It looks like NWF Junior, which takes place on the 3rd – 4th May, will be supporting by a who’s who of British windsurfing…
The National Watersports Festival (NWF), a hotly anticipated and much-loved part of the watersports calendar for nearly a decade, has announced that it will be running an additional event aimed solely at youngsters aged between 8-16. The new event, NWF JUNIOR, will take place at Stithians Lake (Cornwall) on 3-4th May 2014.
The venue means that NWF JUNIOR can deliver all NWF disciplines of Kayaking, Kitesurfing, SUP and Windsurfing in the safety of inland waters, but with easy access to the coast if required.
NWF has always had a very strong youth element, but the idea of “NWF JUNIOR” – a national event aimed solely at youngsters between the ages of 8 – 16 (adults need not apply!) has been developing for some time. NWF Organiser, Allan Cross, says that “Although there are established national youth pathways , NWF JUNIOR aims to fill the gap for the vast majority of youngsters who are not part of a national pathway or don’t necessarily wish to develop their racing skills. Besides racing, NWF JUNIOR encompasses other disciplines within the NWF sports, such as Freeride, Freestyle, Wave Riding and Speed.”
The founding principle behind NWF has always been that it is open to EVERYONE, so whether youngsters are complete beginners trying a new sport for the first time or at the top of national racing squads, such as Team 15, all are welcome to join in. As with the NWF, there will be emphasis on skills and drills – tuition for all abilities will be delivered by the best in the business. Allan is clear on the concept; ”As with the NWF, NWF JUNIOR is very much roll up your sleeves and get stuck in!”
So can NWF JUNIOR help to Inspire a Generation? Inspiration comes from all sorts of places. Lizzy Yarnold, Great Britain’s most recent Olympic gold medallist, has vowed to use her new-found fame to inspire future Olympians by visiting schools. Her childhood hero was heptathlete Denise Lewis and Lizzy has powerful memories of javelin thrower Goldie Sayers visiting her school in Maidstone. Olympic cyclist Laura Trott says that a chance meeting with Bradley Wiggins gave her gold medal inspiration at a young age. Laura said “I wanted to be a track cyclist from the moment I met Wiggo!”
Positive role models are clearly a great benefit to children and the two examples above show that face to face contact with their heroes can have a very profound influence on youngsters.
And that is the good news about NWF JUNIOR; if your kids are involved in watersports, they will not have to rely on chance meetings with the top names. At NWF JUNIOR, top athletes will be there, in person, to offer tuition, advice and inspiration! The roll call so far includes Windsurfing’s Olympic Bronze medallist, Bryony Shaw, who said “It means a lot to me to be able to inspire the next generation of UK windsurfing talent and that’s what NWF JUNIOR is all about, getting kids out on the water enjoying our sport.”
Alongside Bryony, the fastest woman IN THE WORLD on a windsurfer, Zara Davies, will be there. Zara is in the history books for holding not one, but two world records simultaneously! Nik Baker, one of THE most successful British windsurfers EVER says that he remembers coming up through the youth ranks himself and is “Super excited” about coming along and making a difference at NWF JUNIOR. Many other top Team Riders and Coaches have committed to be there, such as Ross Williams, youth champion / instructor, Chris Body; Freestylers Andy ‘Bubble’ Chambers and Max Rowe; Waveriders Steve Thorpe, Andy and Stephen King – with more big names coming on board every day!
NWF JUNIOR promises to be a great way to spend the weekend. It is an opportunity for kids to try out a new or different water sport, be coached by top professionals and a chance to experience competition, but in a safe, fun environment without undue pressure. Not only that, there is plenty to entertain the whole family, so that even those who don’t want to do watersports will have a great time! As Tris Best of the OTC (Official Test Centre) in Weymouth said “Bottling the energy, enthusiasm and professionalism of the NWF concept and targeting it squarely at youths is genius; but having the event down in Cornwall as well is the major trump card. A weekend in the West Country… go on then!”
On an island surrounded by water, there is no doubt that watersports are much more accessible than winter sports for us Brits. Windsurfing and Kayaking are Olympic sports, with a strong lobby for Kitesurfing to be included. It would be tremendous to imagine a future Olympic interviewee saying that they first tried out their sport or were inspired by meeting their hero at NWF JUNIOR. But the measures of success are an arbitrary concept and the reasons for getting involved in sport go way beyond single-minded pursuit of world domination. If NWF JUNIOR encourages more youngsters on to the water for no other reward than to learn new skills, have their confidence boosted or simply to enjoy themselves with friends and family in the great outdoors, it will be a roaring success – and then it can truly boast that it has, albeit in a small but significant way, inspired a generation!
Online entry will be opening in March. Get the dates in your diary now and prepare to be inspired!
Written by Jackie Lambert
Stithians Lake has camping, showers, refreshments and offers great hospitality, plus there are plenty of other attractions on site to keep non-watersports family members occupied! More information on what is available can be found at www.swlakestrust.org.uk/lakes-and-facilities/the-lakes/stithians-lake
NWF will take place as usual at Hayling Island on 5th-7th September 2014.
www.nationalwatersportsfestival.com or the NWF Facebook page will keep you up to date with all the exciting news about both events and keep you informed so that you don’t snooze and lose when online entry for NWF JUNIOR opens.