What a week we’ve just had down in Kernow, the land of the Saints…
When the British Kite Sports Association pulled the plug on the annual “Wavemasters” event with just two weeks notice we felt a bit aggrieved. Sponsorship issues were quoted as being the reason for the last minute change of heart. That left a hard-core crew of UK wave riders with time booked off work and nowhere to go.
I’d personally been planning on entering this year, and had already scheduled some time away from the office to compete. A few phone calls to some of the other riders and it seemed apparent there were going to be some disappointed kiters, myself included, now the event wasn’t due to go ahead.
With just two weeks notice, I put it to the team at IKSURFMAG that we could all volunteer our time, and put the event on ourselves to ensure something happened. Lee Harvey confirmed that we already had the not-so-fun stuff such as risk assessments in place, and that the Kernow Kite Club could cover the event under their insurance.
Let’s just say the next two weeks were filled with deadlines, both IKSURFMAG and our other mag IMB had to be finished, plus the Virgin Kitesurfing Armada filled the only free weekend.
Hectic wasn’t the word, but we managed to find the time to organise an accommodation deal with the excellent Tom’s Holidays Chalets on the Bluff. We purchased various bits of race kit, flags, radios, clipboards and organised prizes from the excellent people at Supersaturated, Manera, Ocean Rodeo, F-One, Brunotti, Blast Kiteboarding, Butta, Core Kiteboarding and Ozone. Special thanks must go out to Ford, who support both IKSURFMAG and IMB throughout the year with the excellent Transit Custom van, and at incredibly short notice provided a new Ford Ranger for the week-long event in order to access all the beach spots and help transport the kit down.
The IKSURFMAG Wave Classic was born in a very short space of time, and it was literally the blink of an eye before we were loaded up and headed to Cornwall for the event. A huge thanks has to go to Lawrence, Rory and Lee from the KKC who were very busy behind the scenes during the two weeks organising permissions with the councils and sorting the rescue cover with the RNLI.
With a mixed forecast and the tail end of Hurricane Gonzalo whipping through the area during the weeklong waiting period we decided to run the Wave Classic over the two best days. The rest of the week the riders would enjoy some free riding and exploring with some impromptu expression sessions thrown in to keep it interesting.
We had organised permissions and rescue cover to run the event at the Bluff, Gwithian, Sandy Acres and Marazion. All of these beaches covered every wind direction and swell to enable us to make the most of whatever the weather decided to dish up.
At 9am on Monday morning we all met at the Bluff Inn for a briefing and a run down as to the weeks action. The forecast was looking favourable for Wednesday and Thursday to run the comp, with lighter winds on Monday and the nuking 45 knots of Gonzalo forecast for Tuesday.
At the briefing all the riders were given a goody bag containing an IKSURFMAG T-Shirt, stickers, can of Red Bull and some Butta Surf Wax. A small touch, which was welcomed by everyone! On Monday we headed to Sandy Acres to see if the wind would pick up enough to run with an expression session.
Sadly we were hit by lots of passing rain, which brought wind that then dropped as the rain subsided. The cycle repeated itself in a teasing manner, we couldn’t run anything official, but I was on hand taking names and watching the action so we could hand out some spot prizes.
Whilst the expression session didn’t get underway officially, we did have all the riders out on the water at the same time and managed to have some fun. Stand out riders were Keira Ridel who scored an absolute banger of a wave, Ned Taylor and Mike Dawson from Exmouth and also Lee Harvey and George Noble.
Tuesday was the day of days for many; incontestable at any of the beaches we had permission for, there was a whisper that a certain spot would be firing. England’s heaviest reef break was said to be rearing its head and all the competitors headed to Porthleven to check it out.
With a ridiculously sketchy launch, and a heavy slab to contend with it’s not a wave for everyone, and plenty of the riders chose to check out the action from the safety of the harbour wall. It was pretty clear that locals Dom Moore, Lee Harvey and James Waters had the run of the place; it is one of their “local spots” after all.
Kudos to everyone who braved arguably the sketchiest launch site that I’ve ever come across and managed to scalp some waves there. After a few hours the tides were rising and the wave was losing its infamous punch. A large crew headed over to Daymer Bay to do battle there, with wind speeds reaching well over 45mph, it was a day for heroes alright!
Wednesday dawned with a plan to run the first day of the comp at Marazion, but with mirror flat water and not a hint of swell we made a last minute call to move to the Bluff which was showing some reasonable size on the sets. The wind took its time, but by midday it was enough to at least get the contest underway.
Ideally we would have liked solid 9m weather for the contest, however, as is often the case with UK conditions, when you need them it doesn’t happen. At times the wind was pumping enough to stay upwind, at others the competitors had to slog it upwind on the beach through the comp area. It was hardly ideal, but with plenty of waves to play on it made sense to crack on as much as possible.
With a Dingle Heat format there were places in the Semi Finals up for grabs as well as a second chance in Round Two. Riders straight into the Semi’s were Lee Harvey, Richard Burton and George Noble from the Men’s fleet and Paul Stebbings, Marc Rowley and Neil Harper from the Senior’s. With just two ladies contesting the women’s title they ran one heat on Wednesday, but wouldn’t find the results from their three planned heats until the prize giving.
With the Thursday forecast looking a lot more promising for wind the riders packed up at the Bluff after the first round as the tide made a decent attempt to engulf the set up on the beach! It was an early night for most ahead of the final day of competition with a diminishing wind forecast for the rest of the week.
Thursday dawned with some decent lines of swell on the horizon and a promising cross-offshore wind at Sandy Acres. The IKSURFMAG crew and RNLI were busy setting up the competition area while the competitors gathered on the dunes to watch the wind build and the waves roll in.
With a first possible start at 10am it was all systems go until a classic bout of the infamous Cornish Mizzle rolled in, killing the wind and dampening the spirits considerably. After a brief spell hiding under the IKSURFMAG tent a few riders headed out to check the conditions, not quite enough to stay upwind, but plenty of sets rolling through.
We ran an impromptu expression session with riders making one run down the huge competition area and scoring as many hits as possible. Standouts were George Noble, Richard Burton, Marc Rowley, Paul Stebbings, and Ned Taylor who was looking incredibly smooth on his back hand.
As soon as the riders started to stay upwind on 12m kites the call was made to get Round Two of the competition underway and seal the final places in the semi finals. In the Senior’s the riders making the grade in the tricky conditions were Richard Gowers, Pete Stephens and Trevor Hale.
The Men’s fleet were making the difficult wind look a lot better than it was, the phrase “up and down like a whores drawers” sprang to mind as heats were black flagged and restarted. It was tough to make the right call to ensure we ran the heats at the optimum time.
Advancing to the semi finals were Mike Dawson, Ned Taylor and Jon Ellman-Brown. Keira Ridel and Sukie Huntley-Robinson unfortunately had their heat black-flagged when Sukie caught a fin to her head. The RNLI team did a great job of patching her up though and Sukie was happy to continue with a bandage and a helmet on.
Sukie had won the heat on Wednesday, but her injury seemed to hold her back a little and it was Keira who impressed in the second ladies heat taking the win. Keira definitely looked more comfortable when the wind was stronger on her backhand. Sukie however was looking great on her front hand, her previous surfing experience showing through. It was going to be a close run thing for the girls!
Throughout the event the Senior’s, Men’s and Women’s heats were mixed around so everyone got similar conditions throughout the event. This meant some riders were waiting around a little, but at least it meant that everyone shared whatever was happening on the day.
As ever with the semi’s it was time for the heats to get tough, with so much talent in the men’s fleet it was going to be tricky. In the Senior’s Neil Harper got a lucky by to the finals as Peter Stephens had headed off after the wind dropped earlier in the day. Paul Stebbings had a tough heat with Trevor Hale, it was black flagged a couple of times as the wind picked up and dropped and Stebbo was seen running up the length of the beach only to turn around and see the black flag on more than one occasion!
In the end Paul went through to the finals with some fluid strapless backside riding. Marc Rowley faced up against Richard Gowers, each with two very different styles. Marc was riding strapped backside, whilst Richard was strapless. In the end it was the fluidity and carving turns that put Marc ahead and into the final.
The Men’s Semi’s read like a who’s who of people you didn’t want to meet in a heat, George Noble was taking on newcomer Mike Dawson, Lee Harvey was up against the seriously impressive Ned Taylor and Rich Burton had Jon Ellman-Brown to contend with. We had a decent spell of wind for the semi’s, which was great, but kite choice still played a part.
George Noble and Mike Dawson had their heat black-flagged when the wind all but disappeared. When it came back it was again up and down and made the conditions tricky. In the end it was a very close run heat with George’s fluid effortless style going up against Mike’s always-impressive aggressive riding. After counting back waves and with a 2-1 judges decision the first semi-final went to an elated Mike Dawson by just half a point.
Next up Lee Harvey, the current champion and local favourite was against Ned Taylor. Ned had been consistently impressive during the week with his smooth backside riding, whilst Lee just seemed to know when and where the biggest waves were at any given moment. In another close heat it looked to be going in Ned’s direction with his consistently peeling wave selection and multiple turns.
In the dying moments Lee turned it up a notch with some aggressive backside riding and a wave 360 that pushed him into the final, just. The last of the men’s Semi’s was between Rich Burton and Jon Ellman-Brown. Jon is a previous winner of the Wavemasters and Rich is a young up-and-comer who had been training hard all year.
Unfortunately for Jon his 10m kite just didn’t quite have the power he needed to really shine. Rich was racking up the points on his 15m Naish Ride and looking overpowered at times. Eventually, despite a sterling effort on a few decent waves from Jon, it was Rich who took the last place in the final.
The hotly contested Men’s final was up next, Rich and Lee opted to ride their biggest kites in the up and down winds, but at the final minute a gust blew through and Lee raced to swap to his 12m North Neo. Mike declined the offer of a borrowed 12m Catalyst to ride his tried and trusted 10m Ozone Reo. Lee had been riding well all week and was instantly going toe to toe with Rich with both of them picking off decent set waves and getting some solid turns in.
Mike looked like he was content with third place and didn’t seem as busy as the other two, no doubt hindered by his smaller kite. He got a few waves on the scoreboard though and did his best to keep in touch with Rich and Lee. The others had the power of the larger kites however, and as the time ticked on it clearly became a two horse race.
Lee had been riding well all week and his dominance showed through in the final. His vertical aggressive turns on his backside, and excellent wave selection sealing the deal for the event. Rich rode well and showed just how much effort he has been putting in lately.
Keira and Sukie headed out for their final heat, fair play to both of them for hanging about on the beach for a good portion of the day and also to Sukie for carrying on despite her injury. Sukie had looked a little shaken in the last round, but her confidence seemed to be back in this one.
In the final Keira struggled for power a little on her backhand, which is always tricky in light winds. Sukie capitalised on the conditions though and with good wave choice and some nice linked turns on her frontside she did enough to take the win…
In the Senior’s final it was Neil Harper, Marc Rowley and Paul Stebbings going head to head. Neil went out on his 9m while Paul chose a 12m, Marc plumped for the lighter winds with a 13m. Once again the wind was to play a crucial factor and whilst it pumped just enough to keep Neil in contention on his 9m it was definitely Marc and Paul who had the advantage.
Paul was riding strapless whilst Marc opted for another strapped assault. It’s always tough to judge the two different styles head to head. In the end no one could argue with the smoothness and stylish turns that filled Marc’s waves. Paul was a close second, but he just didn’t look as comfortable riding strapless on the wave to take the win.
With the judges scores tallied and all the heats finished it was an end to a difficult day at the beach for both the organisers and the competitors. We’d managed to run an expression session and over 16 heats in tricky winds that seemed to promise so much and then drop just when you didn’t want them to.
All the riders and crew headed to the Bluff Inn for the Prize Giving as there was no wind forecast for the last day of the event it was decided this would allow some competitors to make the long journey home to see their families. A final big thanks to the team at the Bluff Inn for making us feel so welcome and to all the people who donated prizes and helped make this event what it was.
The team at IKSURFMAG donated some extra funds to the prize pot adding to the amount taken from the entrance fee to ensure the competitors got a decent reward for their efforts.
At the prize giving every competitor got another goody bag with some Manera Magic Wax (base and top coat), Ocean Rodeo Trucker Cap, Ozone Bottle Opener, Superstaurated and Ozone stickers and another can of Red Bull!
We’ll be planning another with substantially more than two weeks notice next year for sure!
1st Lee Harvey – £200, Brunotti Skateboard + Goody Bag
2nd Rich Burton – £100, Supersaturated Poncho, Sweatshirt, T-Shirt + Goody Bag
3rd Mike Dawson – £50, Mystic Poncho + Goody Bag
1st Sukie Huntley-Robinson – £100, Brunotti Skateboard + Goody Bag
2nd Keira Ridel – £50, Mystic Poncho, Epic Kite Leash + Goody Bag
1st Marc Rowley – £100, 6’4” Manera Board Bag + Goody Bag
2nd Paul Stebbings – £50, Manera Dry Bag + Goody Bag
3rd Neil Harper – £25, Manera Poncho + Goody Bag
Monday’s Expression Session
Winner: George Noble – Supersaturated Package Prize + Goody Bag
Wave Of The Day – Keira Ridel – Butta Surf Wax Package Prize + Goody Bag
Tuesday’s Porthleven Session
Wipeout of the Day – Jon Ellman-Brown – Supersaturated T-Shirt + Goody Bag
Wave Of The Day – Lee Harvey – Supersaturated T-Shirt + Goody Bag
Wipe Out Of The Day – Paul Stebbings – Supersaturated T-Shirt + Goody Bag
Thursday Expression Session
Winner – Ned Taylor – Core Kiteboarding Hoody and T-Shirt + Goody Bag
Wipeout of the Day – Sukie Huntley-Robinson Epic Kite Leash + Goody Bag
Spirit of the Event Award
This was a special award for the entire event that was to go to the rider who seemed to have the best attitude, eagerness to help, and was a good team player. Rich Burton was selected for this by Dom Moore from Ocean Rodeo for numerous reasons and won himself a brand new Ocean Rodeo Drysuit.
Robin Snuggs – Volunteer Judge for the week.
Mary Booth – Beach Marshall
Alex Chater – Flag Man / Marshall
A huge thanks the RNLI Crew who covered the event for us on the days we ran it, they did a great job and were happy to follow us around as the wind and waves changed.
Ian Edmondson kindly came all the way down from up North to document the event, he has loads of images of all the riders so if you want some high res shots from him do get in touch.
Check out the video of the event put together by Kristian Butler from Arthouse Boardsports:
Sadly with a poor wind forecast the decision was made to cancel the planned Big Air competition on the Saturday.
More Information Here: IKSURFMAG Wave Classic
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