…at round one of the Student Windsurfing Association wave tour, in Cardiff last weekend. Dan Lytton has the full story:
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Round 1 of this year’s hotly anticipated SWA Wave Series came at its oldest venue and home of main sponsor Puravida, South West Wales. The competition is expected to be fiercely contested this year, with a number of riders stepping up to compete in the BWA (British Wavesailing Association) Series over the last year. Puravida Team Rider and Cardiff Student Jony Price fought off stiff competition from other SWA Riders including Southampton’s Ben Page and Exeter Falmouth’s George Simmonds to take the crown in double overhead conditions in Cornwall and be named BWA 2013 Amateur Wave Champion. In other words – we now have a pro-rider to compete with!
Jim Brooks-Dowsett, founder of Pura Vida, was out in force as usual, helping Cardiff University organise the event and lend his expertise to choose the prime locations. Trecco, Newton and Rest Bay in Porthcawl as well as Whitesands and Newgale in Pembrokshire were all lined up as potential spots for the competition to light up.
The 60 plus members of the SWA arrived in Cardiff on the Friday night and were given their goodies by the Cardiff Committee at the usual haunt of Koko Gorillaz before settling into the hosts houses-for about 10 minutes-and invading a funny spelt nightclub that us uncultured English folk just called Welsh Club. Cheap alcohol, outrageous dancing and loose morals soon followed.
Saturday came, hangovers were cleared with the usual of Red Bull and bacon sarnies, but unfortunately the wind didn’t. Some headed off to paintball kindly organised by Cardiff University, whilst those who were not fancying having welts pelleted on their arse in close-to-bitterly-cold conditions packed up the surf boards and made convoy to Llanland Bay, then Rest Bay.
With a mixture of surfboards and SUPs kindly leant to Ben Page by RRD, we had a really nice long chilled surf behind a sunny backdrop and stayed out in the waves right until the sun went down. We all headed back to Cardiff, via Burger King (did you know they do a 2200 calorie ‘Football Special’ for less than a tenner – bargain!) to laugh at the paintballer’s bruises and hit the Student Union in true SWA fashion! The fancy dress theme was Charity shop chic but because we’re not all as edgy as our sail-less, Ben Howard listening, wax-loving compatriots we looked way more like hobos. At least everyone kept hold of their bowels.
The wind-gods were prayed to but clearly someone has smited them because Sunday was more of the same. The Cardiff committee came up with ‘a never thought of before idea’ for a Sunday lie-in. Whichwas great. But eventually we all guided our way through the gypsies of the caravan park without getting anything stolen and hit Trecco, hoping for something there, before running in defeat to Rest Bay for some more guaranteed swell and safer surroundings.
On arrival, Jim was joined by PWA Wavesailing legend and Tabou/Gaastra/Vandal representive Ross Williams. Vandal have joined the SWA team to become the most recent and an exciting sponsor of the Wave Series. Their new 4-batten student-affordable, high performance wave sails were shown off to us by Ross and Jony Price, a Vandal Team Rider himself in a clinic that included kit choices for all levels of sailors, and an encouraging chat on getting into competitions without the fear factor that is wrongly installed on wave events. Jim and Ross were also on hand all afternoon with their expertise to help answer individual questions from a long line of students.
After this, we all returned to the water with a number of different Vandal SUPs supplied by Ross. I was really surprised and impressed how well the inflatable SUPs worked in the waves and we again stayed out till dark.
With the weekend drawing to a close, we all headed back to Cardiff to the Pura Vida shop, with a number of students taking advantage of the SWA deals on to pick up some windsurf parts, new winter wetsuits and even a Vandal sail.
The next wave event is on 24th-26th January in Rhosneigr, home of the BWA Wales competition and an incredible location, so get your practice in over Christmas, after all who wants to go to Granny’s when you could hit the water with that balding local guy from your nearest beach? There will also be another clinic on how to get out and catch waves, how the heats work and how wave scoring works at this event.
For your diaries, the final wave event will be the Plymouth/Exeter run event in Cornwall on 14th-16th February, with a number of hosts prepped to give any visitors a run for their money. Exeter riders Jo Wright, Rachael Ince, George Simmonds, Dan Lytton and Alex Powell have all been getting BWA experience under their belts in the last year. A clinic has also been promised on jumps, tricks and how to build a score, so hopefully everyone will be well-practiced and full of wisdom ready for the summer and next year’s BWA series.
The event was definitely a success and great fun despite a lack of wind, so a massive thanks from the SWA to Cardiff University for their hosting, and Jim and Ross for their support and expertise.