Well here I am again. Two years into my campaign, but a campaign for what?
Well it started back in 2011 with seeing how well I would fare having a go at a season in the BKSA Junior championships in that summer. I had a shop rider deal with Airtime Kitesurfing in Hampshire riding Liquid Force gear and was using the 2011 HiFi's and the Influence board with comp straps. I also had a set of cradle bindings. The BKSA juniors is under 16's and I was 14. The whole year was a great experience and by the end of the 2011 season I had managed progress well enough to win the last event in Blackpool which meant that I was able to finish 3rd in the championships.
That whole experience was fantastic and the BKSA crew and all the competitors in every category from the juniors right though to the pros are truly a great bunch of people!
Then to my second year of competition in 2012. This time stepping up to the higher age group for under 19's, the Youth Championships.
After a winter of training in the UK I was working on progressing and learning new tricks and working on style on the tricks that I could already land. In addition I was continuing to work on aerobic fitness. 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.
Over the winter (and to be fair throughout the year) I try to kite in different locations on the basis that you can get too comfortable with your local spot when you know what the wind and tide might do at any time but at a comp, even if you have kited the location before, it is all different so you have to be able to adapt.
I am lucky to continue to have the support of Tiki wetsuits who are based in Devon and their 'Zepha' winter 5/4/3 suits are just brilliant. In the summer I use the 3/2 version. You can check out their range at www.tikisurf.co.uk
In January 2012 I was offered a new sponsorship deal with Hampshire Kitesurfing Centre which was cool because it was Ross who runs the centre who gave me my lessons back in 2009 that got me started on the water.
By the time of the first BKSA event in the 2012 season in Clacton which was early in April, I was comfortable landing Blind Judge 3's, backmobes and back to blind airpasses.
In May I was stoked to land a deal with Liquid Force Kitesurfing as a National Team Rider and then took delivery of a set of 2012 Nirvana's to replace my 2011 HiFi Comps and a shiny new 138 LFX board.
There was a bit of time to get used to the way the kites and the new board handled but that only took a few sessions and then I had a go at my first international event at the European Junior Kitesurf Cup (EJKC) in St Pierre Sur Mer in the south of France in the second week of May. The event is for competitors under the age of 19 who live in Europe. Tom Bridge and my good friend and fellow BKSA competitor, Jordan Hurst were also going over to compete so it was great to meet up with them.
I had a rubbish draw in the first round which put me up against Liam Whaley who a couple of weeks earlier had beaten the then (and now current) World champion, Youri Zoon in the second 2012 PKRA event in Leucate to take 4th place and Manuel Le Juge who was a bit of an unknown, but not for long. Liam went on to finish 1st and Manuel finished 3rd
The usually 'reliable' local wind called 'La Tramontane' failed to blow and there was not enough time to run the doubles so on paper I was officially listed as finishing joint 17th of 24 riders which was not what I had hoped for but I am going to be back there again in May this year to try and do better.
The second BKSA comp was in Hunstanton over the Jubilee weekend but the wind failed to turn up so my event couldn't be run and the points were shared. As Tom was not competing at Hunstanton that got me up to first place in the championships.
Having had the chance to meet and ride with Aaron Hadlow in Portland (UK) in 2011 I could not pass up the opportunity to catch up with Youri Zoon when he was in Poole, Dorset, at the UK Slingshot demo day in the beginning of July. Unfortunately he was not able to ride as he had hurt his hand in the PKRA event in Venezuela but it was good to hang out with him and others for the day.
August brought about the opportunity for a trip to Gokova in Turkey for 2 weeks training with Jordan and I also entered 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, James Boulding, Jake Kelsick and BKSA riders, Ali Barrett, Luke Whiteside and Dan Sweeney. I hope to be back in Rhosneigr again in 2013.
I was pleased to be able to get my hands on the new Liquid Force 2013 C kite, the HiFi X and try out some new boards at the Liquid Force Kiteboarding UK launch at Hayling Island in September.
The next BKSA competition was in Troon in Scotland in late September where I managed to get another 1st on the podium armed with NIS 5's, KGB's, backmobes and kiteloop 3's. Round 4 was in Redcar in early October but once again the wind failed to turn up so again the points were shared but I was still standing in 1st in the Championships going into the last event at Westward Ho! later on in October.
At Westward Ho! I had a nerve wracking time being on 'stand by' for what seemed forever but with the wind only picking up long enough to allow the pro events to be run before the wind died off and so my event couldn't be run so the points were again shared but as I was ahead on points I had won the championships. So there I was, The UK national youth freestyle champion. What a year !!
So back to more winter training and to see what the future would hold, but was I going to be able to get some decent warm water and good wind training in somewhere?
Well not for November and December where it was back to winter wetsuits, neoprene boots, gloves and hoods, but Hampshire Kitesurfing Centre owner and instructor Ross Blainey had other ideas and was trying to organise a trip over to South Africa for January through to March which if it came off would have been great.
Unfortunately this didn't come off and although the alternative of two months in Thailand for February and March nearly did. When Thailand was ruled out my dad made some valiant efforts to get me over to Safety Bay in Perth, Australia with the intention that I would be there through to the end of March. This was on and off and then on and off again. Thanks anyway to the guys at West Oz Kiteboarding for all their efforts.
All my new kit arrived before Christmas so once again there were a few sessions to get used to the way that the kites flew and the boards rode. Thankfully it remained reasonably warm and I managed to get in several sessions right through to the New Year. I soon worked out that for 2013 I was going ride the 139 Element in competition and the 138 LFX in general free riding. Both are great boards and are so much lighter that the 2012 versions but that is now right across the Liquid Force range.
So I started setting my targets for the 2013 season. In January, supported by input from my parents I made the decision to stop attending college and concentrate on kitesurfing full-time. Almost immediately it looked as if my decision was the right one when I heard from Gary Siskar at Liquid Force Kiteboarding HQ who told me that I had been given a position on the Liquid Force Kiteboarding International Support Team. I was buzzin for a whole month which made grinning and bearing the cold weather sessions easier.
So, back to training, but what am I training for ? Well, it's going to be a busy year for me. The BKSA tour at the moment has its first event in June this year and I am waiting for the full schedule to be announced and this year I will be competing in the pros. I am also going to be competing in the PKRA events in France, Germany, Italy and Spain and also the KTE events in France, Germany, Spain and Holland.
Straight after the PKRA event in Leucate, France in April I will be competing in the 2013 EJKC event down the coast at St Pierre La Mer so I will have 'back to back' internationals. I must say a quick thank you to the BKSA for their backing for those events.
So with taking every opportunity to get out on the water through the winter, I have been writing this article in Sharm El Sheikh in Egypt where I have been getting in 3 to 4 sessions a day for almost all of the 2 weeks I have been here which is worth 'months' of kiting back in the UK.
I have been out on all three of my kites that I brought with me, my 9, 11 and 13m HiFi X's and if it were not for weight restrictions at the airport I'd have brought my 7 and I'd have been out on that as well. I have been able to get a whole bunch of new tricks under my belt with double S-bends to blind, Shifty 5's and NIS 5's and also some new toeside tricks including toeside 3's and toeside NIS's, so all has been good so far.
So that's the 2012 winter into 2013 out of the way with spring hitting the UK and the competition season on its way.
I will write another article once I have got my first PKRA, KTE, BKSA and the EJKC under my belt and let you know how I got on?...
Cheers for now
Find George's website at: www.georgeduftykitesurfer.co.uk
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