RAF Marham’s Kite Surfing Success Continues

RAF Marham’s kite surfing success has continued with a triumphant weekend at the 2012 Inter-Service Championships.

The crisp autumn weekend delivered blue skies and consistent wind, in what was the UK’s largest kite surfing event of the year. A total of 50 kite surfers from the Army, Royal Navy and Royal Air Force transformed the usual scenery at Westward Ho with a panoramic myriad of kites densely populating the beach. In previous years the event had largely been dominated by the Navy, however the progression of the sport within the RAF, driven by the commitment of its members has resulted in unrivalled expansion.

Kite surfing is the world’s largest growing extreme sport and some of the UK’s most popular spots are located on Norfolk’s beaches. The sport involves exploiting nature’s forces to enable the pilotage of a kite, whilst physically attached by means of a waist harness. The use of a small board with foot-straps enables the rider to manipulate the direction of travel to accomplish upwind riding and even travel faster than the speed of the wind. This progressive sport is widely accessible to people of varying physical ability and due to the evolution of the equipment it is becoming inherently safe. The euphoric feeling of accelerating out of the water and achieving equilibrium with the kite, board and elements, ensures beginners are addicted from their first experience. The exhaustless playground of waves provides endless variety, whilst the flatter water is just as exhilarating, given the rider’s ability to deny gravity using the kite’s aerofoil properties to ‘boost’ to intimidating heights.

The focus of the championships was in the freestyle discipline, offering riders the opportunity to demonstrate their riding agility, often through aerial tricks involving combinations of rotations, kite loops, handle-passes and board grabs. The series of knock-out heats led to SAC(T) Andy Brown landing tricks consistently and getting through to the four-man final. Andy frequently dismissed the use of his waist harness during heats, going for the technically difficult option of performing tricks whilst controlling immense amounts of load from the kite through his upper body. The panel of judges deemed Andy from Tornado Support Squadron (TSS) to be the winner, taking the title away from the Royal Navy. Flt Lt Gareth Thomas for Marham’s Tornado PT won the Novice category with his proficient down-wind sailing technique. Also participating was Flt Lt Emma Bonnett from 31 Sqn, SAC(T) Jonathan Gill and Flt Lt Alex Ruck both from TSS.

The RAF was deemed to be the overall winners of the event, this was undoubtedly due to the benefits of this year’s overseas sports tour. 21 kite surfers had the opportunity to train in the consistent wind, flat water and warm weather of Brazil, with the aid of two times British Champion and RAF team coach, Mike Smith. Similar opportunities exist for newbies to get involved and progress to the level of ‘independent rider’ at the frequent events on the calendar with full equipment and instruction provided.

SAC(T) Brown also received the prestigious Chairman’s award for his dedication to the sport of power kiting, recognising all of his work in administering the sport’s safety policy, instructor doctrine and organising all of the events throughout the year. As the Association’s Senior Instructor he has facilitated opportunities for others to develop at all levels whilst ensuring the sport remains inclusive for all.

Further information
Please contact any of the following personnel at RAF Marham about kite surfing:
OIC: Flt Lt Alex Ruck Ext: 5211,
2IC: SAC(T) Jonathan Gill Ext: 7340,
Chief Instructor: SAC(T) Andy Brown Ext: 5170,
Treasurer: Flt Lt Emma Bonnett Ext: 3814
www.raf.mod.uk/rafpowerkiting

Other news involves the hopes of many kite surfers that have dramatically changed, as the International Sailing Federation has approved a decision to keep windsurfing in the Rio 2016 Olympic Games, reverting the initial decision to replace the Olympic sport with kite surfing. The decision is thought to have been made because kite surfing is still very much in its infancy, despite its overwhelming popularity growing beyond that of windsurfing.

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