The forecast was looking very good in the days running up to the event, heavy rain overnight; big winds for Saturday, and sunshine and a good breeze for Sunday... It was all looking very promising :)
Because of the biblically heavy overnight rain forecast for the Friday night, we opted to get up early on saturday and head over then. Traffic was light, and we got over to the bay in double quick time. We pulled in at the Battery carpark, then popped over to the cafe for registration and a Bacon sarnie and some banter with the Whiteley clan :)
As the tide was still out, the morning was pretty relaxed. We chilled out, inspected the huge kicker and slider which had been mangled by the storms of the previous night. It was planned to be the big air event on Saturday, so we helped place the upramp and downramps in the water for a bit of practice, before attending the briefing.
The big air event was done in the usual format with 4 rounds of 4 or 5 riders, with the best progressing to a further matchup to earn a spot in the final.
In the first round, I was drawn up against some of the young rippers on the tour, so I knew I'd need to be at the top of my game right from the start to progress. I'd had a quick ride on the 10m Hadlow ID earlier, and knew I could hold it down in the 25+ knot conditions. The sea state was choppy with some small waves coming in around the take off spot. It was difficult to get the takeoff right, but it was a great feeling to be looking down at your competitors at the height of their kite. Jack was pulling off some great powered loops, but they didn't quite have the height of a commited full on boost.
Everyone was going big and styling it up, but it was great to hear that I'd pulled it out of the bag, and progressed to the next round in first place. It was nice to sit back and watch the action for a few rounds. There were some big wipeouts to be seen, and it was a great spectacle to watch everyone really going for it.
Next up it was the Semis, and the competition was heating up, so I had to go for it again - going in with lots of speed, edging and popping hard at takeoff. As the heat ended I didn't know how well I'd done compared to the others, as everyone seemed to be going for it with great determination. As the result came through, I was stoked to hear that I'd come first again, and was very happy to make the final. Anything else from here on would be a bonus.
After the other semi had completed, the line-up for the final was posted : Myself, Pete & Hannah Whiteley, and Holly Kennedy. Myself and Pete made a pact that we had to do it for the boys, although I'm sure Pete must have been more concerned about avoiding defeat to his daughter!
A few minutes later, the final was on - it was a display of quickfire boosting by the takeoff marker. I was struggling a little to bring everything together to get some serious wang; but just before the end managed to get a very good one in, and thrust my fist upwards at the apex. It came to an end just as quicky as it started, and we all landed our kites and awaited the results. In typical x-factor style they were read out with long pauses in between, in reverse order...
4. Holly Kennedy...... 3. Pete Whiteley....... 2. Hannah Whiteley, leaving me to take the win! Pete naturally got a good ribbing from his daughter, but it must have been a very close thing, with none of us really knowing who had managed to pull it off in the testing conditions.
The rest of the afternoon was spent having a freeride, getting used to riding finless in boots and having a go on the slider. We called it a day as the tide went out, and got packed up ready for the apres-kite at the Lothersdale hotel. It was great to hang out with all the riders, sink a few beers, and discuss the events of the day, with photos of the days action shown on the projector courtesy of loopingit. We were all looking forward to the kicker/slider comp of the following day, and a few went into town and stayed out well into the early hours.
Sunday started slowly, the tide was well out and gave the organisers plenty of time to fix up the obstacles and get them positioned in the bay ready for the event. The wind was lighter than the previous day - solid 10m weather. So as the tide approached we all got our kit ready for action. Pete Whiteley showed how keen he was, and was the first to hit the kicker in only a few inches of water, and has the tide rose more and more people joined in, until it was announced that the competition was to start - a 1 hour session, with different categories for both the slider and kicker. Pete Whiteley continued to show how keen he was, and the young-un's were really putting on a show of commitment and style. After having a few hits myself, I decided to have a break and watch the action - everyone was doing well but Jack Daykin was looking particularly comfortable after many hours on the obstacles at the cable park.
Before long the comp was over, and everyone went out to make the most of the conditions in the falling tide. There was great butter flat water to trick in and the bay was full of kites.
The event was concluded with the prizegiving ceremony. A big thankyou was given to the local club and all their hard work, dedication and planning, especailly Glenn, who was the director of all operations. The award ceremony was the usual playful afair, with bubbly being sprayed liberally around and concluded with Jake (winner of the kicker comp) spraying Jack (winner of the slider comp) around the carpark after he got a good drenching himself!
It was a great weekend, brilliant conditions with plenty of wind, a great vibe and everyone was made to feel very welcome. Lets hope that we'll be doing it all over again in 2013!