Life is a breeze for the top young windsurfers in the world but
things will be hotting up next month when they converge on Largs
to compete in the Windsurfing World Championships from 3 - 10 August
The coastal town of Largs in Ayrshire, overlooking the island of
Cumbrae, is an idyllic location for watersports and is already a
firm favourite with sailors making the most of the conditions in
the Largs Channel and the wonderfully scenic surrounding area.
It is home to the Scottish Sailing Institute, which will host the
Windsurfing World Championship and it is hoped the event will be
the first of many in the discipline helping promote the sport of
windsurfing in the area and Scotland.
As many as 200 competitors are expected at the championships with
the youngest just 12 years of age and with a strong GB and Scotland
team taking part there are also reasonably high hopes for podium
places during the competition.
The youngest class Minim Aloha will feature under 15's, the Juniors
under 17's, Youth Formula under 19's, Formula Espoir under 22's
and then within the Fomula and Raceboards categories there are Masters
categories for women over 30 and men over 35.
The event is very much based on the youth competitors and many
of those competing in the Masters classes are in fact the parents
of the younger windsurfers meaning the whole championships have
a family and friendly feel.
"This is really a youth regatta and a lot of the competitors in
the Masters are parents of the kids taking part so it is quite a
family event," explained Joanna Dixon, sailing development manager
at the Scottish Sailing Institute.
"One of the main Scottish hopes is 15 year old Peter Bird from
Lochwinnoch who is in the Scotland and GB squad. He recently won
the North Sea Cup, a series of four races at North Sea venues in
places like Holland and Belgium, accumulating points over the four
"At last year's world championships he came fifth in the Aloha
Junior class and was the first GB competitor so is the top hope
at the moment for winning the world title and to do it on home soil
would be amazing."
Peter is not alone in being a homegrown hopeful either as fellow
Scots Darran Taylor (Formula Youth), Neil McKean (Formula Espoir)
and Mark Rich (Formula Master) are also expected to achieve a good
final result as are GB squad members Harry Solven, Alistair Murison,
Jonathan Turner (Formula Youth), Keith Atkinson (Formula Espoir)
and Xavier Ferlet (Formula Master).
Racing will take place from 5 - 10 August 2002 in the sea just
off Largs providing spectators on the shore a great chance to watch
all the action in what Joanna says can be quite an amazing sight
as competitors tussle for the best spot.
"Windsurfing is not like other sports where you can ticket your
events so you can never predict how many spectators you are going
to get but we hope to get a lot of spectators on the race days,"
"The courses are marked like yachting and dinghy events with competitors
racing round buoys and it is all about speed and tactics really.
"I went to the World Championships in Italy last year to see the
event and watching on the start line is incredible. It is about
200 metres long and with ten seconds to go all these boards lined
up and the only way they can start is completely pumping their sails
- it is like a Mexican Wave, it's incredible to see.
"We will have maybe three different starts with about 30 or 40
people going off at five to ten minute intervals so it will look
quite exciting. If there is enough breeze the race course will be
in the Largs Channel so you will be able to see it anywhere along
the front or from Cumbrae so there will be good spectator viewing
The Windsurfing World Championships will also provide the perfect
opportunity to promote the sport and over the weekend of 3 & 4 August
the Royal Yachting Association Scotland will run a windsurfing festival
on the waterfront at Largs.
Even if you have never tried windsurfing before you can get a taste
of what the championship competitors can look forward to in the
forthcoming races by having a go yourself with all equipment provided
and the supervision of a watersports instructor to give you a few
All in all a busy week of windsurfing and competition is in store
and if the event is successful it could be the first of many similar
championships coming to Scotland and perhaps Largs.
"There is the hope that by making a good job of this championships
they could come back to Great Britain or even get a regular place
in a several year cycle with other countries like France, Spain
and Italy," said Joanna.
"If this works then we have a chance of the championships coming
back not only to the UK but to Largs itself and that would be good,"
The Windsurfing World Championships will be held at Largs, Ayrshire
from 3 - 10 August 2002 with actual racing taking place from 5 -
10 August. The RYA Scotland Windsurfing Festival will be held on
3 & 4 August on the waterfront at Largs. More information about
the event is on the website www.windsurfingworlds.co.uk