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The 25th of November in the year 2016 marked the advent of Swansea University Windsurfing Club’s first ever Student Windsurfing Association Event, Swansea Seamen! The 130+ person event took place down in Port Talbot in South Wales on the generous water mass that is Tata Steel Reservoir and featured a range of lessons and clinics for learning windsurfers along with freestyle competition and slalom racing for those looking to prove themselves on the water. Non – wind related fun was kindly provided by the Swansea University Live Music Society whose dulcet tones echoed throughout the Tata Sailing Clubhouse during their Open Mic sets which also allowed for those windsurfing attendees feeling brave enough to step up and serenade the crowd as well.
The weekend started off with 14 different universities from all across Britain piling into their minibuses vans and roof rack equipped cars and getting themselves across the bridge and border into the sheep filled and often rainy land of Wales. Friday Nights registration area and the venue for the evening’s party were provided courtesy of Swansea University Student’s Union and their events team and consisted of a private bar area for university groups to meet their hosts for the weekend followed by entry to the almost terrifyingly cheap Student Union Club Night Tooters!
Saturday morning invited the students to fill their bellies with the hangover curing bacon and eggs provided by their hosts and get themselves down to the lake to see whether they were still able to balance on a windsurfing board in their now somewhat fragile state. The wind, also appearing to be in a fragile state, decided to disagree with the forecast and not be present. Not ones to be disheartened by the lack of power in their sails a troop of over 30 beginners took to the water to work on their tacks and gybes, helped along by the beginner clinics led by Michael Jarman and his team of instructors.
In order to get some competition underway despite the wind conditions Saturday afternoon brought us the light wind freestyle competition! Judged by Taffy Osborne, Michael Jarman and Sean Coutts competing universities more advanced windsurfers launched into a two heat battle to show off their hail mary attempts, strimmers, all manner of heli-tacks and much more. Ending in a final heat consisting of four competitors Southampton University took a full podium with Charlie Wilson in 1st Place, Leo Calnan in 2nd and Oliver Bull in 3rd .
After a surprisingly sunny day out at the lake the students headed back down the M4 to their host houses in the city centre to prepare for the epic fancy dress party of the evening. The theme for the weekend 90’s kids TV shows and saw the students getting nostalgic as they transformed themselves into Teletubbies, Pingu, Dennis the Menace, Powerpuff Girls and many more. The Swansea Seamonites descended on the infamous Wind Street where a grand time was had by all, with beauty and grace, the SWA were let loose on the dance floor.
Saturday nights partying antics seemed to appease the wind gods as the students were greeted at the lake with a decent breeze enabling the day to kick off with some more beginner, improver and intermediate clinics led my Michael Jarman and Jake Roberts before the beginner, intermediate, advanced and team racing began in the afternoon.
Unfortunately the lakes main slip was unavailable for launching as some sailing races were commencing at the same time but a little ingenuity and innovation from the SWA Committee led to a successful time trial relay team race won by the home team Swansea, followed closely by Birmingham in 2nd and Sheffield in 3rd.
Next up were the beginner races with Victoria Taylor and Klaudia Swistek from UWE in joint 1st followed by Ben Silcock from Swansea in 3rd. The final race of the day was a joint start between intermediates and advanced racers and resulted in 1st for Natalia Orgonova (Birmingham), 2nd to David Salmon (Imperial) and Harriet Wright from Swansea in 3rd for the intermediates. In the Advanced fleet 1st went to Tom Sambrook (Birmingham), 2nd Ben Bulson (Bristol) and Leo Calnan (Southampton) in 3rd. The weekend was ended with a prize giving ceremony and debrief followed by a woeful goodbye as each university regrettably packed up their kit and headed off into the sunset.
A special thank you goes out to Boardwise for coming down and providing loads of great kit for all the students to use over the weekend, the SWA Committee, Tata Steel Sailing Club, Swansea SU Events Team, Swansea University Live Music Society, The Swansea University Windsurfing Club Committee and of course all the wonderful guests from the weekend it wouldn’t have been possible to have such a fantastic event without everyone, we hope you all enjoyed your first time and we will see you all in the coming events throughout the year!
Back with a bang (or maybe several after a few drinks), Birmingham played host to 130 fresh faced windsurfers on the first core event of the SWA calendar. With a forecast peaking at 4 knots for the whole weekend, it was certain the wind would put Vassiliki to shame.
Saturday and up at the crack of dawn (well, sort of)! Everyone headed off to Bartley Reservoir – the cleanest water in the West (Midlands). In Birmingham tradition, an array of cake was cracked out to fuel the intense sessions that were about to commence. Determined, and not letting the lack of wind put a damp on things, everyone headed to the water in full force. With over 30 beginners, almost as many instructors and the fantastic equipment (thanks to Boardwise), it was a recipe for frolicking fun. Particularly big shout outs to Lucy Taylor, Morgan Robinson, David Salmon and Laura Titheridge for instructing, excellent work!
In the afternoon the freestyle commenced, and we were blown away (sadly not by the wind…)! There were heli-tacks and sail 360s galore. A few attempts at a Hail Mary also provided high value entertainment. It was close, but Thomas Francis (Cardiff) cinched it, with Oliver Bull (Southampton) and Leo Calnan (Southampton) putting in a sterling effort.
Friday night was only a warm up - Saturday saw Jagerbombs in full flow and limbs everywhere. It is well known that this is the best prep any pro athlete can get (Source: Jack Osborne, Megaphone, 2016). With a legitimate party bus and a whole lot of fun, the Halloween-theme fun commenced in Broad Street. The Res-Erection was bigger and more glorious than anyone could imagine! Day of the Dead, Apocalypse and the Rocky Horror Picture Show were but a few of the iconic get ups of the night. Alas, the night ended, and we returned to Selly.
Sunday morning and the lake was as glassy as the floor of Urban. The day kicked off with team and Advanced/Intermediate racing. For the first time in our admittedly hazy memories, we had TWO women’s teams! They may not have won, but they pumped their sails with elegance, grace and finesse. Bristol won, with Southampton second and Leeds in third place.
For the Advanced/Intermediate race Gabriel Brettell (Nottingham) finished first, Ben Bulson (Bristol) came second and Jake Roberts (Swansea) followed closely. Amongst the intense races, the beginners continued to dominate the lake and several SUPs were lightly abused in a last man standing take down.
A four-way tug of war ended the weekend in style, with competition (and some dirty, dirty cheating) running high!
Prizes were awarded for the impressive performances, and alas the weekend had to end, and we parted ways.
Thank you for having us Up the Brum a second time – it may not have been windy but we definitely got wet! See you in Swansea.
Every year, as winter descends and most U.K. Windsurfing series have finished, the Puravida SWA wave series gets going. On the 3rd December, students from all over the country will descend on the beaches of Cornwall for the first event; PlymEx, hosted by Plymouth University. In previous years this event has been blessed with firing wind and waves allowing the cream of student wave sailors to really show what they're made of. However, the SWA Wave series does not only cater for experienced wavesailors. If you have never been wavesailing before then this is the event for you. Aimed at entry level wavesailors, the event features rescue cover and clinics for the novice wavehead. No matter what your level, if you're a student and interested in waves, this is the event for you.
Watch this space for announcements regarding ticket sales.
The dates for the Puravida SWA Wave Series are:
The Puravida SWA Wave series is sponsored by ION and O’Shea.
Matt Cox @ PlymEx 2015. Photo by Danya Shwertfeger
Last weekend, over 300 students descended on Roadford Lake for the biggest Student Windsurfing Festival worldwide: Aussie Kiss 15.
Ran by the Student Windsurfing Association, this weekend combines beginner tuition, competition, and legendary parties to create the highlight of the windsurf calendar.
Friday night saw students travel from as close as Exeter and as far as Leeds to arrive in the (slightly muddy) fields of Roadford. This year, for the first time ever, the weekend embraced its full festival potential, with the students pitching their tents at the lakeside (with varying levels of success!)
After picking up their event festival t-shirt (produced by sponsors Supersaturated) the students headed to the party to catch up on a long summer apart. Saturday morning saw the weekend officially kick off with a big SWA welcome before the windsurfing commenced. A fantastic team of instructors provided tuition for over 100 students, many of whom were windsurfing for the first time. For those a little more experienced, new SWA sponsors ‘Shaka Student Travel’ were on hand to provide clinics on beach starts and more. And for those who just wanted to get on the water, long-standing SWA sponsors Boardwise brought lots of shiny demo kit for the students’ disposal.
Fuelled by Red Bull’s tunes and beverages, the students carried their energy straight through to the legendary Saturday night fancy dress party. This year’s theme of ‘Circus’ saw bearded ladies, acrobats and mimes head to the Big Top for a night not to forget. Concert Solutions provided music and lighting through to the early hours and outrageous moves were thrown on the (slightly muddy) dance floor.
Although the night before had left some of them slightly worse for wear, the students were undeterred by the rain and headed down to the lake to huddle under the star tents under the promise of wind. The wind didn’t fail to deliver, turning up just in time for an epic showdown in the team racing.
With 19 teams competing through many heats, in the end it was Southampton who showed why they are the ones to beat, putting in three quality legs with impeccable change-overs to come home in first place. Not far behind them, and bringing home vital points for the overall SWA series, were Exeter and Birmingham, who rounded out the podium.
With winds creating borderline conditions, the freestyle competition saw a variety of tactics – with everything from front loops, body drags and vulcans to the slightly more conservative ‘sitting down sailing’.
Putting together a great heat and following through in the final, last year’s SWA freestyle champion Charlie Wilson (Southampton) showed why he is the one to beat, rounding off his competition with an epic ‘superman’ dismount. They are definitely doing something right in Southampton as 2nd and 3rd went to Oliver Bull and Nathaniel Warren (both of Southampton) respectively, who also showed some top quality moves to woo the crowd.
Exhausted, the weekend rounded off with the farewell and prizegiving. David Salmon was awarded top instructor, winning a free instructor course for his university courtesy of sponsor Colwyn Bay Watersports and James Cameron of Birmingham was named keenest fresher.
AK15 was a massive success, and has undoubtedly kicked off the SWA season with a bang. Next up on the SWA tour is Birmingham, who will be hosting their second ‘Up The Brum’ from 28th-30th October – keep an eye on www.studentwindsurfing.co.uk for tickets
A massive thank you to all our sponsors who provided prizes, equipment, safety and support on the ground for the event, without whom it wouldn’t have been such a great weekend!
- Birmingham 2
- Charlie Wilson (Southampton)
- Oliver Bull (Southampton)
- Nathaniel Warren (Southampton)