This year the British Tour returned and was made up of three stops; Lancing, Southend on Sea and Hunstanton. The BKC welcomed the collaboration of kite surf magazine giants Kiteworld and IKSURF to oversee the organisation and smooth running of the events, along with some very helpful volunteers from the local kitesurf clubs. Kite Brands and riders from all round the country travelled to these hot spots to spend the weekends competing out on the water along with enjoying the more social side of the kitesurfing scene. Riders are to attend all the stops in the competition taking their best two results out of the three to decide overall positioning. The Fleets in this year’s freestyle competition included: Pro Men, Pro Women, Masters, Amateur Men, Amateur Women and junior. Competitors are judged on trick difficulty, speed of approach and exit, style, execution and consistency.
This year being my first in competition I entered the amateur ladies fleet. I wasn’t even sure this was my year to start competing with only 10 months riding under my belt. Unfortunately we missed the first round in lancing due to a pre-arranged surf trip down Devon. But as the second stop was in our home spot sunny Southend on sea, Essex, there were no excuses.
A handful of other local riders entered to represent our kite community along with what was already a huge turnout of about 50 riders. The event was held right on the sea front which was perfect to grab the attention and interest of the public but not so great for the shallow water and mussel beds at low tide which did see a few sliced feet. Saturday the wind was light and cross offshore several of the first rounds were run but with a lot of waiting in between hoping the wind would fill in the judges and organisers decided to put the competition on hold until the Sunday as the wind forecast was looking far more promising.
At least the sun was still shining. Everyone headed over to Essex Kite Park who were hosting the evening’s entertainment, camping, bbq and bonfire. With some of the riders enjoying the evening a little too much Sunday morning saw an early start with the junior and pro women running first. There were 4 women in my fleet including myself with the winners of heat 1 and 2 going straight through to the final and with the two 2nds riding off for a place in the final. I was so relieved to win my heat going straight into the final.
The weather was quite different from the day before and with the wind building throughout the day the high tide and chop made the freestyle conditions less desirable. The amateur men followed the amateur women with masters running one heat of each in-between. As low tide was reached there was a pause in the comp as it was unsafe for the guys to trick in such shallow water. Everyone took shelter from the elements in the Brewer’s Faire on the front who were fantastic letting us use their facilities and not minding wetsuits for dress code. The Pro Men and women were saved until last when the wind hit its peak. Alternating a heat of each the pros showed us how it was done and we finally saw a break in the torrential rain.
After a long weekend the completion came to a close and overall I was pretty stoked to walk away with 2nd place in my first ever British kite sports competition, conditions weren’t fantastic but everyone stuck in there.
It was not only my first BKC Matt entered the Amateur Men’s fleet. After riding for a number of years for the fun of it and becoming a well-known ‘local’ in Southend, but never having the drive to compete, he decided to take the plunge and enter at the local event. After getting to the semi-finals he finished with an awesome 4th place. After some explanation it was decided that Matt probably entered the wrong division, as the Amateur fleet was less about powered, unhooked, wakestyle moves but more about all round riding. Still this is a lesson learnt and next year the Masters will be the fleet for Matt.
Heading into the final round at Huntstanton we needed to get another good score down to help with our overall points as we missed the first competition. The wind however had other plans for us and with only a small wind window set for Saturday morning we changed location due to the tide and headed down to Heacham beach for a bright and early 7AM riders briefing. The Pro events were underway with a heat of the women’s followed by a heat of the men’s in order to get the competition moving quickly and to give the riders a breather between heats.
Just as we had finished off the pro rounds the tide was getting too shallow and so far out the judges would have needed binoculars to see the competitors, so the call was made to move the comp back round to Hunstaton. But with the wind starting to ease as we got back up the road as predicted out came the sun and the wind vanished forcing the comp to an early finish without all the events being run. Needless to say we were super gutted that we didn’t get to ride. This also sadly affected our overall scores and positioning. Nevertheless this year was so much fun, such a great learning curve and an insight into the world of competitive kitesurfing. Bring on next year! I will be aiming for the pro women’s fleet.
We are both stoked to announce that for 2016 we will be riding for North Kiteboarding UK and Fluid Lines. For me being approached is a big deal as I feel I have progressed so much these last 6 months and I’m so excited to keep pushing my riding. As for Matt it was only a matter of time for him to be scooped up after ripping for a few years, and being well known as a part of the group of guys pushing Freestyle/Wakestyle in Southend. I’m lucky enough to share my love of kiting with my best friend, kiting as a couple is the best it not only helps us to motivate and progress but we also get to share the same buzz when a new trick is landed or an extra fun session was had. We have so much to look forward to in the upcoming months and we already love our amazing new North Kit.
Reviews and winter training to follow so watch this space.
Written by Bex Reader and Matt Bunn