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Top watersport action will be coming to Scotland next month as the country hosts the Windsurfing World Championships. Lorraine Wakefield looks forward to the action.

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 2002.

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 events.

"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," continued Joanna.

"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 points."

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 tips.

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," she added.

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





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Young Scots medal hopeful Peter Bird will race in the Aloha Junior class







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