Best of the Rest
|INTRO – So, with my first season of competition over, finishing third in the BKSA Junior championships…. Time to sit back and relax, certainly not!
I had been steadily getting better results throughout the year in the BKSA competitions and had won the last event at the finals in Blackpool. I knew that I had only missed out on a second place in the championships as a result of a count back and if things had gone better in the earlier part of the year a second overall would have been achievable.
So, back to training. One of the obvious things to do is to keep progressing with learning new tricks and working on style, but, when competing, you often get out into the competition zone in winds that are a bit lighter than you’d like and end up downwind of the comp zone needing to run back up the beach. Aerobic fitness is therefore key to being able to cope with a long sprint upwind. I do a lot of general bar/trick training on a trampoline at home and that is also good for keeping fit and working my legs. I don’t like road running so limit that to fitness training on the beach between sessions.
I like to try to kite in different locations and to ride with kitesurfers from whom I can learn things and in November the opportunity arose to kitesurf at Portland in Dorset.
It was a Flexifoil demo day where Aaron Hadlow was going to be attending so it was great to be able to meet with and get out on the water with him. The wind was a little too light so it was big kites trying to squeeze enough wind to trick. I managed to land one or two tricks and chatting to Aaron about his experiences was great.
December brought about a wetsuit sponsorship deal with Tiki wetsuits who are based in Devon. Their market is primarily with surfers but they had been looking to get into a new market and I was glad to hear from them. I took delivery of two of their new Zepha winter 5/4/3 suits which they had just finished developing. Wow, what a difference to what I had been used to. You can check out their range at www.tikisurf.co.uk. I really had no idea what difference a decent wetsuit could make. I was able to get out on the water in winter and keep trying new tricks. By then I was landing backmobes and back-to-blind air passes.
Fitness was good and I was working on core strength. If you haven’t heard about that or don’t know what it is, it is basically all about ensuring you have a strong torso because the torso is the body's centre of power, so the stronger you are in that area, the better. If you want more information then just Google it.
Sessions on New Years Eve and New Years day saw me into 2012 and in January I was offered a new sponsorship deal with Hampshire Kitesurfing Centre, which is cool because it was Ross who runs the centre who gave me my lessons back in 2009 that got me started on the water.
So the mild winter continued with sessions right through January and, by February, I was landing back-to-blind air passes more consistently and keeping my hand in with sessions at JB Sports cable park in Thorpe Park, as well as at the new 2.0 system at South Coast wakeboarding at Southsea.
The first event BKSA 2012 event was on the weekend of 6 to 8 April was at Clacton on Sea where it was great to meet up with all the event team and the competitors again. The weather over the weekend was a mixture; sun most of the first day-and-a-half with too little wind and then a cold front came in. There was enough wind to run the youth and amateur ladies but none of the other events before the wind died off.
I had also picked up a couple of the new Zepha summer wetsuits from Tiki as the sea temperatures were starting to come up.
I managed to get through to the finals and was up against Tom Bridge and Jordan Hurst. I landed some good tricks, including S-bends-to-blind and blind judges, was out scored by Tom though, but was able to get second place ahead of Jordan.
May was good for me as I was stoked to land a deal with Liquid Force Kitesurfing as a National Team Rider. Within a couple of weeks I had taken delivery of a set of new Nirvana kites to replace my 2011 HiFi Comps and a shiny new 138 LFX board. Boom!
I had talked my dad into getting me to the European Junior Kitesurf Cup (EJKC) in St Pierre La Mer in the south of France in the second week of May. Tom and Jordan were also going over so it was great to meet up with them.
At the event I was to compete in the 14 & 15 age group and all started with the draw. Unfortunately I was drawn against Liam Whaley and Manuel Le Juge. Liam, who as some of you will know, had beaten the current World champion Youri Zoon in the PKRA event in Leucate to take 4th place four weeks earlier! As it happened Liam went on to finish 1st and Manuel, 3rd.
Having been knocked out of the singles in the first round I had to wait to try my chances in the double elimination. However, the usually 'reliable' 'La Tramontane' wind failed to blow and there had already been a lot of waiting around for it to kick in. In the end time and wind ran out and on paper I was officially listed as finishing joint 17th of 24 riders.
Not exactly what I had hoped for as I had spent two days travelling to and from the south of France to have one seven minute heat. You can see the video that I made below:
So, still armed with all my new kit and having had some good sessions since getting back from France I was set for round two of the BKSA championships in Hunstanton over the Jubilee weekend.
At Hunstanton in 2011 I got my first podium finish with a second, so I was looking forward to doing well. However, whilst there was loads to do at the lifestyles event, there was not enough wind to get any of the comps run so points were shared. The only good thing was that as Tom Bridge was not competing at the event, I was then in first place in the standings.
In June after the BKSA were contacted by the BBC, I was involved in a programme for the “Friday Download” about kiting and kitesurfing. It was a great experience and it was good to get some national TV exposure.
The beginning of July started with meeting the current world champion, Youri Zoon, in Poole at the UK Slingshot demo day. It was great to meet him and spend time chatting. Unfortunately he was not able to ride as he had hurt his hand at the PKRA event in Venezuela.
In August I was able to go back to Gokova in Turkey for two weeks training and had a fantastic trip staying with Jordan and his family. The video is now up. We cheekily called it The Young New UK Crew. Tom Court posted on FaceBook that he’d give it no points for an original title but to check it out.
So, midway through the 2012 comp season meant that I was leading the championships with some new tricks in the bag including NIS 5’s, KGB’s and landing backmobes consistently.
The beginning of September brought about a trip over to Wales for the Rhosneigr Park Jam run by Ben Todd. It was great to ride with some riders in the world top 5 on kickers and sliders including Sam Light, Tom Court and fellow Liquid Force rider, James Boulding. Also Jake Kelsick visiting from Antigua, Ali Reader, Ali Barrett Luke Whiteside 2011 BKSA Pro Mens freestyle champion and Dan Sweeney who became the 2012 BKSA Pro Men's freestyle Champion.
The next competition - the first after a training trip in Turkey - was Troon in Scotland on the weekend of September 21st - 23rd. The event was linked in with The Scottish Windfest.
The wind was a bit on and off but there was enough to run the comp and the results hinged on a double elimination between me, Jordan Hurst and Callum Gott. Thankfully I managed to land a kiteloop 3 and a backmobe and managed to win with Jordan in second and Callum in 3rd.
So, first win of 2012 and I managed to pull some more points ahead of Jordan who remained in 2nd place.
Round four was two weeks later in Redcar on the weekend of October 5th - 7th. Whilst it was good weather, the wind wasn’t strong enough for my event although the pros got their results tied up on the Friday. While the weather was warm and sunny most of the time, which caused there to be no wind, there was a huge swell with some great surf coming in so it was an opportunity to get on a long board and catch a few waves. Anyway, as the points were shared I was still standing in first place in the Championships going into the last event at Westward Ho in another two weeks time…
So, the finals at Westward Ho in North Devon were between the 18th and 20th of October 2012. The weather in the week before the event was really windy so I was looking forward to being able to get out on my 9m and be nicely powered. There was a real buzz with all the competitors.
BUT, the wind died off and there was only enough wind in the three days I was there to get the Pro Mens and Pro Ladies run on the Thursday.
I had done enough through the season such that Jordan had to beat me by two places to stop me winning the championships. So, with not enough wind to run my event and having gone into the final event up on points over Jordan Hurst in second place, I was British Youth Freestyle Champion - Stoked!
So from finishing third in the Junior championships in 2011 to British youth champion in 2012. What next? I don’t really know other than the competitors who finished 1st 2nd and 3rd in the Youth championships in 2011 all went on to compete in the pros this year, so we will have to see what happens over the winter. On that point one of those riders was fellow Liquid Force rider Sam Bull who finished this year in 3rd place in the Pro Mens so that was a great result.
I am just waiting for my 2013 kit from my main sponsor, Liquid Force. The 2013 C kite is the HiFi X and I will be riding the 2013 138 LFX.
Thanks this year go to Liquid Force, Hampshire Kitesurfing Centre and Tiki wetsuits and also to my mum and dad for their support and dad especially for running me all round the UK for the BKSA tour and also over to France for the EJKC back in May.
I will write another article soon to let you know how the winter goes…
Cheers for now.
Find George's website at: www.georgeduftykitesurfer.co.uk