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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!