WATERSPORTS enthusiasts at a festival paid tribute to a former Olympian who was killed in a cycling accident.
More than 6,000 people descended on Hayling at the weekend for the ninth National Watersports Festival.
Five hundred competitors took to the water with many taking part in the moving tribute race to expert windsurfer Howard Plumb, from Westbourne, who died in July 2014.
Nick Dempsey, who brought a silver home in the 2012 Olympics in Weymouth, won the race and in a touching tribute to his friend and former windsurfing ally said: ‘Howie would have loved this race, it was great that everyone took part especially as many haven’t been on the water for a while.’
Festival organiser Allan Cross said the weekend had been a huge success and will have provided a big boost to the island.
‘What’s so unique about the NWF is it’s very much a community’, said Allan.
What’s so unique about the NWF is it’s very much a community
‘Participants will always be number one but very close behind is the industry.
‘I’m talking about watersports traders but, more importantly for Hayling, local traders – with the hotels, supermarkets, the fuel stations.
‘Most of the traders we’ve got here are from Hayling and the surrounding area.
‘The idea is for everybody to benefit the local community.’
Despite top watersports stars from around the world mingling with the crowds and doing displays, the main focus of the festival is on intermediate level enthusiasts.
There were taster sessions in kayaking, windsurfing and stand-up paddleboarding throughout the weekend.
But it was the competitions that drew the biggest crowds.
More than 500 people took to the water to get a taste of what it’s like for the professionals.
Alan said: ‘We’ve had some big stars – including Graham Ezzy from Maui.
‘But it’s about the people at intermediate level. Our philosophy is 20 per cent of those here are getting into watersports.
‘Seventy per cent are intermediate and 10 per cent are pro.
‘We are turning the spectator into the competitor.
‘It’s an opportunity for them to compete in an environment that isn’t intimidating or threatening.’
For more information go to nationalwatersportsfestival.com.