HUNDREDS of people flocked to the beach for a kite-surfing festival.
The Virgin Kitesurfing Armada Festival returned to Hayling Island for the fifth time with this year’s event seen as the biggest and best so far.
Families, spectators and keen sportsmen descended to the waterfront over the weekend ready to catch the waves and soak up the sun.
Launched in 2013 by Sir Richard Branson, the event has grown and, new for this year, people could enjoy live music on a stage next to the beach.
Brothers Jamie and Liam Nelson, from Waterlooville, have been going to the festival for the past three years.
Jamie, 25, said: ‘I have been doing kite-surfing for a number of years and this festival is the main event for us on the calendar.
‘It is great to see everyone who loves the sport come together and have a good time. Hayling is fantastic for watersports and I don’t think people realise how lucky we are with the conditions.’
Simon and Sam Richards, from Southsea, were at the three-day event with their children Emily, seven, and Miles, three. Sam said it was a great way to spend the weekend.
She added: ‘The kids have never seen kite-surfing before and Emily particularly enjoyed watching it.
‘For us as a family, it is great to be outdoors and on the beach.
It is great to see everyone who loves the sport come together and have a good time.Jamie Nelson
‘I like the fact the festival is free and everyone is so friendly.’
Emily said: ‘I liked watching the kite-surfing from the beach. It looked fun.’
People from all across the country attended the festival and the organisers said they want to attract a range of visitors by putting on the live music and different activities.
They offered camping for people travelling down and this year, all the spaces sold out.
Dan Charlish, event director, said: ‘Each year we have tried to do new things for the festival to grow it from where it started to where it is today.
‘We decided to add live music across the two days and it was great seeing people and families sitting on the lawn enjoying the music.
‘Adding the stage made it feel like a festival.
‘As the event has grown, we get a broad range of people coming along to enjoy it.’
Dan added the Virgin Kitesurfing Armada Festival was a great way to showcase what Hayling Island has to offer.
‘Hayling has world-class watersport conditions,’ he said. ‘It’s a great place for us to host the festival and if we can encourage more people to come down here then that’s great.’