We featured Josie Robinson in our Introducing feature in issue #32 in April to fire up the competitive desires in all weekend warriors. At 29 she has a day job like the rest of us and, having fallen in love with kiting, is keen to get more regular girls and guys to enter events and to show how much fun they can be. We will be following Josie as she does the BKSA Amateur tour and files her reports from the front line.
This is her first report from Walney Island, Barrow-in-Furness in Cumbria at round two in June:
After round one at Watergate Bay was called off back in April, I was really looking forward to round two at Walney Island in Barrow, Cumbria. My sister and I hired a car and drove up on the Friday. It took about eight hours from my home on the Isle-of-Wight after a few wrongs turns on the way! As we got closer it kicked in how beautiful it is up there! I probably wouldn't ever have come up here to kite if I wasn't doing the BKSA tour, so that's a bonus already!
On Saturday morning, registration was at 8.30-9am. The riders briefing took place at 10am where they explained the plan for the day, the order they would run the categories and how the competitions would work. In short, there are a maximum of three riders in each heat, and you have seven minutes to do as many tricks as you can, in a box roughly 100 metre wide that is normally marked by buoys in the water, or two flags on the beach with two buoys on the sea so you can see how far out you can go. Only tricks landed in the box count, so you have to keep a good eye on where you are in the competition zone.
At the briefing they always run through how the heats will run. Each heat runs straight after the next and there is a flag system, so you know when you are up and you know on the water when your heat starts/finishes.
Let me explain quickly how it works...
Three minutes before the start of each heat a red flag goes up, then with one minute to go before the start, the red flag comes down so no flags are flying. At the start of the heat a green flag is raised, then with one minute to go before the end of the heat the green flag is lowered, so no flags are up. Then, at the end of your heat the red flag goes up and that starts the transition in to the next heat. It goes on like that all day until all the heats/finals are done! So you have to keep a good eye on what is going on when on the water!
The competition started at 11am so everyone started pumping up their kites and getting changed and ready. When I had pumped up my kites, I went to check out the heats with my friend Sheryl, who also competes in the amateur ladies. We had to check things like which colour rash vest we needed to wear and what time we were on. We were both in the same heat with three other girls in the other heat. I went back to the car, got changed, had a drink and a quick snack before going out for a quick kite before the heat to warm up. The wind was so so light and my biggest kite is an 11 metre and I could barely do any tricks because I was so under-powered. But it was the same for everyone else.
Sheryl and I went out on the water about five minutes before our heat and then when the red flag went up after the heat before ours, we knew we had three minutes to go until the start of our heat.
I felt much calmer than at Littlehampton last year. I was so nervous then, probably because I didn't really know anyone, but you make friends quickly and, once you get to know the other girls/guys you compete against, it makes it loads easier! I just tried to kite the best I could and just pretended I was at my home spot just doing my thing and having a good time. At the end of the day we're all out there because we love it and competing should be the same!
Sheryl and I both struggled doing tricks in the light wind. Seven minutes is a short time, but when you're out there sometimes it can feel like such a long time, and it's actually really tiring even though it is not long at all! You know you just have to do trick after trick and get in as much as you can. I had learnt some new tricks in Egypt the week before the comp but didn't feel confident enough to try them in the heat, so just played it safe and did back loops, front loops, jumps and back loop/jump transitions. With the cross-shore wind it was really hard to stay upwind and in the competition zone, so we all had to do a run up the beach once or twice to stay in the box!
The pros commentate for the amateurs and during my heat I could hear Lewis (Crathern) call me 'Josie hang-time Robinson' and 'Jumping Josie' which was a massive compliment coming from Lewis because he does some huuuuuge and very high kite loops! It's really good to hear encouraging things like that, even though what we do is pretty basic compared to the moves they are pulling! I ended up winning the heat, which I was really happy about, although Sheryl is a good mate so felt a bit bad but I guess that's how competitions roll, and I know she will beat me sometime! So I went straight through to the final along with the girl who won the other heat.
Sheryl and the two girls that lost the other heat went in to the losers final to determine who would take the third slot in the final. Sheryl ended up winning that so we met again in the final! We had a few hours until the final so I got changed, had something to eat, and just chilled and chatted to people. It was such a nice sunny day so was cool just hanging out on the beach.
By the time, the final took place the wind had picked up quite a lot, to 20+knots. I went out on my 9 metre to check I had chosen the right size, but I was nicely powered, so all good! My 9m F-One Bandit is such a beast - loads of extra power on demand but at the same time has loads of depower - I love it! There was a real sense of adrenaline on the water with everyone getting ready for their final. After about ten minutes I came back in to check which colour rash vest I needed and put it on. I went out for another kite about 15 minutes before the final and the conditions were great! I love doing big jumps and the waves/kickers were perfect for timing it off a wave. I was having such a great time practising and got carried away, almost forgetting that I was just about to compete. My friends on the beach later told me how I should have just been cruising and playing safe. I guess they have a point and maybe next time I should save it for the final! I actually think I kited a bit too much because I suddenly started feeling quite tired.
So anyway, the three of us went out for our final, and hit it. I didn't try any of the new moves I had learnt the week before because it was so choppy and it was quite hard finding a nice take-off spot for a railey. I was focussed on landing stuff, so ended up doing my usual tricks, and playing it safe again! Looking back, I wish I had just gone for a couple of things in the last minute anyway. I will do that at the next event. So when our seven minutes were up, we got off the water and I was met by my sister and mate James. I was pretty shattered and a bit annoyed for getting tired before the final but I reminded myself it was only my second comp, but I've learnt my lesson for next time!
The BKSA officials usually tell you the results within 10 minutes after the heat has finished, but this time they decided to wait until the whole competition was over so we just had to be patient! We went back, packed up our kites and got changed. The whole competition finished soon after and the results were announced: Rebecca got first, I got second, and Sheryl, third. That night there was a wicked party, I think we all had a few sherbets and it was good to meet the other riders.
The next day (Sunday) after quite a big night at the party, we found out there was a briefing at 11am and the organisers had decided to run a 'best trick' competition just for fun, in heats that would last 20minutes! So the idea was we just had to do the best tricks we could and the best trick you did during that whole 20 minutes counted, with the pros judging.
There were mixed feelings to start with, mainly because we had all had a few too many drinks and not a lot of sleep! But actually, speaking with a bit of experience on this matter, kiting usually fixes hangovers, so I was really up for it, as was everyone else! It was really good fun. We went out with the senior men and just rode around for 20 minutes and busted the best tricks we could. It was quite cool having so much time out there and knowing that you had time to recover from a trick if you didn't land it. I would love to do this kind of competition more. Pretty shattered afterwards though! The lack of sleep and the many drinks started to kick in again!
The pros also did the 20 minute free-ride which was called an 'expression session' - not competing, more of a show for everyone on the beach, and it was pretty cool to see what they can do.
The prize giving took place at 4pm. I was happy to have finished second and it was wicked to finish on the podium! The top three in each category were called up and given a bag of goodies, photos were taken and the pros were awarded a nice cheque! (Must do pros next year!) Sheryl won the best trick comp with a F-16 (unhooked back loop kite loop) ? nice work buddy! Fully deserved. Then we all said goodbye and headed home!
I'm still quite new to the competition scene and have a lot to learn but even after just doing two comps, I now feel that I am learning more each time and am more aware of what is happening in the heats and finals... and when I am in the competition zone! So hopefully I can do better at round three in Hunstanston on the weekend of 4-6 July. Hopefully see you there!
It would be really great to see more chicks at the events! It is such a good laugh and so wicked to meet other like-minded people. if anyone has any questions about anything then please email me and I'll be happy to help, or even if you just wanna say hi and talk about kiting, then please get in touch!
For more on BKSA events, head to: www.kitesurfing.org
We kick off a new series dedicated to anything and everything to do with issues in kiteboarding for girls, from technique, to kit tests, to what not to wear! Check it out in the issue #34, out very soon!
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