The first stop of the BKSA 2009 tour in Swansea, Wales was my first freestyle competition. I threw myself straight into the deep end (in the form of the Pro Ladies’ event), and came out the other end with a 3rd place ☺
All the pros turned up for registration on Friday morning. Being my first freestyle competition I was pretty nervous and as the wind didn’t kick in until the afternoon, there was plenty of time to let the nerves get on top of me. But I had already learnt from doing a wave comp in SA that the best strategy was to just chill out with the other riders and take lots of deep breaths! When the wind finally kicked in about 4pm, it came in pretty strong, was slightly cross off and very gusty. All the Pro’s heats were completed but the finals had to be carried over to the Saturday due to a sudden drop in wind (and there was me raring to go on my 13m). Friday also saw local school kids turning up to have a go on some trainer kites. Swansea might be seeing a sudden increase in the number of young kite enthusiasts.
Photo courtesy of Tony from www.kiteboarder.co.uk
Saturday arrived along with a lot of riders turning up to register for the Amateurs freestyle, Seniors and Juniors freestyle, course racing, landboarding and buggying. With the wind blowing full force and an occasional rainstorm soaking us and the locals who had come out to see what kitesurfing was all about, riders had to keep their wits about them. The Ladies final was well underway when a threatening squall meant the judges stopped our heat. I made the mistake of being tidy and wrapping up my lines, so when the heat re-started 10 minutes later, my lines had got in a muddle which left me a bit flustered. Still it was a great experience for my first freestyle comp. Once that was over and I had warmed up in the hot showers (thanks to the event sponsors for them!) I hung around and watched the other events (and poor Rich who managed to get lost in the course racing!). Both Saturday and Sunday were very busy days with the wind blowing solidly, and there was some great kiting action in all events, although I must admit I missed some of the action on Sunday when I escaped a rainstorm by heading for a pub lunch. But I was pleased to be there to witness JN rider Pete Whiteley’s classic Deadman rendition in his heat!
Swansea was a great success for JN. As well as myself taking 3rd place, Hannah Whiteley took 1st place in the Pro Ladies, and her dad Pete Whiteley took 1st place in the Men’s Seniors. Congratulations to all the riders, and to the organisers for such a great event. Thanks to the sponsors for the live music belting out on the beach, the barbeque, the pub buffet, and a warm beanie to counteract the freezing temperatures. Oh and thanks to Aaron Hadlow for my podium winners’ kiss on the cheek. I touched greatness!