Bristol Windsurfing shred some waves at BUCS as new national champions!

Bristol student windsurfing

Written by John Wiggins.

As the pinnacle of the SWA calendar approached, university teams from Birmingham to Bangor headed for Weymouth and Portland Sailing Academy, to do battle in the shadow of Mount Olympus (Portland Bill), in the Olympics themed competition. A series of events from individual and team racing to freestyle would decide which university would go home as champions, and which would bite the surf.

As with all of the events in the SWA calendar, the event provided an opportunity for all levels to test out their game on a board, from those who had just taken up the sport this year, to a couple of former student world champions.

With over one hundred people competing across the Advanced, Intermediate and Beginner categories and BUCS points up for grabs, the competition was fierce. Racing across the Saturday and Sunday saw Bristol take home 3rd in the BUCS men’s advanced racing (Ben Bulson), 1st in the BUCS men’s beginner racing (Joel Edwardson) and 1st place in the BUCS team racing (Louis Morris, Ben Bulson and James Arney).

Each race over the weekend tests slightly different skills. The Team racing is the ultimate interuniversity showdown, with teams of three racing off the beach in a slalom relay course.

Louis Morris during the BUCS Team Racing, photo by Nick Hughff

Louis (Bristol’s club President) pulled away for an early lead, gaining some clear water before executing a rapid switch-over with Ben and James, who extended the lead and brought home the win, with some furious sail-pumping in the marginal wind conditions.

In comparison, the freestyle is probably the best spectator event, with competitors pulling off “gnarly" moves to impress the judges in a sort of Strictly-Come-Windsurfing. Louis Morris displayed technical precision and fluidity to edge into a narrow lead, but the win was snatched from him in the dying seconds by Charlie Wilson of Southampton, who nailed a stylish and notoriously difficult “hail mary" (this consists of detatching the sail, throwing it in the air, and catching it again).

Joel Edwardson and Ben Bulson also showed impressive ability, each winning and ranking highly in a number of close heats to secure their respective medals. With gusty and at times light winds, getting a good start was vital.

Spectator support was kept high all weekend with different heats running constantly over the two days. As well as BUCS points, the results from these events counted towards the overall ranking in the SWA series, combined with those won at previous events throughout the year. Bristol showed a stellar performance in the SWA ranking as well, reclaiming the team racing title that they last won in 2012, and receiving a £250 voucher to spend on new kit.

The club brought home a number of SWA medals, from 3rd in the SWA overall Women’s category (Megan Burton), 3rd in the SWA overall Men’s category (Louis Morris), 1st in the SWA Wave Series (Louis Morris), 1st in the SWA Freestyle series (Louis Morris) and 1st in the SWA team race series.

The Championships also brought together competition with friendly rivalry, with all of teams heading en masse to Dorset’s answer to Lizard Lounge meets-surf-shack (The Lazy Lizard) on the Friday night. Saturday night then witnessed Preston village hall transformed into the ultimate party, as each team’s take on the ‘Olympics’ theme brought together Greek chariot racers, Jamaican bobsledders and ‘Drugs and Alcohol Inspectors’ to celebrate the values established by the ancient Greeks of athleticism, rivalry and alcohol consumption.

Under the crack leadership of Louis Morris, Megan Burton (the newly inaugurated club President), and the rest of the committee, the Windsurfing Club has had a fantastic year, growing in size and reputation. The club (the most affordable watersports club at Bristol) runs regular trips for absolute novices, those nailing forward loops, and everyone in between. We also join other Universities for unbelievably fun SWA events, and have great socials most weeks.

Now under the new committee, the club is set for another year of formidable performance and development, hopefully culminating in an impressive haul of medals at the BUCS National Championships once again in 2016.

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