Hayling gears up for annual windsurfing showdown

Rob Kent
Rob Kent
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Hayling Island is preparing for its iconic annual windsurfing battle.

Now in its 35th year, the Round Hayling Island Race is set to take place on Friday, April 3.

The 14km showdown attracts windsurfers from across the country and this season they will arrive in a bid to wrest the title from Rob Kent.

Having claimed victory in each of the past four years, the Calshot Activity Centre-based windsurfer will be aiming for the course record.

He will be joined in the race by his wife, Annette, who was first lady in 2014, as well as his daughters, Emily and Rebecca, who are both past winners of the prestigious London Windsurfing Association’s young-windsurfer-of-the-year award.

The event will also feature a shorter course for open canoes and stand-up paddleboards, as well as the option of a reduced course for windsurfers in what promises to be an action-packed day.

Last year 55 competitors took to the waves for the race and organisers are hoping to exceed that number this year.

Simon Lovesey, of event promoters SailRacer, said: ‘Hayling Island is the birthplace of windsurfing, so it’s important we have an event celebrating this.

‘On-the-water activity is important in a place like Hayling, so we really hope this will encourage participation in not only windsurfing but also canoeing and paddleboarding. It’s great to see Rob Kent return and, although the course record has so far eluded him, hopefully with a bit of luck on the day, he can give it a good go.

‘Our aim is to grow and revitalise this competition over the next few years.

‘We’ve almost matched last year’s entry numbers already, so we should have a great turn out.

‘There’s a lot of passion for the event.

‘The added categories shows its appeal is stretching beyond its original remit, which is great to see.’