THOUSANDS of windsurfers took to the water off Hayling Island as a sporting bonanza returned for its 10th year.
The National Watersports Festival saw scores of races take place across the weekend, with some competitors taking part in fancy dress.
Murray Maunder, 62, from Hayling Island, was there with son Joe, 16, and his partner’s daughter Hannah Young, 14. He took part in the freeride masterblaster race on Saturday dressed as a clown.
‘It just gets better and better every year. It is a fantastic event,’ he said.
Also racing, but this time in a tiger costume, was Guy Lewington, 54, who was with his wife Lorraine and 17-year-old son Dylan.
Guy, from Hartley Wintney, near Hook, said: ‘It was great. I was racing against my son and I beat him, so he’s back out practising now.’
Simon Bornhoft, a windsurfing coach from Chichester, who runs sessions across the area, including Hayling Island, was supporting a team of 60 riders called the Windwise Team.
He said: ‘It is the premier windsurfing event in the country and it’s right here on our doorstep in Hayling Island. It brings a lot of windsurfers to the island, which is the home of windsfurfing. It is great to celebrate that.’
As well as races, there were clinics from renowned coaches, a trade show, live music, camping, and two huge parties.
For the spectators there were taster sessions, food and drink stalls, flood-lit night-time freestyle stunt action from the pros and a host of family attractions from climbing walls to a Lynx helicopter to explore.
At any one time there were hundreds of colourful sails, as well as stand-up paddleboarders, in the water.
And it was not all beginners or intermediates, the event attracted some of the sport’s biggest names including Nick Dempsey, who won a silver in windsurfing in the Rio Olympics, and current World Freestyle Windsurfing Champion, Dieter Van Eyken.
Allan Cross, event director and creator of the NWF commented: ‘This has been a truly memorable weekend, with fantastic conditions for the windsurfers who have put on epic displays for the assembled spectators.
‘Our huge thanks to Havant Borough Council for all its help and support and everyone on the island and further afield who have embraced the festival over the past decade. We’re proud of what we’ve delivered and the opportunity we’ve had to show our beloved sports off to so many thousands of people over the years.’
Organiser Allan Cross said he was pleased to see so many people at the event – estimated to be about 10,000 spectators and 500 competitors across the three days.