Get Competitive

Will Jones joins Boards for the next installment of the SWA Monthly. 

After SWA Nationals I felt a little bit down. Nationals marked the end of another fantastic student windsurfing year and meant having to say goodbye to a lot of good friends.

Pretty quickly however, I realised I was wrong. Wrong to feel down and also wrong in fact that it’s the end of the student year. I had almost forgotten this year the SWA calendar has one more fixture on it; for the first time we have teamed up with Beach Break Live to form part of the Student Extreme Games. This promises to be an awesome event. We will be running freestyle competitions alongside snow sports, wakeboard and kite surf competitions during the day.

Will Jones
Will Jones

Then in the evening, we will be able to see some of the biggest musicians, bands and DJ’s in the world performing live. Epic! On remembering this, my sadness suddenly turned to excitementand I realised I was being ridiculous in the first place. I shouldn’t be sad, just excited about the future.

There are lots of events coming up over the summer where I’ll see all the usual faces again. National Windsurf Festival and Windfest are just round the corner, the BWA/UKWA seasons are already underway and it’s really not that long till Aussie Kiss 11 (I don’t think there is anything wrong with me already being ridiculously excited for Aussie Kiss, even if it’s not until the last weekend of October).

In general I’m stoked for the new SWA year. It’s always great to meet new people and awe-inspiring to see new talent come through. I wonder if at Aussie Kiss 11 we will be as blown away by the freestyle as we were at Aussie Kiss 10. I definitely hope we will be as blown away by the Vass girl’s outfits at Aussie Kiss 11 as we were by their X-rated interpretation.

Nationals overall, were a wicked weekend, truly amazing parties on both nights. The Saturday night boat party in particular never disappoints. All the competitions ran smoothly and I had great fun competing in them. The weekend’s competition in fact led me to a slight epiphany. It was during the freestyle competition that this particular moment of insight hit me, but what I’m about to discuss really applies to any sort of competition or situation where you are challenged to push yourself to sail at your best.

Will Jones
Will Jones

The wind for Nationals had been a bit on the light side overall, Saturday morning had started very light. Thankfully by the afternoon it had picked up a bit and people were on and off getting planing on big kit. There was even about a half hour where a few people took the chance to go out on their freestyle gear, but sadly that didn’t last long.

Sunday started much the same as Saturday, with very light wind. Fortunately, the afternoon’s wind started to fill in just a little bit earlier than the Saturday. The morning’s team racing event was a battle of who could pump onto the plane. By about 1pm, the wind had really started to pick up and it looked like we would have what we needed to get a proper freestyle competition in. Hastily, all those keen to compete ran off to rig their gear and re-group on the beach.

Phil and Danielle from were judging the competition and gave a short briefing on their point scoring criteria. Heats would be eight minutes and points would be awarded for variety and quality of moves, but also to those who didn’t just play safe and went for some bigger moves too, even if they didn’t quite land them. The SWA scoring system aims to encourage as many people as possible to compete and make it as entertaining as possible for the audience, hence the marks for attempting bigger moves.

With that made clear, we were divided into heats and the competition got underway. I was in the first heat which gave me time to do literally one test run out and back to check my kit was all ok before I had to start my heat.

Aussie Kiss 2011
SWA Aussie Kiss 9, by Javier Choi

The megaphone sounded, we were off. I sailed upwind, tacked and came broadreaching at full steam towards where the judges were sat. Flying along, I reached back down the boom, popped the board out of the water, extended my front arm as high as I could, sheeted in hard with my back hand and looked back over my shoulder for a forward. Now, the outcome of this forward is frankly irrelevant (ok I crashed). But my point is, I know if I had gone out just to sail it would have taken me at least 20 minutes to warm up before going for a forward.

I waterstarted out of it and sailed back away from the beach. Knowing I was eating into my eight minutes I immediately found myself going switch and bearing off to pick up speed. Again, in a normal session there would be a fair few moves I would normally try before I started trying anything switch.

The entire eight minute session continued like this. I think I tried a different move on every run, sometimes more than one. After eight minutes of that, I was exhausted. As I collapsed back on the beach to catch my breath I realised that I probably tried as many moves in the eight minute heat, as I sometimes would do in an entire afternoon of sailing.

About 10 minutes later, I was forced to do it again in the next round. The message I am hopefully getting across is that whatever your ability, competition drives you to push yourself. For that reason alone its worth taking part.

I have felt over the last few months that my sailing progression has kind of stalled. I’ve got a selection of moves that I can do well and consistently, and then a few that I can do occasionally but they’re not getting any more consistent.

I have found many excuses to justify my lack of progress; mostly having a job and not getting to the beach as much as I’d like or maybe not having the best possible set up on the day.

  1. Sam_SWA

    Nice one Will! I have serious SWA withdrawal also, we are heading down to Worthing UKWA this weekend if you fancy it – I’m gonna go make a fool out of myself in the amateurs!

    I think who you sail with helps also, I’ve been sailing with a few guys who are a lot better than me recently and it really pushes you to land your next move, Especially when they spend the session shouting “Go Switch”, or “Hands” at you!

    If there is someone of similar standard around I find that helps – friendly competition never hurt anyone…

    1. Beaker

      I agree with Sam and know that when I sail with people better than me I always go for bigger moves in waves.
      What is great about this sport however is that the better people have absolutely no problem giving top tips and encouraging you to try something new. Most people are bursting at the seams with useful tips and love sharing their knowledge. Maybe because everyone can remember just how frustrating those plateaus are and how great it feels to overcome them. I know that if I am at a beach and the wind is not great for me because it has dropped off a little or it turns out the forecasted waves haven’t come through then I would always prefer to get less experienced people out on the water and help them rather than bob around myself… Having said that, I appreciate that a good bobbing session is great practice for getting those quick tacks and gybes ready for when you need to turn and outrun a wave…


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