Whilst the Centaur King of the Wind provided a platform for some of Europe’s top male freestylers, the Queen of the Wind showcased the talents of some of the British female freestylers. Once such competitor was Tushingham rider, Jo Wright, who after the event caught up with the other female freestylers that took on the competition.
Thanks to Amy Carter and Flow – For Ladies Of Windsurfing, there is a very positive feeling surrounding women’s windsurfing in the UK at the moment; we are certainly growing in force!
A few weeks ago I headed to Gwithian for the BWA event where we had 16 female competitors, which was great to be a part of! I then travelled down to Weymouth for the Queen of the Wind EFPT event. Adam Sims and Sam Burnett of XPLG decided to run a ladies competition too, securing sponsorship from Austrian clothing company ‘Femipleasure’.
In the week before the event we only had four female competitors, but some last minute facebook and email rallying, brought the number up to seven by Saturday morning. Unfortunately wind and light limitations meant a full female event couldn’t be run but we did sneak out for a cheeky expression session on Sunday, which we all came in smiling from.
The biggest thing that struck me in the run up to and during this event, is that as a female windsurf competitor you do not need to be pulling off aerial moves; far from it. There are many ladies out there that are more than capable of giving freestyle competition a cheeky dabble, (Yes I mean you!).
So the idea behind this article is to break down some of the common misconceptions associated with female freestyle competition and talk about future opportunities to get involved in.
Firstly lets take a look at the ladies who competed at the Queen of the Wind.
- Seven female competitors
- Aged from from 14 – 28
- Local spots including Hayling Island, Exmouth, Torpoint and Notts county.
- Occupations ranging from student to Events manger.
Ladies what freestyle moves are you pulling off at the moment?
Lara: Heli-tacks, downwind 360s, duck gybes, carve gybes, chop hops and seriously comedy vulcan attempts!
Alex: Chop hop, carve/duck gybes, heli-tack and body drag.
Danielle: Spock variations, grubby, switch chaco, clew first puneta, downwind 360, upwind 360, jumps, duck gybe, push tack, heli-tack.
Ina: Carve gybe, duck gybe, chop hop, tack, heli-tack (in light winds on big gear), sail 360, splits haha, switch stands, clew first, 3/4 of a downwind 360…so maybe a 240?
And what are we aiming to crack in the near future?
Ina: Proper downwind 360, backwind gybe, duck tack, forward loop, vulcan (probably further future!).
Emily: Hopefully by the end of next year I will have got the vulcan and begun trying some geckos
Julia: Downwind 360s in the straps and vulcans!
Why did you enter the EFPT at Weymouth?
Julia: To support the girls and to show you don’t have to be a top freestyler to enter, carving moves are enough or just trying new moves gets you points! Plus, it’s great to get on the water with more girls
Emily: It looked like a fun event and an amazing opportunity to me.
Why do you think other women should enter UK freestyle events next year?
Lara: It’s great fun, with lots of support and competing makes you push yourself and try nutty moves harder than you have done before. You meet some great people and I guarantee you will come in from your heat smiling – no matter how it went!
Alex: All the girlies are super friendly and nice. It’s a great opportunity to get some hints and tips from the others and it really will improve your windsurfing. And the parties are always really good fun…
Ina: Because I want to get to know you all! The best part about the weekend was to get to know more women who are keen on windsurfing. So now we can go for a sail together, which is great, as you normally always only meet guys at windsurf spots. I really love the atmosphere amongst all the windsurf ladies down here in the UK! Everyone is so keen to just get on the water together and have a fun time windsurfing. Competition sounds quite serious, but it really is totally relaxed and more about just meeting more girls, go for a sail together and learn from each other. So get involved!
Danielle: Freestyle is not only for boys but so many girls are put off thinking they are not good enough, freestyle to me is about messing about, trying something different; whether it’s sailing on one leg, clew first, jumping, or just carving it up, it’s about trying new stuff and having a good time. The aerial moves are hard to achieve but it’s not impossible and by getting out and trying new stuff you can work towards it if you want to, but the carving tricks look just as cool if not better. By getting girls out together it’s more encouraging to try new stuff, and you have others around to ask questions if you are not sure where to start or what to do next!
Biggest tip for improving your windsurfing:
Danielle: Sail with others, ask for advice when trying new skills and locations, and don’t be afraid to go and get some coaching. Sometimes the simplest tip can change everything for the better. Coaching helps you learn new things, it can help you to learn to self-assess your mistakes, and also gets you sailing with others who may be better than you or may be passionate to be as good as you, which can help push you and allows you to help encourage others too.
Emily: Enjoy it and get out on the water whenever you can
Ina: Always try. Ignore these (really reasonable seeming) thoughts that you could not possibly do a certain move. You don’t know until you have tried. And if you do fail you still make a step forward! Because now you know what you have done wrong so you can work on it and do it better next time.
Julia: Don’t be afraid to try something new and make the most of whatever the conditions are, every time you go out you WILL improve!
The biggest message we all want to portray across to other female windsurfers out there is that female freestyle events are FUN, relaxed and a great way to improve. From the events I have been a part of, the ladies tend to decide how and when our heats are run (would we want it any other way!?). Another problem that all competitors are faced with is when a job involves nine hour days, five days a week, which means it is hard to then commit to spending the whole weekend at an event. However, as my boyfriend, Josh put it very aptly: “Spending the weekend on a beach, blasted by fresh air and having a great time with lots of like minded people definitely gives you the best chance of turning up to work on Monday morning with a big smile on your face!”
Just incase you needed any more persuasion, remember UK female windsurfing competitions are:
- Have a great social side, whether that be laughing about the days events at the pub or partying away.
- You don’t need to be pulling off lots of moves: a carve gybe and a tack will do nicely!
- They make Monday mornings much more bearable.
- And finally we can’t wait to meet you all and make women’s competitions bigger and better in 2013!
Excitingly in 2013 Sam Ross is also planning to hold some Ladies freestyle weekends aimed at getting lots of females on the water, improving their windsurfing and having a good laugh (he leads a hard life!)! So stay tuned to www.sam-ross.co.uk for more information as these weekends will provide the perfect stepping-stone to competing at an event!
I look forward to seeing you on the water and hopefully at an event soon!
Jo is sponsored by Tushingham/Starboard, Sam Ross Windsurfing and Exeter University.
If you have any questions please email firstname.lastname@example.org
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