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"To cram a multitude of moves into 6 minute slot requires careful coordination, planning and above all, fitness."
John Hibbard, consistent and talented
"Andy King dominated the first round with a hugely impressive display of big loops and a flaka entry onto the wave"
An unmarked Goya flies through the air.
Courtesy of , Ezzy Sails, RRD & Da Kine. Photos by Simon Crowther.
The Four Nations Cup was the new idea to refocus the UK wavesailing title and replace the Triple Crown. The idea was to have an event in some of the most popular windsurfing locations in Britain; Brandon Bay in Ireland, Rhosneigr in Wales, Tiree in Scotland and West Wittering in England. Each round got a result; two eliminations in decent waves in Ireland , one elimination at Rhosneigr with just enough wind & waves and then the Tiree event which witnessed some classic conditions at The Maze and also acted as the qualification event for the PWA Wild Cards. So this just left West Wittering to come up with the goods and decide the titles.
The Build Up
As we saw one of the closest races for the title in the 2007 PWA waves, we also took it to the wire for the British series. In the youth fleet Richard Jones and Graham Woods have been battling it out all year after really improving over the winter. They were separated by very few points as the English leg approached. In the Pro fleet Andy King lead John Hibbard by 1 point, with Ben Proffitt in third place whilst the Amateurs fleet was lead by Simon Crowther. But with a discard left after completion of the West Wittering event, all that was about too change.
The Friday was warm and sunny, Saturday was cold and marginal, Sunday was blowing a hooley; raining and bang onshore. That is when the action started and tension tore its silent way through the heats. But with Saturday’s legendary compeer, Jem Hall, and the usual Head Judge Fred Willis off on some kind of marathon run on the only windy day for weeks, the contest got away to a quieter and slower start than usual come Sunday morning.
Bang Bang Onshore
The wind started south-west and swung more onshore as the tide rose. The early morning session kicked the day off with many of the latest and not so latest moves as the 48 strong fleet tuned up and got sails ready. Those who had many sails rigged benefited as the conditions changed through the day.
First casualty of the day, quite literally, was West Wittering’s chief instructor Adam Humphrey who just before the start pulled the tendon’s away from his shin on a bad landing. Off to casualty for him!
It’s Pro Time
An hour into the contest the 16 strong pro fleet got underway which included John Skye, Tristan Boxford, Chris Audsley, James Cox, Jamie Hancock, Paul Hunt and of course John Hibbard and favourite for the event Andy King.
To win through you had to get two good jumps and one waveride. As there was no set definition to the waves, the waveride split opinion on what counted. Most just accepted linking together some of the white-water mush on the way in, in some form or the other. Andy King dominated the first round with a hugely impressive display of big loops and a flaka entry onto the wave. As the heats progressed everyone else upped their game also. The second semi-final proved the most controversial. With Andy King up against Chris Audsley, Jamie Hancock and Paul Hunt, you always knew it was going to be a tough one. Many onlookers did not know how to call it although the commentary thought that Paul Hunt and Andy King might have just edged it but it was not too be and King was out!
During competition Andy King is not a man of many words, and as usual his answer to disappointment at not being able to sail against John Hibbard for the title was shown on the water as he went and sailed harder than ever pulling off some crazy doubles and regretting he didn’t try them in his heats.
Despite Andy not being in the final, John Hibbard still had to finish in second place or higher to take the title. This was still a challenge which Hibbard rose to superbly. To be honest the conditions backed off in the final and it looked to be a close call between Hibbard and John Skye for first place, as Paul Hunt didn’t seem to get it together as well as he had been doing all day.
When the prizegiving was called it was John Skye ahead and John Hibbard in second. This meant that John Hibbard and Andy King were tied on points. There were no sailing instructions to separate the two and many wanted them to go out for a sail off. In hindsight after 48 hours of discussion, rules, debates and the International Windsurfing Association getting involved that would have been the sensible thing to do!
In the end a very elated John Hibbard took the title and had this too say:
“I'm really happy but also gutted for Andy. We both started competing at the same time at the same event in Cornwall some 10 years ago. Andy is a total legend of a sailor and is amazing to watch. He's a good friend of mine and a national title is something both of us have been working towards for many years. I hope that Andy can take the title in 2008 and then the story will be complete. I have total respect for Andy, he is an amazing sailor and I wish him good luck for the 2008 season.”
The competition was fierce in the rest of the fleets, as Graham Woods from the youths, Simon Crowther from the amateurs and Ed Texier at his first event and winner of the masters’ fleet explains:
Another Ezzy winner.
"I noticed a wall of foam & was just about floating over the top of it when suddenly it felt like someone had flushed my board down the toilet..."
The Youth Fleet by Graham Woods
Graham: With the biggest youth turn out of the year West Wittering looked like it was going to be a hotly contested competition with the wave title to play for between Graham Woods and Richard Jones who where separated by just over one point. The competition started with an expression session on Saturday because of the light winds and small waves which was won by Richard Jones with George Shillito in second and James Randall in third. With the wind pushing in on Sunday a reporcharge system was set up with the winner of each heat going through to the final and then everyone else getting a second chance with the top two from that round going through to make a four man final. Richard Jones and Graham Woods both made it through to the final from there first heats so everyone else had another heat to see who would be joining them. With a high level of skill for the conditions Steve Jarvis and Ryan Humphries came out on top with some nice forward loops and tabletops and some impressive wave riding which got them through to the final.
The final saw all the guys pulling off very similar jumps with tabletops and forward loops being the main moves. Though the standout sailor for this heat was Ryan Humphries with his superior riding claimed a well deserved first place, in second place was myself and third place went to Richard Jones which also meant that this years UK Youth Wave Title was won by me!
Kyle tearing it up with his Ezzy.
The Amateur Fleet by Simon Crowther
Simon: Fourth for me and I was gutted. I scored a big fat zero in the final. I left my camera eight minutes before my heat (Simon is the official UKWA photographer) ran/ambled up the beach, launched and was sailing out towards the river mouth thinking about the upcoming heat, noticed a wall of foam & was just about floating over the top of it when suddenly it felt like someone flushed my board down the toilet - it just disappeared, ripped from my feet! So a very long swim and half the heat was gone (is six minutes really enough when competing in onshore dumpers?) I had enough time to sail into the competition area and walk up the beach, back to my camera. After a white water catapult right in front of the judges van, so minus points maybe. Classic! Anyway, congratulations to Kyle McGinn for winning his first amateur wave event!
Ed Texier giving it welly.
"Friday was warm and sunny, Saturday was cold and marginal, Sunday was blowing a hooley."
On his first event and the Master’s Fleet it’s Ed Texier
Ed: At first, a six minute heat didn’t seem like a tall order. This was my first ever amateur wave competition conveniently held at my local haunt and with the onshore wind blowing steadily at 25 knots what could possibly go wrong? Well, mistiming my first (and possibly my best) heat wasn’t a great start particularly when I realized that a mere six minute slot to ‘strut your stuff’ wasn’t as straight forward as it initially seemed – this was going to be a very long day. Fortunately, the scoring system provides losers with a second chance by means of competing within a loser’s final from which the winners proceed to the final.
One Red Bull and a half-cooked Grasshopper porridge later (make sure you read the instructions) it was time to do it all again in increasingly cold and wet conditions – you’ve got to love it! One forward, two jumps and some rides saw me through to the final when I sensed that I was getting something right, not sure what though. The final heat offered the most demanding conditions because the one key component that makes a good wave competition – waves - were becoming few and far between. This made it even more difficult to do anything worthy of points. However, having spotted the one and only ramp available to me, I threw everything including the kitchen sink into my final forward of the day whilst riding transpired into finding something to try and wiggle on.
Ed: So, competing is a tall order then? You bet your bottom dollar! To cram a multitude of moves into 6 minute slot requires careful coordination, planning and above all, fitness. My approach was far from perfection as I am sure it was for others. Who cares though as the experience gained is immense and subjects you to pressures not otherwise experienced in a ‘free’ session. It pushes you to achieve goals in a relatively short space of time whilst providing the opportunity to learn from observing pros. An awesome day out was definitely had by all.
All in all quite an event and an exciting finale to the overall British Title. There is a lot to look forward to next year on the wave sailing competition front. Simon Bassett from 2XS is putting together plans for a one day roll-over winter series as we cyber speak which is excellent news! Bring on the winter gales.
1st John Skye
2nd John Hibbard
3rd Chris Audsley
4th Paul Hunt
5th=Andy King, Clyde Waite, Jamie Hancock and Mark Bell
1st Kyle McGinn
2nd Oliver Long
3rd Chris Wooten
4th Simon Crowther
1st = Sarah Fryman, Caroline Radway
1st Ryan Humphries
2nd Graham Woods
3rd Richard Jones
1st Ed Texier
2nd Paul Metcalf
3rd Justin Goodwin
1st Dave Woods
2nd Sam Darkin
3rd Matt Leonard
Report by Clyde Waite
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