After a couple of hours of banter we decided to retire for the evening, and had decided to meet up nice and early by the beach to ensure ourselves of a good parking spot.
At the briefing it was announced that the competition would soon be started once the sea receded a little more, and the intention was to get as much run as possible despite the gusty and variable cross-offshore conditions. The wind was forecast to drop and swing slightly more cross shore through the day, so the pro's were first to hit the water.
The Pro's opened proceedings, and put on a great show for everyone on the beach; the variable conditions were clearly making things difficult though, and it was a battle at times to get into the right location to be able to score.
My heat didn't go to plan at all - I crashed a simple raley to blind, and whilst I did get a big Blind Judge off a small kicker, the landing didn't go to plan and I was back in the drink again. As time was running out I got a respectable Back to Wrapped landed, and whilst I didn't see what George and Tim had done, I thought I had a reasonable chance of progressing to round 3.
I found out later that my back to wrapped was judged to be outside of the scoring zone, so would have to take the longer route to the final if I could win the following 2 heats.
A competitors barbecue was fired up at 7pm and the industry reps erected their tents on the field to give the place a really nice festival vibe. Sam Moore took care of the decks for the evening, and we all chilled out as the sun slowly went down after a hard day on the beach. A huge bonfire was lit later on, but I was tired from a long day, and had gone to bed by then.
The juniors, ladies and then am's all took to the water and put on a good show whilst everyone on the beach hunkered down behind any cover they could find. It was massively appreciated when Mike Birt erected his giant Airush tent, which became a very popular spot to dodge the elements. There was no such luxury for the volunteer marshals and organizers though - props to them for toughing it out!
After a couple more heats, it was semi-final time, and I was drawn up against George Treadwell who had progressed over me in round 1; I knew I'd have to perform at my best in order to ensure victory. I started with a comfortable raley to blind in the low tide flat water, and followed up with a back to wrapped, and then a huge blind judge, cheered on by Craig Smith who was standing in the water. I then bagged a nice S to Blind, and as confidence was high, went for a powered 313 which I duly crashed. I saw George land a very nice kiteloop to blind, but I knew that when I came off the water I'd done everything I could, so would be happy whether I progressed to the final or not.
It was due to happen shortly, but the event was put on hold for a couple of hours as the tide was too low and water too shallow to run any competitions. This gave us all a good break to have some lunch and to get our gear ready for the increased winds forecast for the afternoon.
Shortly after the restart it was time for our final; the wind had picked up since the morning so opted for my trusty 11m Razor. The heat started well, and landed a Blind Judge quick smart and a nice clean 313 on the return tack. I then went for a Back Mobe, and when I hit the water I knew instantly that something was wrong. I was being continuously dragged toward my looping kite, and it was only after about 10 seconds when the kite settled that I managed to get my bearings and inspect my bar and lines. The Bar was facing toward me rather than parallel, and I could see that my leash had clipped around one of my steering lines. It was a bit of a struggle to unclip it, after which I proceeded to try to unravel my lines, but they were in too much of a mess to have any hope of continuing. I had to settle for the fact that my final was over, so I pulled the 'Oh Sh*t' handle on the end of the bar, as I knew the main safety was too tangled to be effective and made my way ashore.
I looked back and saw Kevin Matthey continuing to trick, and whilst this was painful to see, I knew I knew I'd bagged 2 good scoring tricks which I sometimes wouldn't land in a full heat. It was also really nice of Nathan Cullingford to trudge out through all the underfoot debris to come and help me bring my gear back ashore.
Competition for the day reached its climax with the much awaited Pro Men's final between George Dufty, Tom Bridge and Sean Murphy. They were all a little late on the water, and the heat had started before most had gotten upwind of the safety buoys.
When the green Brazilian flag had gone up they all started tricking. It was a great display from all riders, but Tom's riding was really shining through with his double half cab's and a some really nice 540's mobes.
Midway through the final, Richard Flindall (on the mic) noticed that George Treadwell was running around like mad man trying to attract the attention of his team-mate George Dufty, and it soon became apparent that the vast majority of the tricks landed up to that point were not being scored by the judges due to being on the wrong side of the safety buoys.
There was then a frantic rush upwind in the closing minute or two of the final to attempt to get a scoring trick, but time was up before they all could do so.
As the riders came off the water there was a big controversy about whether the vast majority of the tricks would actually score or not, and we wondered whether the riders had been told that they could trick inside the buoys for the final.
It seemed that there was no such rule change and would have huge ramifications on who the victor would be. We all packed up the beach and made way to the pub for the results.
Fellow Airush riders Dan and Lucie Turner took top spots in the men and ladies amateur competitions respectively, leaving just the masters result to announce.
It was announced that Cedric Bontemps did enough to beat George Treadwell to third place; Kevin Matthey took second, meaning that I'd done just enough to secure my first win of the year.
The weekend was a real mixed bag, bright sunshine, pouring rain, winds both offshore and onshore, but another really good one. The late change of beach made the job of the organisers a really tricky one, but it produced a full set of results and an awesome party at the kite park. It was a very late drive home for most of the riders, and its just 3 weeks to the final event in Hunstanton to look forward to on August 15th.
Here's looking forward to a big grand finale!