National Watersports Festival attracts thousands to Hayling Island

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THOUSANDS of people packed out a sunny Hayling Island this weekend to watch windsurfing, kitesurfing, stand up paddleboarding and kayaking.

Around 600 people took part in watersports competitions, at the seventh annual National Watersports Festival held on the beach, near to the Inn on the Beach pub.

Windsurfers taking a break from the competition at the National Watersports Festival on Hayling Island

Windsurfers taking a break from the competition at the National Watersports Festival on Hayling Island

As well as the competitions, there were scores of stands selling sports related ware, free taster sessions as well as food drink and drink vans, which were doing a busy trade from the 7,000 spectators.

Organiser Alan Cook said: ‘It is very, very good this year. The wind has been a bit light but everybody seems to be having a great time. The youngest competitor is eight years old and the oldest is 81. There’s lots of happy, smiling faces so it can’t be that bad.’

Students from South Downs College were gaining valuable experience by stewarding and marshalling the event.

Public services lecturer Lee Hunt said: ‘It’s been a massive learning curve for the students in terms of dealing with the general public. It’s a fantastic opportunity for them.’

Hayling Island resident Anne O’Hare was making the most of the event and the beautiful weather.

Anne, 73, said: ‘It is brilliant. I saw it all last year and I think it is wonderful, especially for the young people who can take part.’

Niels Dakin, from Farnborough, made a special trip with his family to his caravan on the Hayling Island Holiday Park, especially to see the event.

Niels, 46, said: ‘I think it is brilliant. I came one year and it was really windy, when we saw the weather forecast, that’s why we came this weekend, to watch the racing.’

The event carries on into tonight, with night racing until 10pm. When the racing finishes an after party will be held on the beach. Tickets can be bought at the event and cost £25 per person, or £12.50 for Hayling Island residents.

The events carry on into tomorrow with windsurfing starting at 10am, a stand up paddleboarding contest at 10.30am, kayak racing at 1pm and a kite big air competition at 3pm.

Competition winners will be announced at 4pm.

Go to nationalwatersportsfestival.com for more information.