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student Nationals briefing

So what do you do on the first day of December when there’s frost on the ground and ponds are frozen over? For these hard core set of students there could only be one answer……..head to Westward Ho! for the Student Kitesurfing Freestyle Nationals!

More than 120 students descended on the beach at Westward Ho! on Saturday 1st December for the Student Kitesurfing Freestyle Nationals. Hosted by the Student Kitesurfing Association, the event brought together kitesurfers from a variety of universities including; Bath, Bristol, Cambridge, Cardiff, Exeter, Plymouth, Reading, Solent, Southampton, Swansea, UWE, and Warwick.

Although kitesurfing has been officially acknowledged as a sport, it is yet to be added to the British Universities & Colleges Sports (BUCS) list of recognised university sports and as such is not included in The BUCS Championships. Thanks to the intervention of the Student Kitesurfing Association (SKA), students can now enjoy their own championships.


The first ever Freestyle National, organised by the SKA were held at Calshot Beach in 2010 and were a huge success. And whilst the SKA were unable to hold the Nationals in 2011, they once showed their calibre by pulling off yet another amazing event this year. As sponsors and media partners, the ExPix team were once again there to support the event, document all the action and get that all important media out there.

With little to no wind on Saturday morning the students had resigned themselves to a day of beach sports. However before they had time to cross from car park to beach, the wind miraculously appeared and it was all systems go. In fiercely fought competitions, approximately 50 student kitesurfers competed in the four categories of, Mens Pro, Mens Advance, Mens Intermediate and Ladies. And with the skill level and standard of riding greatly improved, judges, pro riders, Richard Burton and Jon Bleiker had a hard task on their hands.

The day started with the heats for the Mens Intermediate category, and with 26 students taking part, there was all to play for. There was a pretty consistent level across all the students and after 3 tremendous heats, for ExPix it was Cedric Bontemps from Southampton Uni who stood out with his work level, winning himself a place in the final for his efforts.

The final was very tight; in an intense 15 min round where the competition was based on technical skill rather than overall impression, the riders showed good all round technical ability together with an impressive work rate, meaning that anyone of them could have walked away with the title.

Oli Rubenstein from Exeter threw in some big kiteloops and Sam Evans, also from Exeter worked hard and consistently. But unfortunately things just didn’t go right for Cedric; crashing his kite towards the start of the comp, he missed most of the action.
So the all-important results!
1st   Sam Evans – Exeter
2nd Oliver Rubinstein – Exeter
3rd Cedric Bontemps - Southampton

The Men’s Advanced heats followed and the standard of riding was good, making it difficult for the judges. After 2 heats of 8 riders, the judges finally managed to narrow it down to 6 finalists. SKA committee member, Tom Shaw from Bath Uni showed good all round level and variety, whilst Tim Wrinch from Bristol Uni had power and height and some amazing raileys and Martin Hayes from Swansea impressed with his power. So in this closely fought final there could only be one winner and it was Martin Hayes who took first place on the podium:
1st Martin Hayes – Swansea
2nd Tom Shaw – Bath
3rd Tim Wrinch – Bristol

The girls hit the water next for a one off, all or nothing, 20 minute competition, with 7 girls of mixed ability riding, some of whom had not competed before. But experience showed through with former SKA Chic Rep, Pip Grundy from Plymouth Uni going for power, whilst Ros Jury from Southampton Uni showed good variety and was consistent, landing most of her tricks, and walking way with the title.
1st Ros Jury – Southampton
2nd Pip Grundy – Plymouth
3rd Kate Ross - Cardiff

And finally it was the turn off the Pro’s to take to the water. In an eagerly awaited final, Jon Deibel from Cardiff, Ali Barrett from Southampton Solent, and Liam Proctor from Exeter amazed the crowds as they fought hard for the Student Freestyle Champion title.

After a gruelling 20 minute final which saw Liam going for power but being unable to keep up the consistency and Jon fighting hard; both riders were out classes by Ali, who with his ‘competition head’ on, pulled out all the stops. Showing true professionalism and good technical ability, Ali’s mobes and regular / switch moves were enough to earn him the coveted title Student Freestyle Champion title:
1st Ali Barrett – Southampton Solent
2nd Liam Proctor – Exeter
3rd Jon Deibel – Cardiff

And as if that wasn’t enough, the ExPix tent saw its fair share of the action too. Set up on the beach, the ExPix team were out in force once again spreading some ExPix love with our truly amazing, totally needed, ExPix Beach Soup Kitchen. Feeding over 120 students with soup, bread and hot drinks, the ExPix tent was the place to be!  

With the competition over the students made their way back to camp to get ready for the Black Tie awards party, and with more than just a few conversations about who had or hadn’t brought their ‘black tie’ we were interested to see how things would turn out!

But as ever the students came good and as we walked into the party we did wonder if we had arrived at the wrong place; very classy, very elegant, althpugh there were one or two variations on black tie; not very good for piccys then!!!!!!!!!

So it came to the all-important prize giving and with over £5,000 of prizes, including goodies, image discs, prints and a PR shoot from ExPix, the place was buzzing.

After the individual prizes were handed out, it was time to see which university had won the overall Student Nationals Title and whilst reigning champions Southampton University held their breaths, it was Exeter University who emerged triumphant to take the crown.

Well done to all the riders who took part, the judges Rick and Jon who had a seriously hard job and the SKA for once again putting on a brilliant event.

See you all at Portland Harbour on the 22nd-24th February 2013 for the Intermediate Clinic!


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