With another SWA wave season around the corner, Dan Lytton caught up with Jim Brooks-Dowsett from Puravida Boardriders, the head sponsor and organiser of the series as well as Ben Page, SWA Wave Manager, President of Southampton, BWA Finalist and a new judge. Check out more event details right here.
Ben, for those new or unfamiliar to the SWA Wave Series, can you tell us what it’s about? Who can compete?
Ben – “The idea of the SWA wave series is to provide an environment where people can both try wavesailing for the first time as well as improve their level. Everyone is welcome, if you can waterstart then you are ready to try waves. These events are great because it gets people of all levels together in one place so it’s an incredible opportunity to meet other wave sailors and up your level, whatever that may be.
I would encourage everyone who comes to the event to compete. The level on the SWA varies hugely and with a bit of tactics and some luck you’d be surprised how well you can do. Competition provides that bit of extra motivation that can really push your sailing level. This works at any level of wavesailor, from the new-bee heading out in bigger waves than they’re used to, or a more experienced sailor going for their first forward loop. Whatever stage you’re at, competing will change the way you sail.”
Jim, there’s clearly a huge amount to organise. What is it that you do to support the Series?
Jim – “In simplest terms, the keenest of Student Wavesailors come along…..and we put on a comp for them! I’m lucky to be supported by some great teamriders and friends in the industry that help run the BWA Wave tour and it’s that experience we’ve used to make the Puravida SWA Wave series work in just the same format!”
Ben, what do you think has contributed to the considerable success of the Series over the last few years?
Ben – “I think definitely all the work Jim and Puravida have done to support the events. We are very lucky at the moment to have a series that is run professionally just like a national wave event on the BWA series. We run events at times of year that are convenient for students, in locations that are easy to get to but still offer fantastic conditions for both free sailing and competing. As a result of this we have had some awesome sailing on the series in the last few years.”
Jim, what do competitors have the potential to win? And why else is this series so valuable to the UK windsurfing scene?
Jim – “At each event there are some great local prizes from the hosts, and at the end of the year there is some top new kit from North Sails and Ion Wetsuits & Accessories. It’s not just about the prizes though, windsurfing at these events is the best way to push your own skills forward among other great riders. We get a lot of guest pros like Nik Baker and Ross Williams, as well as advice from myself and the team on how to improve at the comps and choosing the right kit! The link with the BWA Wave Tour has proven invaluable, feeding riders across to join the national tour and gain even more skills & experience along the way – not to mention the great wave breaks we visit! This is a proper tour that searches out the best conditions in the UK and some top level students just like Jony Price and Ben Page have have made the most of it and had a big impact on the BWA Tour too!”
Ben, you’ve been with the series for a few years now. Can you tell us how you’ve progressed since before you joined the SWA, and where you think it may take you?
Ben – “The SWA has been a huge stepping stone for me, it has been an opportunity to learn how competitions work and how to sail in them before committing to a national level event. Competing has changed my sailing a lot, I improved much faster as a result of competition and I would definitely not be in my current position without it. As for the future, the SWA has changed me from someone who windsurfs to someone who bases their life around the sport. Ultimately I’d like to do well in the pro fleet on the BWA, but that will take time. For now just sailing as much as I can and seeing some new places along the way!”
What advice would both of you give to people who are new to the SWA or wavesailing?
Ben – “I think the best advice I can give is to go for it, enter everything and never worry that you’re not good enough. Don’t be afraid to make mistakes, and if you’re unsure about something, ask. Pretty much all windsurfers are friendly and will love the opportunity to have a chat!”
Jim- “Just get involved! Coming along and learning from the other riders, guests and pushing your own skills no matter what level you are at is what it’s all about……and getting a top buzz along the way! You don’t need all the kit in the world to compete, one board and a few sails will do, just try to choose the right kit to make the most of your water time!”
The SWA series is often the first taste of competitive wavesailing to a lot of our members, but for many it develops into a massive passion. What other opportunities are out there for student and ex-student windsurfers?
Ben – “The next step from the Wave series would be to join the national tour with the BWA, but there are also local comps and some great chances to improve and compete abroad as well making the most of any opportunities to travel! The UKWA run a great slalom tour for anyone who fancies racing with entry level fun races right up to Pro Level National Slalom racing……again, get stuck in, it can be a top buzz and competition really helps improve your skills!”
Jim – “For those who like to travel and improve their windsurfing on any level, I would always consider becoming an instructor and taking advantage of some of the great holiday destinations that fill up with young instructors each season – and it’s usually out of term time!! You never know, windsurfing could become part of your job??”
The SWA Puravida Wave Series kicks off on the 5th December, hosted by Exeter Windriders and Plymouth Windriders, with possible sailing locations including Marazion and Gwithian.
We will then be heading to South West Wales and Rhosneigr in the Spring for two separate events hosted by Cardiff and Bangor Universities.
If you are interested in getting involved in the Series you can contact us or check out the website: