The BKSA returned to North Wales after a 6 year break and for the first time to Kinmel Bay, just up the road from Rhyl. When the tide is out the beach is over 5 miles of sand with shallow water and numerous pools to play in.
For this event we were expecting cross offshore conditions which we were hoping would not be too gusty as the hills were quite a distance away. The event was supported once again my Centrica Energy who have several wind farms off the coast here. Generally these companies only put wind farms in areas where there is plenty of the stuff to give them a good return on the investment, so it makes sense to have wind powered competitions in the same areas. Centrica have made a strong commitment to supporting the communities where their installations exist and the BKSA welcomes the support. During the set up day we also received a lot of support from Steve Jones who runs the local school from the beach, North Wales Kitesurfing. Over the weekend he allowed us to take over his shop will all our kit so a big thanks to him. We also received support from the local council and harbour board.
Pro Kitesurfing this year in the UK has seen a decline in the numbers however those that are turning up are keen to compete for the title and although friends off the water, when on the water the fight for top spot is fierce. Unfortunately on the Friday of the event we had very little wind and no one managed to get on the water. So in the afternoon we did some shopping in the conveniently placed ASDA which was right next to the car park we had taken over as part of the event site. Pro Women’s rider Sukie Robertson and JP, our head judge, did the shopping and were helped by several other pro riders in getting things prepared. The BBQ was lit at 7pm and we cooked for all who huddled into the small marquee we had erected out of the torrential rain that decided to greet us. Throughout the evening Am riders and their families continued to arrive and enjoy the offerings. Packing up at 10.30pm we knew the Saturday was going to be a long day and possibly our only chance to get all the heats done for all seven classes.
Saturday arrived and the promised wind had not arrived. All the heat sheets were drawn up before the riders meeting as a result of the online booking system that is proving to be a great tool in allowing us to prepare for the day’s activities in advance. In total there were 35 riders in all classes. 5 pro men, 4 women although Nicky Rudd could not compete due to an injury sustained in Barrow in Furness. There were only 2 Am men registered in a class that used to be the biggest, but in contrast our largest class, the Am ladies, had 8 registered and this used to be the smallest. Seniors is always pretty well attended with 7 entrants and the Youth class had 6 registered with 5 in the Juniors. This is the highest intake for the season so far and is starting to head towards numbers of previous years again.
We were aiming for a first possible start at 11am and as the hour approached the tide had gone out and the wind started to pick up. A few riders went out and very soon it was strong enough to begin the event which kicked off with the Juniors, although there was enough wind for the pro men as well. Robbie Shire-Maidment riding for Flexifoil and Ellys Bloor for Mutiny kites both went straight into the final, leaving the remaining riders of Jordon Hurst, Tom Ford and George Dufty to fight it out for the final place. George got through into that final and showed he was over the nerves from the first event he entered in Redcar by stealing second place from Ellys, with Robbie once again taking first place and edging out a serious lead on the other riders with 3 events still to run.
The juniors were followed by the Am women which once again proved to be a big fight for top spot. Danielle Durrant went straight into the final after her first heat but sister Chloe was out manoeuvred by Polly Crathorne who also went straight into the final. Chloe managed to redeem herself in the second round and managed a place in the final alongside fellow Hunstanton rider Keira Alwood. In the final Keira managed to loose her kite with a heavy crash and the safety leash came apart. Both Keira and kite were recovered but it meant she had to accept 4th place overall. The Durrant girls once again took the top two spots but with Danielle in first place this time. Polly Crathorne is on form chasing these two sisters and will, I’m sure, step up the pressure as the remainder of the season takes shape. The youngest competitor in the class, Polly’s younger sister Jemima also did well in only her second competition taking 5 equal with Poppy Hawkins, leaving Rosanna Jury and Charlie Davies chasing the rest.
The men’s Youth class is always very intense and Jack Daykin and Will Makinson weren’t to be messed with and went straight into the final. This left Robert Palmer, Sam Bull, Joe Matthews and Tom Verrept to fight it out in round 2 for the remaining place in the final and for the first time this went to Tom Verrept. It’s always good to see riders progress and this result from Tom demonstrates that with persistence podium finishes are there for anyone to challenge for. In the final Jack once again took first place with Will chasing hard for his first podium of the season.
There were only two Am men in the event so Jack Riddel and Chris Forshaw went head to head on three occasions with the win once again going to Chris with a 2-1 win over Jack. It would be good to see more riders in this class. There are a lot of guys out there capable of competing in a class that is often not too far behind the standards of the Pro men, but generally less intense.
For me one of the best classes to watch over the last couple of years has to be the Senior’s. The over 35’s like to do battle just as much as the youngsters, and most of the riders in this section go for the moves as much as the youngsters and pro riders. The first two seeds of Pete Jones and Pete Whiteley showed they were not slowing down by securing a place in the final straight away. They were later joined by Steven Mews and Kevin Matthey after round two. UK speed record holder Dave Williams was there but didn’t quite make it through to the final. Dave has been on the scene for a long time and continues to compete for fun. He likes to win as much as everyone else and it’s good to see him coming back time and again. Marcus Hawkins from Hunstanton had a bit of an off day but like Dave he enjoys competing and will be there again challenging for a podium place. New rider to the group Peter Sawyer from Westward Ho enjoyed his first competition and vowed to be back to challenge for honours. Pete Jones pushed hard for the top sport but once again Pete Whiteley proved he is the man to beat, taking first spot for the second time this season. Kevin Matthey had a good heat taking 3rd place with Stephen Mews in 4th. Who is going to take this title away from the undefeated Pete Whiteley!
The wind continued to blow all day in a cross offshore direction which was proving testing at times with strong gusts and holes that left you looking for more power. The Pro Ladies went out in a one on one format but there were only 3 competing as Nicky Rudd’s injury kept her out of the game. Hannah Whiteley like her father demonstrated she is the girl to beat in this category, although Holly Kennedy was close with powered moves that almost matched Hannah. Sukie Robertson also put on a good show and gets stronger with every event and is still in contention with the points as they stand.
There were 5 pro men registered and as the wind was still there it was decided that they would compete one on one also with every rider having a heat against every other rider. This proved very entertaining for the crowds as there were big moves going down by everyone, big wipeouts, and with short transitions it was proving testing and tiring for the riders as well. Its good to see them getting pushed. There were 10 heats in total and at times it was difficult for them to show their best in the variable conditions. Dan Sweeney has a unique style as does Jon Bleiker, but it wasn’t enough to get them onto the podium. Current champion Ned Taylor was edged into 3rd place by Ali Barrett who still demonstrates to the onlookers that mixing up a bit of old school with wake style is both entertaining and also demonstrates versatility. Big air handle passes that you do not want to miss always impress. But it was the style and consistency of Luke Whiteside on this occasion that got the attention of the judges to take the top spot. When Luke and Ned went into the last heat of the day the way it all stood up to that point was if Ned won, then Ned, Luke and Ali would all have equal points and would have had to go into another heat to get a definitive 1,2,3. However Luke took that final heat to give us the final standings for the day.
It’s always satisfying to finish a day with a full set of results in every class. That’s what we come here for. A number of pro riders were heading off to the European Kite Tour in Sylt, Germany to compete, with Ali Barrett invited over to be a main judge at both the tour venues this summer. Because of this we had a mini prize giving for them all straight away and we sent them packing with instructions to bring back the trophies! The rest of us cleaned up and headed for one of the local bars where the Mayor of Kinmel had provided funding to feed us all. He was at the event during the day and was very impressed with the show everyone put on and is looking forward to seeing us back again soon. Sunday’s forecast was not good although it was dry and warm, but not a breath of wind so we had a prize giving at 1pm for all the am riders before departure. King of Watersports prize was given to Pete Jones because of his enthusiasm. It was picked up by the judges that he had a kite in the air or was on the water whenever he could. His enthusiasm to do something was good to see.
The next stop on the tour is the Lifestyles festival at Hunstanton. This event is worth attending whether you kitesurf or not. There is so muh going on with street events, dancing, live bands, bar-b-q’s, its all happening in Hunstanton 15th-17th July and is once again sponsored by Centrica Energy. None of the classes in the competition are secured yet so there is still all to play for.
Report by Mark Ward Race Director
1 – Luke Whiteside
2 – Ali Barrett
3 – Ned Taylor
1 – Hannah Whiteley
2 – Holly Kennedy
3 – Sukie Robertson
1 – Chris Forshaw
2 – Jack Riddel
1 – Danielle Durrant
2 – Chloe Durrant
3 – Polly Crathorne
1 – Pete Whiteley
2 – Pete Jones
3 – Kevin Matthey
1 – Jack Daykin
2 – Will Makinson
3 – Tom Verrept
1 – Robbie Shire-Maidment
2 – George Dufty
3 – Ellis Bloor