old and new. Roll on the 2015 Competition Season!
Logo'ed pics by EXPIX Extreme Action Photography