I was warned that I would need painkillers for the N.W.F. Not for the aftermath of the beach parties, but because I would get face-ache from smiling so much. The face-ache had started by the end of Day 1 – and will last a few weeks yet from the memory of a truly EPIC weekend.
With over 500 competitors and thousands of spectators, this was the biggest N.W.F yet. There were kids there; Sea Vets in their 70s there; Windsurfing Royalty there… Walking around the N.W.F was like a “Who’s Who?” of windsurfing. The tannoy announced something about Team GB’s Nick Dempsey giving an interview with Peter Hart. “What’s Nick Dempsey doing?” my friend asked. “Giving an interview…” said an Olympic Medal-Winning voice, right next to us! The gurus – all champion windsurfers Peter Hart, Simon Bornhoft, Ant Baker, Jem Hall, Jim Collis and Guy Cribb – were giving free clinics and race tips.
I got chatting with a chap sitting next to me on the beach; a charming, softly-spoken gentleman who introduced himself as Peter. I asked him about his connection with windsurfing. “I was there at the beginning…” he answered. Realisation suddenly dawned; “OMG. I am speaking to a LEGEND!” I exclaimed. This Peter was Peter Chilvers – who invented windsurfing, right here at Hayling Island…!
The trade tent was just full of TOYS, TOYS, TOYS! It was a great opportunity to see and demo the latest equipment and get advice from manufacturers, designers and pro-riders. We came away from a chat with one supplier with the low down on two new sailing venues and a new sailing buddy! This is what I love about our sport. It is just so friendly! The N.W.F is such a wonderful forum to meet friends, old and new and immerse yourself in all things windy – and everyone, including the professionals, is just so approachable!
So what else was going on? Oh yes – there was ACTION ON THE WATER! Actually, our only complaint is that the sun glinting off the tropically-blue sea made it a bit hard on the eyes… And who said that high pressure meant no wind? There were people out there PLANING!!! There is photographic evidence of Muzza LOOPING a Futura, a whole lot of folk having fun doing freestyle and a brace of tandem boards performing tacks and gybes with balletic skill and co-ordination. The SUP action kicked off with the Hayling Extreme Paddle (run / bike / SUP) and there was a kite demo further down the beach. The number of sails on the water for the Master Blaster races almost eclipsed the sun!
For those not keen to get wet, there was plenty of chill time on the beach, having a beer or a cuppa (in china cups!!!!) – and everywhere we looked there were seas of orange. This was Brogbrough On Tour! They had descended in force in specially printed T Shirts, looking like they had all been Tangoed!
The night windsurf was as impressive as ever, with tow-freestyle and racing, with Turbo 15 youngsters teamed up with pro windsurfers and the top 50 freeriders from the day’s racing, all battling it out under the floodlights. And the parties, as ever, lived up to ALL expectations!
As Peter Hart said, the N.W.F atmosphere was extraordinary; “A continuation of the Olympics and this amazing summer of sport – sun, camaraderie on a huge level, great performances, crazy dancing and a sea of smiling faces.” From the feedback, everyone is looking forward to next year’s N.W.F, including competitors who travelled from Europe to join in and those in Australia who enjoyed N.W.F via the internet Live Feed. However, I am sorry to report that the future of N.W.F is uncertain. Allan Cross has funded and delivered the biggest and most epic festival yet, which is an AWSOME achievement, but one man can only do so much on his own. The N.W.F needs sponsorship to continue into the future.
2012 has been a sad year for windsurfing, with RS-X being dropped from the Olympics, pending the appeal in November. It would be too tragic to lose the N.W.F as well. I had the most wonderful weekend; N.W.F – I am missing you already! I can’t bear the thought that 2012 may be the last.
If you know of an individual or company who may be interested in a cost-effective way to reach thousands of extreme sports enthusiasts through what will expand to become the National Watersports Festival in 2013, please e mail the details to firstname.lastname@example.org and N.W.F will do the rest. I am sure that there is a solution out there.
We are the N.W.F community – let’s make it happen!