The winning Axbridge Animals team

Axbridge Animals win wild windsurfing event at Cheddar Reservoir

The first regional event of the Team 15 junior windsurfing season took place at a very windy Cheddar reservoir on Saturday. In fact, it was so windy that the conditions drew a large crowd from right across the windsurfing community, with up to fifty people hurtling across the reservoir in addition to the twenty children competing in the event itself.

As it was the first ever event for several of the competitors and given the hectic conditions, Race Organiser Geoff Pook started the day with a race that combined paddling and cruising downwind with rigging sticks to a finish on the shore. Two complete rounds of heats and finals on this short but surprisingly tough course saw the home team, the Axbridge Animals sponsored by BiC Sport, ahead by a small lead over the visitors, the Durleigh Devils, sponsored by Gul, from Bridgwater.

Hoping for a slight easing of the wind, the competitors rushed hungrily to the barbecue for an early lunch while two of them, Laurie and Calum Finch, transformed in into guitarists and entertained a large crowd with the rest of their six-piece band, Metamorphis. Meanwhile, several of the competitors queued up excitedly for an interview with Radio Bristol, who had sent their radio car down to cover the event.

With rock music blaring out of the club house, three former local Team 15 members, who now participate in the UKWA Freewave events, were putting on a show of wild moves (and awesome crashes) for the spectators and the local media. These three; George Shillito, Graham Woods and Adam Lewis formed their own training group called Team AirBorn last year and have quickly achieved a high profile in the sport with the help of their enthusiastic sponsors, Windsurfers World of Bristol.

The wind didn't ease in the afternoon, so a simple slalom course was devised that would test the more experienced windsurfers. Extra safety boats were manned, ready for action, but after an exciting and action-packed ten minutes that saw some spectacular wipe-outs the race was abandoned. Bella Jezard (aged 14) was awarded an unofficial victory for completing the course, having handled the conditions with skill and determination.

With no afternoon result to count, the pre-lunch score stood and the Axbridge Animals were awarded the team trophy. Pippa Hambling and Lucy Owen were selected for special prizes. Pippa, for having the courage to enter an event after just one evening's windsurfing instruction! Geoff thanked the Bristol Corinthian Yacht Club's Commodore, Paul Hipwell, for the excellent hospitality.