This year, Aussie Kiss XI just got bigger and better in every dimension.
For student windsurfers, Aussie Kiss X1I offered redemption of the sins of freshers week through the celebration of the lesser known 11th commandment ………..THOU SHALT WINDSURF, to which 600 disciples faithfully abided over one weekend this October
This yearly student windsurf festival, now 11 years old continues to develop and adapt – in true reflection of the way the sport continues to grow. This year the event proved itself to be not just bigger and better than its previous years, but probably the biggest and the best of its kind.
The masses congregated late on Friday evening in Cornwall, with accommodation, breakfast and party venue provided by Bude Holiday Park over the weekend and excitement at seeing fellow windsurfers from other universities always leads to parting late into the night . Following an unwelcome early start on the Saturday morning, the minibuses and kit laden vehicles made their way to the windsurf spot about 40minutes down the road just across the border in Devon to Roadford Lake which has supported the event for the past 11 years.
There is no doubt that Aussie Kiss attracts some serious talent in the windsurfing world. But it is not just about devout windsurfers celebrating the sport in all its forms- it’s about spreading/sharing the love (and we don’t just mean at the Saturday night party).
AKXI this year saw 156 beginners take to the water in one weekend – a number unparalleled by any other windsurfing event, making Aussie Kiss the single biggest introduction of beginners to the sport in the world.
An incredible 41 student instructors and powerboat drivers gave up their own time windsurfing (or resisting the allure of a nap in the minibus) to impart their windsurfing wisdom to the new converts. In charge of organising them was SWA’s committee member Simon Garrod-Bell, who having learned to windsurf and gained his own instructors course through his own club at University West of England, is himself a testament to the SWA’s strength not just in introducing new people to the sport but also developing them into life time enthusiasts who can pass on their skills.
Another undeniably key ingredient to the energy and enthusiasm on the beginners beach was instructor extraordinaire Sam Ross, on board this year to help with teaching and organising the beginners and responsible for one of the weekend ‘s most impressive sights: what may well be a record for the largest balance point game ever achieved.
By the end of the weekend, Roadford Lake was awash with the fluorescent glow of 70 beginners rigs lent by various university clubs along with a generous contribution from SWA sponsors Boardwise. The new troops were able to make the most of excellent light wind on-shore conditions to learn the basics of the sport with the reassurance of ample safety cover from Roadford and their instructors.
This year, extra support from sponsors meant that you didn’t need to be pulling of flakas to win prizes. Up for grabs was the ‘most enthusiastic beginner’ title which Adrian Bell from Liverpool University who was was awarded a free ticket to Beach Break Live student festival next summer, whilst Sooz Kellagher, president of the Cardiff University club was recognised for her hard work and dedication instructing beginners over the whole weekend and won a intermediate instructor’s course courtesy of Sam Ross.
Getting wet whatever
Organising hundreds of students eager to get out on the water and windsurf is no easy task, but slick organisation from the SWA committee headed up by Event Manager Taffy Osbourne meant no one missed out. A huge thanks is also owed to SWA sponsors [Boardwise, Fanatic/North, RRD, Starboard/Tushingham, PatriK/Sailloft] whose offer an impressive selection of demo kit which plays a huge part in the event, getting the intermediate and advanced sailors out on the water, as well as offering a chance to try out the latest equipment.
For the less windy lulls and those looking for a bit of variety, this year the lake offered an array of different activities for everyone to try. SUP provided a light wind alternative to try, whilst Roadford Lake offered banana boat rides for those who just hadn’t had enough of falling in the water.
This year, the event really expanded it’s festival feel. Whilst the need for wellies and chilly students added to the effect, the real festival vibe was down to Jodie Rimmington’s hard work in gathering sponsors, trade stands and bands to feature.
Sponsors Red Bull and Beach Break Live kept the atmosphere and the windsurfers energetic with their Tune Trucks pumping out music all day, whilst free red bull and mouthwatering burgers courtesy of Roadford Lake’s large barbecue helped re-fuel the cold and hungry windsurfers throughout the day.
Spartan wetsuits were also about for anyone looking to refresh their wetsuit wardrobe – with a huge selection of sizes and styles at brilliant prices, even many beginners were tempted by the investment. Anyone and feeling the chill of the fresh Devon air before even hitting the water had a good excuse to visit trade stands such as Scruff Clothing and Be[anie] Unique, who had a selection of brightly coloured hand made knitted beanies and headbands on sale which proved very popular.
Towards the afternoon, the booming beats from Red Bull were paused and everybody crowed round to enjoy the live performances from talented local artists Sam Green, and Isaac Indiana who played an acoustic set. The afternoon was rounded off by a great performance from innovative music duo De’vide.
The festival even carried on back at the Bude Holiday park on the Saturday evening: if music, food, sport and shopping weren’t enough to round off a pretty perfect festival, the UK premier of André Paskowski’s film Rewarded following freestyle champion Gollito Estredo made it pretty much unbeatable. The film showed everyone just where the sport can be taken and everyone from beginners to pros were left wide-eyed and totally inspired to get trying some new moves or progress to the next level.
Of course, when the wind dies and the sun goes down and we can no longer feel our hands…windsurfers hit the dance floor. Student Windsurf events have become pretty much synonymous with insane fancy dress and Aussie Kiss Xi was no exception. Possibly some of the best attempts seen to date, this year’s theme ‘The 11th Commandment – Thou Shalt Windsurf’ saw a plethora of expected biblical including devils, vicars, and the nativity, not to mention the Spanish Inquisition, bunches of grapes and jesus on a cross.
Once fancy dress was donned, beer jackets were very much needed and the night began with caravan parties and drinking challenges from an enormous 16-person beer funnel constructed by members of Liverpool’s club. You may be wondering where it went from there, and I can confirm that a large proportion of the party-ers are still asking themselves the exact same thing. Drinking did indeed resume through the more conventional vessels of cups rather than funnels, and as the music set in from Isaac Indiana, windsurfers spent the night proving that their dance moves are almost as progressive as their freestyle.
Alongside the beginner windsurfing on offer at Aussie Kiss, which very much remains the focus of the event, the festival is also the first in the series for all the racing and freestyle action in the SWA each year. For many taking part this will be the first chance to see the competition since the summer when many will have spent time abroad training; so the competition at AK usually has the potential to throw out some surprises.
The conditions were a bit on the light side for any planing competition, however the new addition to the SWA of a tow-in event ensured the spectators had plenty to keep them entertained over the whole weekend. The tow-in saw a total of 16 entrants put themselves forward for the qualification session on the Saturday. With limited places for grabs in the Sundays main competition, running alongside the pro demo session, the students had to pull something big out of the bag to be sure of securing a place. After a briefing and quick demo run from Max Rowe (Fanatic/North/ION) and Adam Sims (Patrick Dielheim boards/ Loft Sails) it was the turn of the SWA’s finest to have their go. With many finding it hard simply to get up in what is an incredibly technical discipline those impressing the most early on included the usual SWA freestyle suspects of Ollie Action, Nicolas Terenzi and Adam Chubbock. Not to be left behind the list of entrants also saw 3 girls, proof the women’s scene is very much alive and kicking.
With the main beginner sessions and all-important party out of the way Sunday saw the competition get underway in earnest with team racing, a (light wind) freestyle competition and the tow-in final all taking place. University team racing was up first, with 16 teams of 3 taking it in turns on the one design RRD firerace boards in a simple out and back master blaster format. The racing as ever was not without its controversies but after plenty of collisions, shameless blocking and even some dragging of buoys it was to be last year’s champions, Southampton Solent, who were to come out on top bagging their club a fanatic board for their troubles.
With team racing out of the way it was the turn of the ever-popular freestyle event to take centre stage. Several competitors were clearly frustrated at the lack of planning conditions but with all the events counting toward the series, albeit slightly less for a non-planing competition, it was definitely all to play for among the 18 guys and girls taking part. With more flic flacking than you can shake a stick at, rail rides and lots of detached sail madness going down in all the 3 minute heats there was plenty for the spectators on the beach to watch. Impressing the all star judging panel the most was Adam “chubby” Chubbock, fresh from a season in Vass he will definitely be one to watch in the rest of the series. In a close second was last year’s freestyle champion Ollie Acton and Louis Morris came in third, someone better known for his racing talents but showing he also has the skills to mix it up in the freestlye as well.
Finishing AK was the tow-in final, the last on the water activity of the weekend. Those qualifying from Saturday for the final took their runs with pro’s Adam Sims and Max Rowe thrown in the mix. Offering a taste of what the guys can do when it was windy it was a fitting end to the event with last year’s champion at Aussie Kiss Nicola taking top honors. Following a disappointing result for the Italian in the light wind freestyle, a big one handed air flaka from behind the powerboat was enough to secure him the tow-in title and prove that he will be one to watch when the wind kicks in at the other events.
This is just the beginning…
For anyone unfamiliar with what the SWA actually does, you may be surprised to hear that Aussie Kiss is just the first in a series of events. With seven more events to come hosted by various universities over the next six months you may wonder when windsurfers even have time to study, but they would certainly argue they have their priorities right. With these events attracting a heavy following throughout the year, it’s no wonder that the SWA teaches more people to windsurf every year than any other organisation. Watch this space…..
All images courtesy of Supersaturated.