Monday 12 December 2011

2011 Personal Review Part 2 - The National Windsurfing Festival

Around April time Allan Cross invited me to the National Windsurfing Festival to organise the charity element. This is the first of many thanks in this article, Allan I really want to thank you for the opportunity to do this and hope to be able to help with the W4CR part next year.  He told me that the previous year was really successful with a raffle for Help the Heroes. This was co-ordinated by Gavin Nicholson and his girlfriend (and soon to be wife - congratulations to the pair of you, Kat and I wish you all the best for your future and we will see you this weekend at your wedding reception) with the help of the Army, Navy and Air Force windsurfing teams. They had one hell of a team to raise money, I only had Kat to help before Gavin and Emma offered their assistance.

Initially I had ideas to do a healthy eating stand with oat, nut and fruit bars to sample and a recipe for the cost of £1. I had many other ideas as well but of course on August the 1st I ended up in hospital and spent the majority of August in and out of the place for tests, consultations and long waits. I was really worried that I would not be able to do anything, and maybe not even go to the festival. 

About half way through August Gavin got in touch with me after hearing what had happened from some friends at my local beach where we all launch (or used to until they doubled the parking prices). He offered his help and the expertise of Emma, who has worked for various charities as part of her working life. They really saved the day, Kat was exhausted after looking after me for a few weeks, travelling to and from Poland with her son and holding down a 42hr per week job as a carer at a local nursing home. We could not have done this without them and this is the first of many thanks to them throughout this article.

Probably the Best windsurfing shop, they were
very generous and donated a lot of prizes.
As the day approached I went into my local shop, Windtek, and begged for some prizes. Nick (the old manager who had left) had promised something for months but had never got round to it. Simon who has taken over sorted me out with all sorts of goodies including; Harness Lines, Clothing, Uphaul rope, a bouyancy aid, and best of all a Harness. I thought this was really generous of Simon and it was such a shame that he couldnt actually be there at the fesitval to enjoy the weekend with us. I bought the raffle tickets, dug out my lockable money box and tried to think what else we needed, I was still on very very strong painkillers so this took a fair bit of thinking and a lot of trying to remember what I was thinking about.

Ma and Kat, Finally the stall started to look good with many prizes.

Kat finished work at 2pm on the Friday, I had just finished loading everything apart from the kitchen sink into the van and we were all set. We arrived at about 5pm on site at Haylng Island. All the tents were up, all the manufacturers and distributors were setting up their nice shiny new toys on their stands and we were shown to our tables. We were given 4 tables that were about 2m long,........ 8m of display space for the prizes Windtek had donated, along with the DVD's and Tricktionary book that I donated myself.

We did not know how to spread out about 10 items into so much space, but Gavin and Emma reassured us that other people would donate. We got everything we could organised and went for an early-ish night. I was still in the early stages of recovery so was already felt and looked tired, and many people reminded me of this over the weekend.

Kat, Nick Baker, Marcilio Browne and Emma.
 I dont know who was more excited to have their 
pics taken with these two, the girls or us lads!
Me, Nik Baker, Marcilio Browne, Gavin
On Saturday morning we rushed around to all the exhibitors and begged for prizes to be donated. Some were a lot more generous than others and I will mention everyone who I know donated (sorry if I have missed anyone out). After Windtek, Nik Baker and North/Fanatic donated the best prizes, or at least this particular prize was one nearly everyone wanted. It was a North XT extension. Dave Gollick and had the next best prize in the form of a very good looking fin (I secretly hoped that Kats family who bought some tickets would win that and have no use for it, alas they won a tshirt). Spartan Westuits donated a few bits including a hat, and some winter gloves. The OTC donated a taster session (Thanks Tris) which ironically was won the the Navy's windsurfing instructor, and Jem Hall also offered a clinic afternoon for sometime in 2012 (Thanks Jem). Jay (J-SUP) Manning offered a lot of his time and gave SUP lessons in return for a donation to our raffle, this was great and I think really successful (Cheers Jay!). Other distributors/exhibitors gave tshirts, caps and small prizes. Most people there gave something, one stand were quite rude when Emma asked for a donation, its fine not to donate however being rude is out of order. I must say thanks again to Emma and Gavin for running around asking for these donations, they knew what to do and had done it before. To be totally honest I was already worn out with all the excitement about 20minutes after starting the day.

Dave Gollick and
I think this stand made me drool the most.....
until I saw the new Simmer boards

The day wore on, I wore out but enjoyed every second of it. It was great to meet people from forums who knew what I was doing and chatted to so many different people throughout the day. We did the work collecting money for raffle tickets in shifts which allowed us to enjoy the festival as well. The races were great and I was simply jealous of everyone getting out on the water, and Kat was sick of me saying 'do you think I would be ok if....'.
One day I will go on one of Peter Harts clinics

Jem Hall teaching us about an 80's Karate Kid move
It was great to meet some of the more famous windsurfers, and even better to hear that some had come across my 1000nmi challenge online. One moment sticks in my mind. The great Peter Hart was announcing the start of the races and chatting to me in between, asking about my recovery and the 1000nmi. Through his DVD's I learnt to windsurf, and I know he was in recovery himself following a very bad infection in his leg. I think his positive attitude really gave me more energy for the weekend. By the middle of the first day I had realised I could not return to work as a teacher yet (it was the end of the school summer holiday, I had spent the whole time in the belief that I would be back at work as normal), each person that wished me well spurned me on for a bit longer.
This years UKWA Slalom champ Ant Baker
The party on the Saturday night was great, live music and around 400 people who all shared the same passion. The atmosphere was better than anything I had ever experienced, of course  by this time after such a long day I looked like death warmed up and half a pint of lager did nothing to improve that. It was the first drink I had since starting the medication just over a month before. It was interesting and possibly the most pissed I have ever been at a cost of less than £2. The girls looked amazing and I know they really enjoyed the evening. I think the following morning I was the only person without a hangover, people arrived a lot later than the first day. All day there were people in wetsuits looking quite the worst for wear, and most of them were happy to comment that they were feeling a little delicate.

Top Prize winner collecting his North XT Extension

It was terrible weather rain wise, but we had wind on the Sunday compared to a frustrating almost planing wind on the Saturday. By the middle of the afternoon we were ready to do the draw, we wanted to get the winners up on the notice board ready for the final prize-giving ceremony for the competitors in the main tent. One lady won several prizes, and that included 2 of the bigger ones which were fortunately a ladies harness and a small buoyancy aid.
The winner of the 'biggest' prize had already left the event and I managed to arrange to meet him on his holidays when he passed through Weymouth. I had to do a cheesy prize hand over photo as can be seen to the right. It was great that so many people were genuinely happy with their winnings. The final couple of prizes I gave out at Weymouth Speed Week when I met up with a couple of the competitors.

I want to say a final thank you to Gavin and Emma who gave up their festival experience to help us over the weekend, it was great to have the support and we could not have done it without them. We raised a total of £580 at the festival, and had a weekend that really made the summer a memorable and happy time after what happened a month previous.

To end this and put the whole 1000nmi challenge behind me now I will state the final amount as £1600 (the justgiving site will run until the end of the year and hopefully a few people more will donate). I pledged that I would match the money with a nautical mile for every £1 raised. This I have come close to but stopped posting the tracks after the 1000nmi, I hoped to go on to 2011 to match the year but the illness stopped that. It was a great year for windsurfing, with a lot more wind than every other year since I started in 2005. The only reason I have done so well and completed all my goals is due to having the support from Kat. Without her I would not have survived my heart attack let alone gone on to complete this. Thank you Kat, I love you more than I can ever show.

This website will now be a lot more focussed on general windsurfing news for all to read, since doing the West Kirby articles and seeing the amount of interest they have generated I know it will be worthwhile. I hope you have enjoyed reading about my exploits doing the 1000nmi challenge, and I thank every one of you who donated to help me get to £1600.

Final thanks must go to a few of the Portland Pirates team; Pete, Norm, Swags, and Kev. You really helped me through the year, without you on the water I would not have been able to push myself as hard as I have. Watching you all has moved my windsurfing on many levels, after ending last year with the odd 30knot peak I am now ending this year with 35+ peaks. I promise I will be there next year to back you up more for the less desirable categories in the GPS team challenge such as distance.

Good speed and winds
Lea, apparently now known as 'The Bus' ;-)

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