I was warned that I would need painkillers if I went the NWF (National Watersports Festival) last year. Not for the aftermath of the Friday and Saturday night beach parties, which are a legendary feature of the festival, but because I would have face-ache from smiling so much!
The Face Ache started on Day 1 – and continues every time I smile to myself at the memories!
What is the NWF?
Once Upon a Time, watersports racing was for highly-skilled or professional participants, with expensive equipment and complicated rules. There was no National event for intermediate, recreational watersports people, with freeride equipment of many different vintages and their families in tow – ie those who make up the majority of the watersports community! That was until a decade ago, Major Allan Cross decided to put this right and set up what is now The National Watersports Festival (NWF), featuring Windsurfing and the fastest-growing watersport in the world, Stand Up Paddleboarding (SUP).
Where is the NWF?
The 10th Anniversary NWF takes place from Friday 2nd to Sunday 4th September 2016 at Beachlands, Hayling Island; the birthplace of Windsurfing, where the sport was invented by NWF regular Peter Chilvers in 1958.
What Happens at the NWF?
Obviously, the NWF is a watersports event, all about getting ordinary people on the water and taking part. However, there is something to keep all the family occupied, with a festival atmosphere and full program of shore-based music, entertainment and fun.
For the Watersports Enthusiast;
All racing at the NWF is designed to allow anyone to take part, regardless of age, ability or type of equipment. If you can get yourself out to a buoy and back – you can compete! There are hundreds of prizes to be won in all categories, sponsored by the industry.
If you want to learn or improve, there are free coaching sessions throughout the weekend from some of the top, professional coaches, many of whom are former British and World Champions. Besides top British coaches, such as Peter Hart, Simon Bornhoft, Ant Baker and Get Windsurfing’s Phil & Danielle, Andy Brandt is flying in from California! If you have always wanted to try a watersport but have never got around it, why not book yourself on a taster session in one or all of the featured sports?
If you are keen, but don’t want to get wet, the NWF boasts the biggest trade show in the UK, where you can lust after all of the latest brand-new kit and talk to the manufacturers and Team Riders about the best equipment to suit your level.
To top off the on-water action, there is also the unique Night Watersports event, where the professionals, including the current World Freestyle Champion, Dieter Van Eyken, perform incredible stunts under the floodlights just feet from the shore and the winners of the amateur races can line up to race alongside their pro heroes.
For the Family;
Where to start… Well how about Enter the Dragon – Green Dragon Activities will be providing all kinds of mystical mayhem, with a huge variety of fun events for all; depending on the weather, this could include Battle Archery, PugilSUP and a Climbing Wall. For other interesting ways of using a SUP, how about SUP Pilates, SUP Polo and SUP Tug o’ War?! The Army will be there with a Lynx Static Helicopter, operating an open-cockpit policy for those who want to climb in and have a look! Throughout the day, there will be a full program of live music and adding to the festival feel, a variety of stalls offering delicious refreshments.
In the Evening;
We have already mentioned the legendary VIP parties, which take place right on the beach with live music until the early hours. Saturday is fancy dress, with a Pirate theme, so break out your eye patches, wooden legs and parrots and join in the fun!
As Peter Hart, windsurfing legend and professional windsurfing coach said of a previous NWF “Extraordinary weekend at the NWF… great performances, crazy dancing and a sea of smiling faces.”
How to Take Part;
Online entry is open for both competitors and additional party tickets. For further information, see www.nationalwatersportsfestival.com or follow NWF on Facebook.