The finals of the UK's first indoor windsurfing championships take place this weekend at the ExCel centre in London's docklands
The finals of the UK’s first indoor windsurfing championships take place this weekend at the ExCel centre in London’s docklands, featuring the first indoor freestyle competition ever to be held.
The indoor windsurfing championships at the London boat show has taken a while to get going, after serious initial problems with the pool and further re-adjustments that had to be made in order to make the wind less gusty. As John Hibbard explained to sailpower.com earlier in the week, the indoor pool demands a different style of riding.
After the first few days the slalom competition was looking decidedly more impressive than the freestyle. The freestyle discipline has never been attempted in an indoor arena before and maybe with good reason, especially since only one of UK riders has ever competed in any indoor competition before. The good news is that riders are now landing some tricks. As we approach the final stage in the competition we have already seen several riders landing forward loops, spocs and vulcans. The frustration of the riders is clear, as some of the best in the world they don’t seem to be able to do their reputations justice in these strange indoor conditions.
Initially many sailors found themselves unable even to make a gybe and due to the incredibly gusty conditions in the pool, and many of the heavier riders have had to pull out completely as they have found the pool totally unsailable for them. As a spectacle for the public it has proved very popular and people are recognising it more as an exhibition than a serious competition, although, unfortunately, some public seating has had to be disbanded to improve the airflow. It seems to be working though, as the wind conditions have improved steadily throughout the week.
The riders are all still really positive about the event and what it means for their sport Here’s a few of their comments:
“The idea of indoor windsurfing is what all of us dream of, packing up from work in the dark and heading to an indoor session. Luckily, from some amazing support from Schroders in the London International Boat Show it’s possible and it’s super fun. I am finding it great ’cause I am really light in weight and can burn across the pool with no problems so I have an immediate advantage. I managed to bust the first forwards of the competition which hopefully worried a few important names. But everyone is always improving and there are a lot of big challenges coming up. I hope this is going to be the start of another growth in the beautiful sport of windsurfing!” Jamie Hancock
“It is great to be sailing indoors, but super difficult. However, with each day the standard gets higher and higher as all the sailors are getting used to it. Kauli and Ricardo arrived yesterday and lifted the bar a few more notches. Ricardo is even trying to sail down the start ramp switch stance! By the weekend we should have a great show for the public, so if you haven’t visited yet, make sure you are around for the weekend. It is so much fun, and there is a great atmosphere amongst the sailors. You can’t understand how much fun a five-second run can be!” John Skye
This weekend will mark the big final with the final of the UK competition on Saturday followed by the UKWA (UK Windsurfing Association) vs PWA (Professional Windsurfing Association) on Sunday. The international riders have already started practicing for the weekend’s competition, which is set to be exciting watching as the first of it’s kind in the UK. Among those already here and sampling the indoor conditions are South American riders Kauli Seadi (Brazil), Ricardo Campello (Brazil) and Douglas Diaz (Venezuela).