The journey down to North Wales on Friday was a good one, helped along by some thumping tunes provided by Hospital Records. I Pulled in at Kimnel bay just before 3, and after saying hello to everyone it seemed that the conditions were good enough to give the Slingshot Turbine a trip out on the water. The wind was cross-offshore and pretty gusty, but it picked up slowly, allowing me to get some serious airtime, and also to try some unhooked moves with it (A full review will follow when I've spent a bit more time with it).
After a couple of hours on the water, I retired before the rain came through and enjoyed the BBQ and sank a few beers with the other competitors.
The forecast for Saturday was decent yet cross-offshore and gusty, and the plan was to try and get all the competitions completed that day. They opted to run the juniors and girls first, before getting onto us heavyweights, leaving plenty of time to get out on the water and get a feel for the conditions.
After a couple of hours of competition it came around to our first heat; I was up against Steve Mews, Marcus Hawkins and Kevin Matthey. All went well initially landed a high grabbed frontroll followed by a railey to blind in the tricky conditions; however I somehow managed to activate my safety release after passing the bar - sending the kite tumbling out of the air. Fortunately, it came to ground pretty quickly, and I managed to grab the bar, reconnect the chicken loop, and got some assistance to get the kite back into the air. The lines were all twisted up but the kite was flying, and I had no time to fix it, so headed straight back out onto the water, with sheer determination to make up for my mistake. After getting back upwind I strung a load of moves together in a frantic attempt to get some points; I didn't even hear the buzzer signalling the end of the heat - I was probably still out trying to get in as many moves as possible.
I was really pleased to see that despite the difficulties, I'd managed to score a win and a place in the final - the others must have clearly been struggling with the far from perfect conditions (albeit with their kite attached!).
This left me with plenty of time to watch the other heats and prepare for the final against Pete Whiteley, Kevin Matthey and Steve Mews. The final started off well, landed an early railey to blind after a previous attempt which found me flying across the water in a nasty gust. I opted to play it safe for the rest of the heat to rack up as many points as possible in the difficult conditions. When the buzzer blew to signal the end I had a good feeling that I'd done enough to secure the win, and all that was left was to wait for the evening event to get the results. I spent the rest of the afternoon watching the pro's showing us all how it's done - they were clearly struggling too but Ali Barrett was pulling off some amazing high handlepasses and powered low moves, but perhaps not as consistently as the North boys, who were ripping also.
We all headed down to the May Quay public house for a few ales and to talk about the days events. After food had been served, Mark Ward announced the Seniors' results in reverse order - Steve Mews 4th, Kev Matthey 3rd, myself in second and the old master Pete Whiteley taking top spot again! After loads of banter with the guys, I found out later that the judges decision was a split one, and had just not done quite enough to seal the win - my conservative approach had probably cost me.
Sunday was a very relaxed affair, and we awoke to bright sunshine, cal and warm temperatures. We all enjoyed the sun and generally passed the time on Dave's inflatable SUP's and helping Flindal with his kite-tow attempts in the light winds. At 1pm they decided to run the prizegiving and Whiteley did his best to shower myself & Kev with bubbly, but it was the King of Watersports award that came as the biggest surprise, as they awarded it to me for my never-say-die lightwind attitude - I was over the moon, as it was totally out of the blue. I was awarded a brand new Sector9 longboard which will keep me busy whenevr the winds not blowing - epic!
Pete's take 1st and 2nd
It's been a busy few weeks for me, and this update is well overdue.
I rolled up to Barrow after charging across the country straight after work on the Thursday evening, there didn't seem to be a great deal of wind on the jurney over, but when I drove into Barrow, it was blowing a full on hoolie. A couple of people were out on sevens, the wind was blowing 35 knots plus, and the seas were huge, but after a week of work I was well up for a session before getting some food in.
The wind on Friday was a little calmer than the previous evening, but most of the pro's were opting for 7m kites. They were a judge short for the Pro competition, and was asked if I could do it, which I was happy to oblig. It was a real eye opener for how it works behind the scenes and the difficulties the judges face when watching 3 people simultaneously whilst noting down moves at the same time.
The Pro competition ran very smoothly, the wind was great and all the heats and finals were over in a couple of hours, leaving loads of time on the water with all the competitors and crew.
Saturday soon came around, after sinking a few beers the previous evening. As the wind was fairly strong they opted to put the seniors in first, and I was drawn in the first heat against Dave Williams and Kevin Matthey. I opted for a 9, but the others played safe and went for 7's. I had a decent heat and landed a decent amount of my core tricks, yet failed to get any handlepass out of the bag. The other guys were struggling with the conditions somewhat, and I was put straight through to the final. Pete Whiteley won the other Heat and Marcus Hawkins won the Playoff, which set the final up nicely.
The wind was fairly consistent 9m weather now, and all of us opted to use our 9's for the final. I opened up with a few good moves, but crashed out on a couple also, Marcus seemed to be struggling with the conditions a little, but Whiteley was showing how it was done with great consistency. I failed to land my switch shifty to wrapped and also an s-bend, but when our time was over we weren't sure who'd taken it.
In the evening event we were informed that Whiteley had taken it with me second and Marcus taking third spot. Richard Gowers 'entertained' us all with a rendition of Barbie Girl on the Karaoke, but nobody was asking for an encore :)
After a loong night out in Barrow Town, we awoke the next day to yet more wind. It took a while for the tide to go out, but an expression session was run, to provide a show and clear our heads! It was manic with all of us riding so closely together, boosting high and generally messing around, but also amazing fun. It must have been a great spectacle for anyone watching from the beach.
Shortly afterwards we all packed up followed by the award ceremony, then made our way home with memories of a truely incredible event.
The forecast for the weekend wasn't great, and as I turned up on Friday afternoon, I wasn't sure whether the competitions would run. There seemed to be enough wind to have a muck about, so headed over to Paddy's Hole for a bit of a practice - the wind was up and down, but enough to bang out a few tricks.
When the evening came, we all gathered for the excellent BBQ, hosted by Mark Ward and Sukie Robertson then sank a few beers and had a good chinwag with the riders.
Saturday dawned with light winds from the SouthEast and a fairly poor forecast, yet we all remained optimistic; The wind was up and down all day, and was sufficient to get some course racing done, but no good for the freestyle. The wind did pick up a little in the early evening, after the events had been called off for the day, so managed to get a bit of time on the water. Saturday night was party time, and we all headed down to O'Grady's for some bevvies infront of the live band. I called it a night at 12, but several riders hit the clubs after, knowing that the prospect of decent conditions on Sunday was unlikely.
I awoke on Sunday to heavy rain, but the forecast was for it to clear up fairly quickly. The forecast was still pretty marginal, but we were fairly optimistic that we may be able to get some events run. When we went for the morning briefing, a sizeable section of the seafront drive was flooded, and we were all talking about going skimboarding on it.. a few hours later we put our plan into practice, whilst waiting for the winds to improve. This proved to be a real laugh, and the youths even made a kicker and slider from a piece of wood which was lying around. A short video of the action can be found below.
As the day progressed the wind improved enough to get the junior kitesurfing done, and to also run some race and land events, but it wasn't consistent enough to get a full programme of events done. Events were called to a close at 3pm, and we all gathered for the prizegiving before starting out on our trips home.
As usual I managed to score more time on the water than anyone else (bar the racers) and hit a few tricks infront of the photographers who were anxious to capture some action on an otherwise pretty disappointing weekend. Here are a few great shots by Colin Falcon (http://www.pixvault.co.uk/pur