NWF? The National Watersports Festival was formerly known as The National Windsurfing Festival (and prior to that the Fat Face Night Windsurf). In an effort to make the gathering more inclusive and grow the concept, head honcho and organiser, Allan Cross rebranded a couple of years ago and set about shoeing in other disciplines. NWF 2013 featured windsurfing, kitesurfing, stand up paddle boarding and of course, kayaking. Throughout the weekend there was the opportunity to try some shiny new kit from Sitons’ good friends Perception, Islander and Fatyak. For newbies looking to take to the water for the first time there was the opportunity of getting involved in kayak taster sessions and pick up some tips from the qualified instructors on hand.

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Add to the mix two great parties, a drool inducing trade marquee, a number of colourful personalities from the world of watersports and you were all set for ‘the event of the year’. Friday rev up Most brands rocked up at Beachlands on Thursday night and come dawn’s crack the beach was a hive of activity as brands set about turning the seafront into a vibrant watery Mecca. By the afternoon a moderate breeze had kicked in which allowed all the windy heads (kiters and windsurfers) to get stuck in while the downwind paddling aficionados were having a bit of fun in their kayaks and on SUPs. Some ‘yakers were also messing about in the little wavelets that were jacking up – the whole vista was ready for the imminent thronging mass of competitors and visitors. Recreational spotlight As much as the NWF does attract pros the emphasis is firmly on recreational paddlers. Featuring friendly competition that caters for the masses fun and frolics are assured and the inclusive nature of the festival encouraged.

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Even if you’re not of a competitive bent kayaking and watersports buffs could enjoy perusing the brand spanking new kit in the trade marquee or lounging about on the beach taking in all the action. Party time Both Friday and Saturday night featured some banging party action once the sun had dipped below the horizon. Friday night’s revelry included a charity auction with the industry stumping up prizes for bidding on – all for a worthy cause – while Saturday was the ‘big one’ and featured a horror fancy dress theme. Plenty of personalities and punters alike turned out having made big efforts to emulate their favourite horror characters. It’s always slightly unnerving bumping into Freddy Krueger in the dark after a few sherbets!

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Great advert The whole NWF event was a spectacle for all the sports involved. Attracting large volumes of punters with no prior experience, the festival was a fantastic advert for a watery lifestyle.

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Many inquisitive types were suitably impressed by the whole scene and in many cases were encouraged to have a crack at kayaking (or one of the other disciplines) themselves. Festivals such as NWF do wonders for attracting new blood. The curtain closes As the curtain closes and all the players take their bows to rapturous applause the ring master Allan Cross will take stock, reflect and hopefully begin putting the wheels in motion for National Watersports 2014. Everyone who made the Hayling Island pilgrimage this year was suitably impressed by how the event turned out. Plenty of on water fun was had, lots of malarkey during the after parties and stoked beaming faces were witnessed leaving the NWF arena at the end of each fulfilling day.

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If you didn’t make it this year then stay tuned for confirmation of next. The ‘event of the year’ will surely be back… For more festival video highlights and pics head over to the NWF website http://nationalwatersportsfestival.com/ *** All images courtesy Justin Morris/NWF and Tez Plavenieks ***