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What a weekend! Animal Windfest 2010 Sandbanks, Poole, Dorset

Packing up on Thursday for Animal Windfest 2010 with all the gear, ExPix Media Centre, projectors, screens, laptops, cameras, video cameras, goody bags,  ExPix staff, etc, etc, etc, the realisation set in that it's time for a bigger van, or maybe even a coach or bus! At this point we must add that any and all offers of partnering/sponsorship are greatly welcome!!!!

We arrived at Sandbanks late Thursday night and the launch party was already in full swing. After a very hectic day and long journey we pitched tents in the dark before making the unusually wise decision to hit the sack rather than the party. Friday morning and the ExPix team were up bright and early ready to video and photograph the action and promote the event via live images displayed in the ExPix Media Centre. The Animal Windfest site was beginning to take shape; the guys were busy setting up the Animal Bike Tour arena, competition areas were being marked out, the Red Bull mini ramp and marques were being erected and VW Breeze and Mercedes Vito had their vans on display, much to the envy of all the riders, spectators and ExPix!

Although listed as a 'practise day' there was still plenty of action to watch. Despite very light winds, the windsurfers did their best to run a freestyle comp in Poole Harbour, the Ultimate Frisbee comp got underway and the Animal Bike Tour started with one of many performances throughout the weekend. Getting in on the action and rightly so were Help 4 Heroes. With teams from the Army, Navy and RAF, they staged Racing the Channel, a cross channel kitesurfing race from France to England. Unfortunately ExPix weren't there to see them land at Poole; they had been scheduled to arrive late afternoon but had been delayed by a number of things and didn't arrive until early Friday evening by which time the Windfest Ball had already started. Still a sterling effort raising money for a worthy cause.

Friday night and a stream of well dressed ladies and half dressed men arrived at the marquee for the Black Tie Windfest Ball. Just to explain, the men weren't partly naked but rather were dressed up on top in the now customary Dickie Bows and tuxedo jackets with boardies and flip flops underneath! Every year the ball raises money for charity with this year's charity being The Richie Keefe Life and Soul Trust. A great night was had by all and after a night of dancing ended with more than one woman carrying their high heels and wishing that they had worn flip flops!

Saturday morning and ExPix moved camp to set up stall next to the Animal stands providing a  perfect opportunity to show images of Animal Windfest to the passing crowds. The ExPix hourly competitions also proved a hit and brought even more people to the Media Centre.

The rain proved a little difficult for a very short while but with the sun out in the afternoon the promenade at Sandbanks was soon packed. As usual the atmosphere was good, chilled and laid back and thanks to the efforts of event organiser Gary Willingham of FC Watersports, the guys from Animal and Phil and his team from Funnybones everyone had a brilliant time.

At the Pool Gap the action was full on as wakeboarders Lee Debuse, Sarah Kingdom, Max Main, Louis Floyd, Ollie Moore, Jack Kidd and a number of others impressed spectators with their big jumps and awesome moves whilst Adam Walker scored maximum respect for his massive tantrum.

The kitesurfing course racing went ahead as planned but with no wind close to the beach, the kiters raced a long way from the shoreline. Steph Bridge once again proved she was more than a match for any man when she won the mixed course racing event. Flexifoil were on hand to demo kit and 5 times World Champion and  Red Bull & Flexifoil sponsored kitesurfer Aaron Hadlow inspired riders with his presence.

The windsurfers did the best they could with the wind conditions, choosing the bottom end of the beach to stage their competitions. FLOW, For Ladies Of Windsurf, were at Animal Windfest for the first time and were out in force to introduce women of all ages and abilities to the sport. Animal team rider Nayra Alonso gave masterclasses on sailing in waves whilst former  international racer Amy Carter gave advice on racing.

Back on shore and the Ulitmate Frisbie & Volley Ball teams were enjoying the heat and competing to a packed beach. The MILF Ultimate Frisbee team caused more than a few laughs with their name, but it's not what you think, MILF stands for Man I Love Frisbee!!!!

The day drew to a close and the mayhem of the Animal Windfest Party took over; a legendary party and this year was no exception!

 With a Super Heroes theme the marquee was soon packed with creatures straight from the Marvel & DC comic books, together with a few newly invented superheroes. As Superman grappled with Wonder Woman and He Man fought off Poison Ivy we knew things were going to get messy!!! Thanks to a last minute decision by the Animal team and much to the amusement of party goers the antics that are always caught on camera by ExPix were shown on plasma screens above the bars during the party. The images were regularly updated throughout the night and shown together with the day time images. The party ended and as the Super Heroes made their way home they were treated to an impromptu Fire Poi display.

Sunday morning and another early start saw many a tired and bedraggled Super Hero desperately trying to find the energy to set up stall. Luckily Red Bull were on hand to save the day.

The weather was much better and the crowds came out in force.  The stands around the Animal Bike Tour were full as people watched the return of Sam Pilgrim to the fold to join Martyn Ashton and Blake Samson

who had already been performing for two days; the inclusion of a third rider made for some interesting shows. With three people on the course the choreography was a little tight, producing more of a competition style show with the riders pushing each other bigger than before.

The highlight of the day had to be the Red Bull Matadors flown by Red Bull pilots Paul Bonhomme and Steve Jones. It was amazing to see how low these guys flew and the positions that they managed to put those planes - just incredible to watch them flying backwards whilst upside down and spinning??? Thanks to the officers at the Sandbank Beach Office, ExPix had a prime spot on their balcony.

We managed to get access to the Red Bull mini ramp for a few action pics. This was a little difficult as the ramp top was small and there wasn't much room to choose the angle without getting hit by a stray board, but it didn't hurt too much and to get the shot sometimes you have to take a chance! We'll let you guys be the judge of whether it was worth it or not!

With loads going on for everyone we thought we'd show you a sample of images form a variety of different activities ..... maybe next year you may want to try out one or two of these sports or just come down to chill on the beach at the Animal Windfest.


At this point we must give special thanks to several people who helped us throughthis weekend. The guys at the Sandbanks Beach Shop for allowing us to plug into their electricity supply when it wasn't possible to use our generator on Sunday. Pennine Photographic who supplied us with some extra kit, and Sonia from Animal who helped us to move us into a prime viewing spot. Gary from FC Watersports and Phil from Funny Bones for allowing us to attend Windfest once again and for making it as easy as possible for us to do what we do! Also not forgetting Danny and Caroline for their help throughout the weekend taking pics and video as well as manning the media centre.

So with another fantastic Animal Windfest over it was time to head off home, upload the images, write the report and edit the video!

Keep an eye out on Facebook and twitter for the updates for when the gallery is restored and also for the addition of a quick event video on here.

Windfest image galleries are now online here enjoy.

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