Location: Hunstanton Seafront, Norfolk
Event Sponsor: Centrica
Location Sponsors : Kings Lyn & Norfolk County Council, Norfolk Green , Hunstanton Sailing Club, Hunstanton Watersports
Tour Sponsors: King of Watersports, Ion , Palmera Local
Disciplines: Kitesurf Freestyle
Dates – 15th-17th July
This is the 4th time I’ve made the journey to Hunstanton Lifestyles event where the BKSA held the 4th round of the Freestyle tour. Every year this event gets bigger and this year it was no exception. Apart from Kitesurfing (which kicked off the whole event 5 years ago) there were a large group of windsurfers, Skateboarders, Inline skaters, BMX, Street Dancing, Trade stalls, live bands playing on a large open stage to an audience of many hundreds of folk. There is always something going on here and the support offered to the BKSA from the local riders, the council and the sailing club is about as good as it gets. The sailing club in particular lets us take over their club for 3 days to party away from the main crowds and are very tolerant of some of the more enthusiastic antics which occur. So a big thank you to everyone there and Tony’s crew for making this event happen once again.
I need to make two apologies before detailing what happened in the competition; one to you all for having to wait so long for me to put out an event report (after the event JP and I decided to travel around the south with some pro riders chasing wind. Now there isn’t any, there’s time to sit down!) The second one is for a mistake I made at the prize giving where I announced Pete Jones in 2nd place for the seniors and Joe Hockley in 3rd. I had written this down incorrectly and these two positions should be reversed. They were informed immediately after the ceremony. I did this once before at the very first event I ran as Race Director and swore it would never happen again and always made sure things were double checked, but this check was not made on this occasion so I guess I deserved the ketchup soaking two nights before! Pete and Joe, I owe you a beer at the next event in Ayr. With 46 entrants at this event numbers are starting to get back to previous years.
Friday is Pro Rider day and at this event we had a slight increase in numbers with 6 women and 6 men entering. Unfortunately there was hardly a breath of wind on Friday although in his usual fashion Pete Jones did manage to get out, justifying his King of Watersports prize from the last event. Sitting around all day is always pretty mind numbing but there was little else to do apart from send Sukie Robertson off to the shops to get the supplies for tonight’s meal. Along with a bunch of other volunteers they put together a chicken Fajita meal that buzzed everyone’s taste buds with Ali Barrett doing the cooking along with Sukie. No one was partying too hard though as we all knew there would be wind in the morning.
Morning came and the predicted wind was there along with the rain. After a riders brief informing everyone that there were two days of wind expected everyone started to get ready for what was looking like a very wet start to the competition. Because of tides in this location we had to wait until the tide had retreated past a line of stones at the top of the beach. Out first were the Junior’s followed by the Youth Class. For the first time this season the Bridglets arrived on the scene, having been busy for most of the season so far at international events. Some of the regular riders were nervous at the competition but if you want to be a champion, you have to be prepared to compete against all takers and once on the water that is exactly what everyone did, giving a fantastic display of what the youth of the sport in this country have to offer, and their strong desire to win. In the first round Guy Bridge, competing in his first event this year went straight into the final as did tour leader Robbie Shire-Maidment. This left Ellys bloor, Tom Ford, George Dufty and Jordon Hurst to battle it out in the second round for the remaining final spot. Despite having an excellent heat Jordon Hurst was just beaten by George Dufty for that last spot. In the final, Robbie demonstrated why he is the tour leader with a wide variety of moves although George Dufty, in his first season is catching up fast. Guy Bridge demonstrated on the day he definitely has the moves to take that top spot as well, so the last two events of the season should be interesting.
The conditions were pretty testing with heavy rain and strong winds that faded away from time to time. Next up were the Youth section with 9 competitors making it the largest in the event. Both Tom and Oliver Bridge were there to put all the others on edge which they did convincingly by winning their first round heats to put them straight into round 3. Jack Daykin, the current leader did the same – leaving Robert Palmer, Joe Mathews, Will Makinson, Joe Moore (in his first competition), Sam Bull and Jack Brooks to compete for the remaining 3 Places. Will Makinson, chasing for the season top spot, had to win the next heat to stay in with a chance. His win in round two put him head to head with Jack, something we would normally not expect to see until the final, and Robert Palmer secured the last round 3 spot. This was turning into an epic battle on several fronts. Oliver Bridge demonstrated he wasn’t messing about winning the first place in the final as did Will Makinson resulting in the youngest competitor at the event Top Bridge having to battle it out with current tour leader Jack. Jack kept his head together landing most of his tricks taking him into the final with Tom struggling to land the big moves on the day. Will needed to beat Jack to stay in contention for the top spot in Blackpool which he did demonstrating consistency throughout the competition and a developing style, but it wasn’t enough to beat Ollie Bridge who demonstrated strength, power and a wide variety of moves letting the rest of the competitors in this class know that he means to make an impression. This class is by no means finished and we’re all looking forward to more wind and more developments.
In the Am Women the battle at the top is between the local girls of Danielle and Chloe Durrant. On home turf we were all expecting them to perform at their best. Unfortunately in the first heat Chloe, carrying an injury from the last event, had to go into round two for a second shot alongside Rosanna Jury and Charlie Davis. The win in this heat and a place in the final went to Polly Crathorne, keeping her in contention for the final showdown. In the second heat Danielle Durrant powered her way into the final leaving other local girl Poppy Hawkins, who improves with every comp still to try for a final spot alongside Jemima Crathorne. Rosanna Jury managed to win her heat to get into her first final with Poppy Hawkins also going through leaving an injured Chloe to challenge another time. Rest those knees! In the final Danielle powered her way clearly into the lead although for the remaining three the decision was very close and difficult for the judges to make. One thing they did agree on was that Rosanna Jury got the best wipe out demonstrating the ability to achieve height and power, during the competition of the whole weekend, and she still came up smiling!
The Am Men class, still the smallest fleet, had 4 contestants. Chris Forshaw, the biggest guy on the circuit once again powered into the final alongside Oliver Clatworthy who also demonstrated style and a variety of moves. Local rider Jordon Smith was close but had a scary moment doing a low one footer but looped the kite by mistake but despite this he nearly got his foot back in the foot strap! Jake Moore and Jordon went head on head in round two for the remaining place in the final but it was Jordon that came through in the end. The final between Jordon, Oliver and Chris would have to wait until Sunday as we ran out of wind, as we did for the seniors as well.
Bring on the Seniors, always a class to enjoy watching, and who was going to take on this Whiteley guy, can he be beaten? 8 riders in this class making it the second biggest at this event. In round 1 Pete Jones went straight through into the final leaving Kevin Matthey, Peter (Birdman) Sawyer and Joe Hockley to battle with Stephen Mews, Dave Williams and Marcus Hawkins in round 2. Pete Whiteley showed no mercy and went straight in the final. Dave Williams showed good form in round two to secure a final placing alongside Joe Hockley competing in his first comp of the season yet definitely had the moves to take on the main man. Wind stopped play for the day so we would have to hope the predicted wind for Sunday came in so we could finish of the Am Men, Seniors, and all the heats for the pro men and women.
Saturday night’s party went ahead in the sailing club. For personal reasons I won’t say any more although all those in attendance will know why! But outside the sailing club the live music was playing on the big stage and the crowds were out. The race crew had to behave themselves as their hotel locked its doors after 12 midnight, and the owners were always there checking up to make sure we were in. If not, we would get locked out!!!
Sunday morning and the promised wind was here and the rain had gone. With the tide still high and not expected to be far enough out until about 12.30 we decided to put two marker buoys in the water beyond where the known rocks were. Pro riders were sent out first with strict instructions not to trick on the landward side of the markers. We kicked things off with the Pro Ladies. With 6 in this and the pro men’s class we decided a different format agreed with the riders. There would be twice as many heats as normal and all heats will be one on one. Nicky Rudd, back from injury won her first heat as did tour leader Hannah Whiteley. Holly Kennedy came up against newcomer to the tour Beth Lygoe from St Lucia and couldn’t win against Beth’s variety of old and new school tricks. Their heat had to be blacked flagged for safety reasons as the windsurfers safety boat came in straight through our comp zone, as did several windsurfers. The boat then went straight out through the comp zone as well. Holly demonstrated why she is no 2 Seed at the moment by winning the final spot in round 3, putting her up against Hannah. Hannah won through into the final leaving Holly to compete in the runner up final for 3rd spot against Nicky Rudd who was beaten for the second final spot by Beth. In the runner up final Nicky showed she was back to win and took 3rd place resulting in only 190 points for 2nd place in the overall tournament between Holly and Nicky. Hannah Whiteley continued to secure her top spot though maintaining the standard to beat Beth into second place with powered railey’s and s-bend’s to blind. Hannah is definitely not leaving anything to chance as she chases her 3rd successive title.
The pro men went out next using the same format as the women. Ali Barrett in the first heat won a place in round 3 which was instant knockout, leaving Jon Bleiker to take on Dan Sweeney and Richard Flindall who were taken out by tour leaders Ned Taylor and Luke Whiteside respectively. This is the first time Richard Flindall has competed for several seasons but he demonstrated that he can not only talk a lot, but he has style and a large variety of moves as well. To the extent that in the showdown between him, Jon Bleiker and Dan Sweeney, he was here to make an impression. Jon Bleiker had a nightmare tournament breaking a board and kite in the process. Dan Sweeney is so close to those at the top but hasn’t quite made the breakthrough into the finals. In round 3 both Ned Taylor and Luke Whiteside went into the final pushing Richard Flindall and Ali Barrett into the runner up final. This was won by Ali though Flindall once again showed that he is a threat although he didn’t repeat his double s-bend to blind achieved in his first heat against Luke. Luke won the final against Ned with a front blind mobe, followed by a switch low mobe in quick succession. This class is still definitely not over and Ned is consistent enough to keep challenging Luke. Flindall has the ability to threaten anyone in this class but one thing is for sure, he knows how to enjoy himself on and off the water.
Before the pro finals we also ran the Seniors and Am Men finals that could not be completed the previous day. In the am men it was pretty close with Jordon changing kites mid heat as the wind had dropped a bit. But in the end it was Chris who once again took the top spot beating Oliver into second. This class is still not set, Chris is stretching his lead, although Oliver has the skills to take points off him. In the seniors we were all looking for an upset. Someone to put doubt into the Whiteley mind set. Joe Hockley got very close to beating him, something he set out to do last year but unfortunately we ran out of wind. Pete Jones put in a steady performance to take 3rd against Dave Williams, one of the longest serving contestants in this class alongside Pete!
So, a full set of results were achieved over the last two days. A few things learned about how things could be improved for future events and constructive discussions with riders about the future and how it might evolve. Most classes are not set in stone yet so we look forward to seeing everyone in Ayr in September for round 5, and Blackpool for the finals.
1 – Robbie Shire-Maidment
2 – Goerge Duffty
3 – Guy Bridge
1 – Oliver Bridge
2 – Will Makinson
3 – Jack Daykin
1 – Danielle Durrant
2 – Polly Crathorne
3 – Poppy Hawkins
1 – Chris Forshaw
2 – Oliver Clatworthy
3 – Jordon Smith
1 – Pete Whiteley
2 – Joe Hockley
3 – Pete Jones
1 – Hannah Whiteley
2 – Beth Lygoe
3 – Nicky Rudd
1 – Luke Whiteside
2 – Ned Taylor
3 – Ali Barrett
King of Watersports went to Dan Sweeney for a well executed Blind Judge 3