National Watersports Festival 2015 (taking place on Hayling Island Sept 4-6) is just around the corner. Bringing together industry and enthusiasts from across SUP, windsurfing, kitesurfing and kayaking, it’s a ‘must do’ event for anyone of a saltwater bent. We caught up with organiser Allan Cross for a quick natter ahead of the big weekend.
- 2015’s NWF isn’t that far away now – what can we expect differently this year (if anything)?
The dynamics of the festival are evolving and we certainly have more trade across all disciplines attending for 2015. I’d say about 30% more as our footfall at the event has been steadily increasing over the years. We are raising the bar on the SUP discipline this year, and all the various aspects of the SUP have been sponsored by industry so this helps with promoting purposes, but also more prizes. Dare I say these prizes are aimed more at the recreational cruiser level, as per the windsurfing master blasters. Even though we do cater for the high end of the sport the meat of what we deliver is solely aimed at the recreational paddler and those new to the sport. We will have various industry sponsored clinics throughout the weekend and some will take the racing serious. We aim to give all abilities a great time on and off the water.
- How do you keep an event like this evolving – what motivates you?
Errrm good question. It’s certainly not a financial one… I suppose I like to think in a small way the NWF is making a difference within the industry, however, more importantly the consumer, as this is the main of the ethos the NWF brand is built on. Everyone who supports the NWF is a winner – from consumer to supplier.
- We’re looking forward to 2015’s SUP shenanigans; there seems to be more of an emphasis on SUP this time – why is that?
In years gone by the NWF was really known as a purist windsurfing event, however, in this day and age we are very much appealing to the new breed of watersports enthusiast who actually participates in many areas – choosing the best discipline for local conditions on the day. We wanted to raise our game and support the demand from both consumer and supplier – it’s great to see and be apart of this fast growing sport.
- Do you see more windsurfers crossing over to SUP/windSUP for lighter or no wind days?
Yes, for sure, many a windsurfer now has a SUP in their van, plus coming from the windsurfing side of the sport I am pleased to see the crossover. WindSUP has made a longer watercraft trendy again, and whilst many will say its no good as a learning platform due to having no dagger board, it soon makes you remember how important water length is to a non planning windsurfer.
- How much paddling do you do – we’ve spotted a few recent pics of you out and about?
I still don’t do as much as I would like – I certainly have the toys and will make more of an effort but it’s tricky with my time being so precious. I would like to do more wave stuff now living in Kernow. I’ve been asked and in fear of being asked again to step up in surf. I best get my paddle into gear!
- Back to the fest; how hard is it delivering an event like this each year?
It’s interesting, considering the phrasing of your question, as an event is very different to a festival. But I know what your saying: a festival of this size is very much a solid nine month project which my wife can vouch for!
- Do you still think Hayling Island is the right venue for NWF and why?
Hayling has been a great location for a watersports festival due to its local conditions and being so central for participants to travel too. It has excellent routes form London and beyond so yes, I still think it’s the right spot.
- Any plans to develop the concept further afield or add another youth element like NWF Jnr?
I have a few irons in the fire at the moment regarding the future of the NWF brand and how we should progress – watch this space! I very much enjoyed delivering the NWF Jnr – after all it’s our future of these sports. It’s a great concept but ideally I would like to deliver both Jnr and main NWF at the same venue.
- What are you most looking forward to about 2015’s NWF?
The participants and everyone involved having a great time once again.
- Any shout outs?
Just like to thank those loyal participants and trade whom over the years have supported the NWF. However, nine years in we still have some difficulties in convincing people that the festival is aimed very much at the recreational user. If you haven’t been to the National Watersports Festival before then I’d urge you to come along as not only will you have an awesome time, you’ll get to meet other likeminded individuals, perhaps learn a new skill and rub shoulders with many of the UK pros. Oh, and don’t forget the parties!