The best riders in the UK competed yesterday for a place in the PWA competition.
After a week of practice and crowd pleasing demos, the real competition hit the water yesterday with UK riders from the UKWA battling it out for a place in the PWA contest starting today.
Riders from all over the UK competed in three disciplines Freestyle, Slalom and Jump.
The freestyle got underway at around lunchtime. The skill in this discipline is managing to land a trick within the 70m long pool. The riders would usually complete these kinds of moves in the open sea and there were a few casualties over the sides. The restricted space proved no obstacle for freestyle veteran Robby Swift who managed to complete a Spock 540 as well as a one handed Spock winning him the contest. John Skye (Skye boy) was 7.5 points behind him with Nik Baker and Ben Proffitt taking third and fourth respectively.
The slalom contest was fast and furious. Competitors raced on a figure of eight course meaning that each had to complete three gybes. Indoor racing is all about making a clean gybe, a messy gybe will cost you the race as so many of the riders yesterday found out. Take the mark too wide and you’ll end up in the ‘corner of death’ – a hole in the wind at the far end of the pool.
The action was non-stop with riders overtaking each other on each gybe, slamming into the turns. Even the undisputed king of the indoor circuit, Nik Baker, was beaten in one heat by Guy Cribb. The racing between the eventual top three was incredibly close, a bit too close in fact when, in an aptly named ‘sudden death’ playoff, Skye boy dropped his rig on Nick Dempsey’s head rounding the white mark at the far end of the pool. Dempsey came away unscathed and stormed to victory in the rematch, coming in second overall after a very close final with Nik Baker who retained his crown. John Skye came third with Ben Proffitt taking fourth for the second time in a day.
The evening was all about jumping, with a ramp set up the middle of the pool and the riders in the starting blocks, the contest began. The ramp simulates the back of a wave but without much room behind it, the jumping can be tricky, Nick Dempsey explains:
“The jump is quite awkward, because you have to be totally lined up for the fin to go down the central slot, you also have to do your manoeuvre quite early before you go up above the fans where there’s no wind, you see a lot of people falling off that way.”
The final saw Jamie Hancock storm into first place completing a perfect push loop and Nik Baker attempting the same but not quite pulling it off. His jump was still good enough to put him in second place in the jump contest and to take the overall UK indoor title with John Skye and Paul Hunt completing the podium line up for the jump.
The top two riders in each discipline go through to today’s PWA contest. To catch the action live from the pool either head down to the ExCel centre in London’s Docklands or tune into www.High.tv Where the event will be broadcast as it happens.