Historic Hayling race return with a twist

Action from last year's Roung Hayling Island race. Picture: SailRacer
Action from last year's Roung Hayling Island race. Picture: SailRacer
Tony Langley's TP52 Gladiator. Picture: George Mills Photography

Concise reaches island finish line

  • Kent return to defend windsurfing crown
  • Marshman accepts paddleboard challenge
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The iconic annual Round Hayling Island Race (RHIR) returns today and is expected to be the best ever.

The race, which was first launched in 1980, has had a resurgence in recent years.

Watching Rob Kent attempt to continue his winning streak will be brilliant

Simon Lovesey

And up to 150 of the country’s best windsurfers are expected to take to the seas in the latest battle.

Last year’s winner Rob Kent will be returning to defend his crown.

And the Calshot-based racer will be joined by wife Annette, who was first lady in 2014, and his two daughters Rebecca and Emily – both previous winners of the London Windsurfing Association’s windsurfer-of-the-year award.

This year’s event has been organised by Gosport-based SailRacer and will see, for the first time, the use of trackers on each participant.

The trackers will allow spectators to witness every twist and turn of the race from shore.

They will be able to gauge each competitor’s speed, distance covered and the proximity to their rivals.

Alongside the headline windsurfing race, this year’s event will, for the first time, see stand-up paddleboarders (SUP) and open canoes take on the full 14-mile circumnavigation.

SailRacer have also incorporated shorter course options on offer for all three disciplines.

Simon Lovesey, managing director of SailRacer, has been delighted to get involved in such an historic competition.

And he reckons this year’s race will be a memorable battle – with Kent attempting to continue his impressive winning streak and potentially eyeing a course record.

‘Hayling is steeped in the history of windsurfing, which makes this race so important,’ said Lovesey.

‘Watching Rob Kent attempt to continue his winning streak will be brilliant.

‘We have had a lot of interest and seeing the new disciplines come in this year as well is fantastic.

‘This is a great event. It’s a mountain to climb and it’s a real challenge but it is a great event.

‘One of our aims is to really involve newcomers and get everybody involved in watersports.

‘And this event will really promote that.’

Alongside the fierce battle for glory, The News sports writer Jeff Marshman has accepted SailRacer’s challenge to take part in the SUP race.

Marshman had never set foot on a paddleboard before last month’s race launch.

The 24-year-old’s ‘Mission to Marsh’ column saw him step into the boxing ring with Heart of Portsmouth starlet Ebonie Jones last week.

He has also flown a glider, dived off a five-metre platform and taken to the American football field.

But his latest challenge promises to be one of his toughest.

The Stand Up Paddleboard Company’s Tony Jones has loaned Marshman a board and Karl Cadwallader of Jobe clothing has kitted him out with wetsuit.

Marshman said: ‘To say I am a complete novice when it comes to watersports is an understatement.

‘But, the way I am, as soon as Simon challenged me, I had to accept.

‘If I can stay on the board at all times and drag myself to the four-mile point I will be delighted.

‘I would like to say a big thank you, though, to all the guys at SailRacer, SUP Company and Jobe for 
the support they have shown to me so far.’