Race across the Wash

A CROSS the Wash race from Skegness to Hunstanton and back again will herald the approach of a weekend of extreme sports action in June.

This event is going to get a huge amount of coverage, but for some reason so far only a few windsurfers have signed up. You'd be mad not to miss it, so let's get some entries in and show those kitesurfers what we're made of!

Pro kitesurfers including British Champion Kirsty Jones and windsurfers (names tbc) will be on standby waiting for a solid 15 knots of South Westerly wind to compete against each other in a fast and furious head to head race, prior to the Windfest extreme sports festival, which is being held in Skegness.

The crossing, which has never been done before, will start from Butlin's beach and take place during the week June 5 to 10. Covering a distance of 14 miles each way, the race is anticipated to take 2 hours.

It will not only be a test of speed, skill and endurance but will also raise vital funds for the RNLI, to support the invaluable job they do every day saving the lives of water sports enthusiasts around the UK.

The supreme Cross the Wash victor will be the first kitesurfer or windsurfer to make it back to the Butlin's Resort Beach. The race involves a running start from the beach, heading out across the bay towards Hunstanton, following the course mapped out by the Red Bull Buoys. Once at Hunstanton, a marker buoy will dictate where the athletes will turn to start their return leg.

Wash Conditions The 14 mile funnel of sea known as the Wash stretches between North Norfolk and Lincolnshire. It is subject to rushing, surging tides and sandbars with heavy seas throughout the middle in areas known as the 'Roaring Middle' and the 'Deeps'. There is also a risk on a warm summer day of sea mists which can build within minutes and decrease visibility to less than 3 miles. To protect the participants, 3 special support and safety vessels will be monitoring the race carefully every mile of the Wash.

In addition to natural challenges race participants will face, the Wash is a busy shipping lane. Boston and Kings Lynn are major ports and see a regular traffic of 300 tonnes+, 150ft long container ships carrying steel and wood from Scandinavia and Europe.

John Irvings, Coxswain mechanic at Skegness Lifeboats is concerned mainly about the weather closing in during the race and is reassured at the safety measures already deployed by Windfest. ' There's no doubt in my mind this will be a big challenge for those participating, but the RNLI will be on hand to help the Windfest team with all safety aspects and navigation. We wish the participants all the very best'.