Hayling Island’s Kitesurfing Armada Festival was back with a bang amid perfect winds and sunshine

EUROPE’S leading kitesurfing and music festival was back with a bang as 15,000 people enjoyed a stunning spectacle blessed by fine weather and winds.

By Steve Deeks
Sunday, 12th September 2021, 5:32 pm
Updated Sunday, 12th September 2021, 6:43 pm

Hayling Island’s Kitesurfing Armada Festival 2021 was back boasting a new bigger site and more exciting music line-up than ever, led by ‘90’s band Dodgy, despite fears it may never return to its former glories.

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Playing host to the British Kitesurfing Championships, the event from Friday to Sunday saw a host big names from the ever-growing world of kitesurfing.

Kitesurfing Armada Festival at Hayling Island

Professional kitesurfer Lewis Crathern was ambassador for the event that saw five-time world champion Aaron Hadlow and fellow world champion Katie Evans win the overall championships in the men and women’s tournaments respectively.

Organiser Angus Chilvers said: ‘Due to Covid we did worry the event may never come back to what it was and we would lose support but it has been brilliant. Havant Borough Council have been amazing with their help.

‘The event has been positioned on a different location to the last one we had in 2019 and is far bigger and better.

‘We’ve had big surfing brands here and professional and amateur kitesurfers. The wind was brilliant on Friday and Saturday and meant we were able to get through the whole championships then with the surfers showing all their tricks.

Kitesurfing Armada Festival at Hayling Island

‘Lewis Crathern was performing his tricks and tips about 30ft in the air with a microphone on. The beach was rammed with everyone enjoying the show.

‘The music festival was a really nice atmosphere with lots of local people turning up for that in the evening.’

Andy Gratwick, of the British Kitesports Association, said: ‘The wind was great and it’s been the best we’ve ever had in Hayling from a spectacle point of view with everyone able to watch it. There was a few thousand on the beach watching at times.

‘It has been a boost to the sport which will now be an Olympic sport in Paris 2024.’

Kitesurfing Armada Festival at Hayling Island. Pictured: Neil Andrews, Toni Ashmore, Mark Andrew and Ruth Bardsley Picture: Habibur Rahman

Renowned brands including Duotone, North Kiteboarding and Cabrinha attended the festival to demonstrate the very latest kitesurfing equipment.

Emma Beckinsale, distributor for Duotone, said: ‘It’s been really good with lots of wind and a good turnout of riders.

‘It’s a great location and has been good for the public to see kitesurfing and get the community involved in the sport post Covid, especially lots of children who have come down and had a go.

‘It’s been one of the few sports that continued through the pandemic and more people are trying it after perhaps having more time.’

Kitesurfing Armada Festival at Hayling Island

Festival-goers were also treated to delicious festival food, entertainment including slacklining, circus skills, power kite sessions and beach yoga.

Local schools were encouraged to visit on Friday to the Big Schools Day to learn more about sustainable wind energy and discover ways to take care of the planet.

The festival site also operated a zero single-use plastic policy encouraging visitors to take advantage of reusable festival cups.

And those who attended were impressed. Julia and Glyn Cheesman, of Waterlooville, were pleased to be at the festival. ‘We’re here to blow away a few cobwebs and have a good time,’ Julia, 56, said.

Glyn, 47, added: ‘We normally come to the festival. It’s fun to watch and is an enjoyable atmosphere.’

Kitesurfing Armada Festival at Hayling Island Pictured: People kite surfing at Hayling Island Picture: Habibur Rahman

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Kitesurfing Armada Festival at Hayling Island Pictured: Luke and Claire Marks with their children, Lowenna 7 and Isaac 4 Picture: Habibur Rahman