Taking the Leap of faith from T15 to UKWA Racing isn’t as difficult
as it may appear…
Connor Bainbridge, GBR 678, who is sponsored by Seasprite Sports, Ezzy
Sails & RRD boards, Surfstore and Red Nemesis Dog, was named as the
N.E.W.S. Youth & Junior Race Champion for 2005 at the RYA Super 8 event
at Derwent Reservoir in October.
Connor, aged 12, has only been windsurfing for 2 and a half years and in
2004 started racing in the RYA T15 initiative having formed the Halifax
Hurricanes T15 team with his younger brother, Kai.
After his first season of T15, Connor had caught the racing bug, but
with the T15 circuit offering ‘only’ 4 race days a year, the search was
on to find more opportunities to race, but without having to travel the
length and breadth of the UK.
Fortunately, the North East Wind Surfers Association (N.E.W.S.), which
is affiliated with the RYA, and which has been established since 1983,
organise 7 race events each year, attracting a broad range of ages and
sailing abilities, including the likes of Alan Jackson and Andy Kerr
from Scotland and Richard Hamilton and Alex Griffith from England. The
N.E.W.S crew, are a friendly, nomadic group of passionate windsurfers
who enjoy racing in some of the most stunning inland locations in
England and have a robust philosophy in terms of keeping it simple and
For a 12 year old, moving from T15 events to racing alongside some of
the UK’s best sailors may seem a daunting prospect, however, the reality
is that the Regional racing circuit is populated with a broad range of
passionate windsurfers who are incredibly supportive of young
Each race follows a standard format, starting with an upwind leg and
usually followed by a tour of the remaining buoys, which is great
training for future National and International events. Advice and banter
are in abundance after each race, with the more experienced sailors
completely open to handing over their winning tips and techniques. In
the N.E.W.S. events there is no strict ruling about board type or sail
size, which means everyone can join in and use the most appropriate kit
they have for the conditions on the day.
Having experienced T15 and Regional events, the time has now come for
Connor to enter the UKWA circuit in 2006. Without the experience of
racing in regional events the prospect might have been too daunting to
consider, however, because the format of the events and the sailors who
are competing are often the same, then the move up the competition
ladder will be smooth.
A first taste of UKWA racing in the Free Formula class at Bridlington in
September, confirmed that windsurfers are some of the friendliest people
on the planet (at least while they are windsurfing!) and that the leap
from T15 to UKWA is not so difficult to make.
Connor is a team rider for Seasprite Sports and benefits from racing
with Ezzy Infinity sails, which have removable cams, this means that he
can set his sails to suit the conditions across a broad range of
conditions. With the cams in place, the sails are incredibly powerful,
easily driving a Formula or Long-board onto the plane in lower wind
speeds. In higher winds, the cams can be taken out to give a broader and
softer sail characteristic, whilst still enjoying all the power
available from a more variable wind.
Many thanks to the RYA for the T15 concept, which has inspired so many
To learn more about the challenges facing a windsurfing junior wanting
to get the most out of the sport, visit www.rednemesisdog,com, for more
about Ezzy Sails and RRD boards visit www.seaspritesports.comand for
the best mail order service in the UK visit www.surfstore.co.uk”