Festival of sea, wind and surf returns to Hayling for 10th anniversary

IT'S three days of spectacular action on the water.

Wednesday, 9th March 2016, 6:07 am

The National Watersports Festival will be returning to Hayling Island for its 10th year.

From humble beginnings, the festival has gained considerable kudos and now attracts 500 competitors from around the world, cheered on by 10,000 spectators.

Hayling is seen as the birthplace of windsurfing and where, in 1958, 12-year-old Peter Chilvers is credited with inventing the sport.

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This year’s event will be going back to its roots and focusing on windsurfing, alongside one of the world’s fastest growing sports, stand-up paddle boarding.

Hayling councillor Andy Lenaghan said: ‘I’m delighted that it’s in its 10th year.

‘It’s a wonderful event for the island and attracts a lot of visitors.

‘A lot of people try the sport for the first time. The coverage is worldwide now.’

The festival takes place over the weekend of September 2 to 4.

This week marks the six-month countdown and preparations are already well under way.

There will be breathtaking action on the water, ‘have-a-go’ taster sessions, demo testing, live music, night-time flood-lit displays, parties, food and drink stalls and, new for this year, family-focused activities.

Event director Allan Cross said: ‘When we started this event a decade ago we didn’t know how many people would attend and what the reaction would be like but from the first festival the NWF has exceeded all our expectations.

‘To attract the record number of competitors we do and the crowds, in their thousands, that the event pulls in is testament to the special event that this NWF has become.

‘This year we want to deliver a weekend that raises the bar on previous years and we’ve got a number of things up our sleeve that will make this a must-attend event for both competitors and spectators alike.

‘Our thanks, as always, go to Havant Borough Council for their unwavering support and the residents of the island who are always incredibly welcoming and support the event in so many ways.’

In the pipeline is live music throughout the weekend – day and night.

Allan added: ‘There are events for all ages and experience and even a number of fancy dress heats, where competitors can simply disguise themselves if they’re not very confident on their board.’