The best sailors of the SWA (Student Windsurfing Association) gather in Rhosneigr for round two of their wave tour... throwing up some 'surprise' winners. Check out the full write up below and scroll through for rider interviews, too.
This weekend saw the second round of the SWA Puravida Wave Series, Bangor Rhos Ness Monster II. After making the epic journey to North Wales the day before, the SWA proceeded to explore Bangor’s finest evening establishments.
Whilst a few keen windsurfers got out on Saturday, conditions weren’t suitable for the contest, and everyone met at Funsport for a set of clinics run by head judge Farrel O’Shea, Jim Brooks Dowsett and Ben Page. Sailors were given tips on how to compete and impress the judges as well as a look at some latest kit courtesy of O’Shea and Simmer Style. There was also a chance to demo the kit, which is always a great opportunity for everyone from experienced to entry-level wave sailors.
Saturday night saw a Scottish themed party (a nod to the Rhos-Ness Monster). Fuelled by Irn Bru cocktails, the SWA engaged in much merriment at the host of Bangor University. Thankfully, having a Scottish flag on your face in Wales isn’t nearly as dangerous as an English flag, and everyone woke up (more or less) alive in the morning.
The forecast for Sunday looked promising so Skippers was called for 10am, conditions were good with most sailors well powered on 5.2-4.7. With ten minute heats and two waves and two jumps to count it was a hectic day on the water as the sailors sought to impress the judges.
There were one or two upsets: Matt Cox - who ranked 2nd after the first event - lost to wildcard Sara Kellett and tour leader Louis Morris in the semi’s, whilst Leo Calnan , 3rd at PlymExe, lost to Ben Page coming back strongly from an injury that kept him out of the first event, and Nick Welsh of Exeter in the second round. Once the smoke had cleared from the early rounds, Tom Bennett-Lloyd of Bangor, Ben Page of Southampton, Sara Kellett (UWE) and Louis Morris (Bristol) reached the final to fight it out for the event win. It was a closely fought contest with forward loops, tabletops and rocket airs. On the wave riding side it was Tom Bennett-Lloyd who stood out thanks to his powerful riding and solid wave selection.
Tom’s superior riding got him a well-earned first place. In a close second was Sara Kellett with some huge forward loops backed with smooth turns on the wave. In third was Ben Page who was unable to find two good waves to back up his strong scores in the air. Current tour leader Louis Morris completes the top four and cements his place at the top for the overall wave title. With Matt Cox missing out on a top 4 finish, and Ben, Tom, and Sara missing out on the first event, Louis holds a small but significant buffer going into the final event in Cardiff in two weeks’ time.
A huge thanks to everyone who helped make this event possible, the Bangor University committee, Jim Brooks-Dowsett and Puravida, Farrel O’Shea, Dave Buckland and Funsport, guest judges Steve and Ollie Laddiman, and of course, everyone in Bangor Uni windsurfing club for providing quality flooring and sofas for everyone to sleep on.
Thanks also goes to Antonios Kyparissis - part of the new SWA Media Team - and Jim for the photography.
SWA: “Sara, you were a new face on the Tour this weekend, but showed up in style. What did you think of the event and the atmosphere of the SWA?"
Sara Kellett: “Rhos Ness monster was my first SWA wave event, but I must say that I am very pleased I made the trip up there. The best thing about all the SWA events is that you are guaranteed a good time one way or another just because of all the lovely, like-minded people who turn up. As well as being a great opportunity to see, be and party somewhere different!
Having some proper wind and waves on Sunday meant it was even better. The whole atmosphere is pretty relaxed, with loads of people giving the competition a go even if they’ve never really been wave sailing much before. This was great to see and is the way it should be! It has confirmed in my mind that windsurfing is getting more popular again. Hopefully it inspired even those who just watched. I think it makes windsurfing seem a lot more exciting than racing round a course on flat water!
Tom Bennett-Lloyd's wave-riding stole the show, but a big congrats should also go to the other girls- Esther and Rose!
Ben and Louis showed some impressive skills too. I envy both of their forward looping consistency skills. Don't know quite how I managed to beat them both, but will try my best to do it again in Cardiff!"
SWA: “How would you say the SWA Wave Tour compares to other events you’ve done before?"
Sara: “I was impressed with how smoothly the competition ran. Thanks to Jim, Taffy and the Funsport guys, I thought it was just like the BWA events, so a great introduction for people thinking about giving that a go one day."
SWA: “The next event is Cardiff Wave in two weeks’ time. Will we be seeing you there, and what are your predictions from what you saw in Rhosneigr for the final event?"
Sara: “I will do my best to be there, especially since it is only down the road from my university. I hope a few more people will be persuaded to come along and give it a go!"
SWA: “Congratulations on your win here in Rhosneigr Tom, how did it feel to get your first win on the SWA?"
Tom Bennett-Lloyd: “Thanks! I've not done much windsurfing recently so it was great to know I’ve still got it in me, especially as everyone was sailing really well!"
SWA: “How did you find conditions out there? What do you feel was the secret to your success?"
Tom: “It was great fun! I really like port-tack cross-on, it wasn't the easiest conditions to get a good score though, and there were some big lulls so it was pretty hard to stay upwind! I found it pretty hard to pick out a wave that would hold up for more than one turn so a bit of local knowledge certainly helps. Also, thanks to everyone that got involved and all the volunteers that make these events happen! It’s great to see so many people keen for wavesailing!"
Keep an eye on www.studentwindsurfing.co.uk for details about the final event hosted by Cardiff University on 6-8 February, and email firstname.lastname@example.org for any enquiries.