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Windfest eventNow in its 13th year and growing all the time, Windfest has built itself up to be one of the biggest multi sports festivals in the UK. Well supported by riders and athletes and as one of the few free festivals, Windfest continues to appeal to the public.

With an estimated 15,000 people defying the bad forecast Windfest 2011 was once again a big hit.

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So as the weekend got closer, rumours were afoot that the wind god had been appeased for Windfest 2011; we’re not sure what he had to, do but as we checked the forecast which showed wind speeds in excess of 40 miles per hour, we knew for certain that Windfest organiser, Gary Willingham must have done something pretty dam big!

When we arrived there was an expectancy amongst the riders that we’ve not seen at Windfest for some time; as anyone familiar with the festival will know, the wind has been somewhat lacking for a number of years. But not so this year and taking advantage were the kitesurfers and windsurfers who soon took to the water, keen to familiarise themselves with the conditions and get some practice in ahead of their competitions over the weekend.

It’s always an action packed weekend and within no time the beach and promenade were full as the demos by pro wakeboarders, skateboarders and the Animal Bike Show, competitions in kitesurfing, windsurfing, SUP, Ultimate Frisbee, volleyball, surf ski, sea swim, RYA Team 15 Racing, slacklining, and Sukhothai martial arts, have a go sessions and watersports tuition all got underway. They was also chance to demo the latest sports equipment and test your skills on the Indo Boards. And keeping everyone informed throughout the weekend was Jay Stephenson on the mic. No stranger to Windfest, Jay added a new feature to the entertainment in the form of his hourly joke sessions!

At the Pool Gap there was a host of riders eager to impress the crowds with wakeboarding and wakeskating demos including Dan Jordan, Louis Floyd, Jack ‘Special’ Kid, Ollie Moore, Matt Crowhurst, James Young, Harry from Stand Out Signs, Sarah Kingdom and kitesurfers Adam Walker, Chris Burke, Ali Reader and Robbie Shire-Maidment; the eagle eyed spectator would have also spotted ITV’s Red or Black wakeboarding star Lee Debuse amongst the line up!

After daily warm up sessions to get them going, the wakeboarders hit the rails and once they got use to the different winch system, amazed the crowds with a mixture of grinds, backside lipslides, 180s 360s, aerials and tantrums. New to the Windfest Pool Gap was 14 year old kitesurfer Robbie Shire-Maidment who proved to the wakeboarders that being young and a kitesurfer made no difference as he hit the rails and completed his first trick after only 4 tries. After a quick demonstration of yoga on an SUP the wakeboarders were given a chance to have a go just to show that even though these guys live on and in the water it isn't that easy and we think the pics show that.

Opposite the Pool Gap was the skate ramp where 8 year old skateboarder Alfie and friends mixed it up with the ‘big boys’. Showing no fear and to the sounds of the Red Bull dubstep beats, these pint size youngsters really put on a show and gave the audience an insight into tomorrow’s future pros. 

Further along the beach and the Mavericks Slacklining Team were out in force showing what can be done on nothing more than a flat line of webbing. Tensioned between two anchor points this new extreme balance sport is all about balancing and performing tricks on the stretchy, bouncy fabric. With the first ever Slacklining UK Championships and Open Best Trick competitions taking place the guys pulled out all the stops with Jacob Hirsch-Holland taking the first ever UK title. 

The Animal Bike Tour returned to Windfest and Martyn Ashton and Blake Samson once again wowed the crowds with their impressive moves as James Thorne commentated, giving away free Animal stuff to the enthusiastic audience.

On the water and there was a hive of activity as the UKWA Freestyle Championships, windsurfing Masterblaster Fun Racing and kitesurfing course racing and freestyle competitions got underway.

Max Rowe, Chloe Goodyear, Ollie Acton, Alex Mitchell, Nic Hibdige and Ike Bradley-Baker all took podium spots in the windsurfing whilst in the kitesurfing, four times world champion Steph Bridge won the Course Racing for the second year in a row, Ned Taylor took first place in the Men’s Freestyle Invitational Championships and Sukie Robertson took first place in the Women’s Freestyle Invitational Championships.

The Red Bull Matadors returned for a second year with their aerobatic display. Pilots Paul Bonhomme and Steve Jones proved once again why they are masters of the skies as they performed death defying stunts over the Windfest site.

Last but by definitely by NO means least, we couldn’t finish this report without giving a mention to the legendary Windfest Saturday night party. Always themed, this year the party was awash with colour as revellers donned a mixture of red, blue, white, green, yellow and orange clothing and accessories for the Windfest Rubix Party.  There were some hilarious moments as people were seen ‘negotiating’ swaps in the hope of being the first to be dressed from head to toe in just one Rubix colour. As the night wore on and the alcohol flowed the clothing combinations became all the more bizarre!

And the torrential rain couldn’t put a stop to the night’s antics even when it began to pour, like a waterfall, into the marquee. Undeterred the Windfest crew got busy with cable ties, brushes and ladders to make the marquee waterproof, whilst Funnybone Phil poked the carpet with a pitch fork to make a hole for the water to escape! Never ones to miss an opportunity the wakeboarders made use of the impromptu, ‘pool gap’ and drenched everybody by sliding in the water!

So if you want to see even more pics .... (these are only a few from the weekend) go to our windfest gallery. Until next year's Windfest its caio from ExPix and our Windfest friends.


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