Get stoked at this summer's watersports festivals
Surfing may make you think of bronzed Aussie types, riding the waves confidently on their boards before jumping to shore for a party on the beach, but there’s still plenty in the sport for us less bronzed, less fit types. In fact the wild waves all around Britain make it perfect for all types of watersports, from surfing and sailing to kayaking and canoeing. There are plenty of watersports and sailing festivals around the country, where you can enviously watch the athletic types do their stuff (me) or take part yourself and not be such a scaredycat (everyone else). Here’s our pick of the best watersports festivals with camping nearby.
- Relentless Boardmasters , Newquay: Relentless Boardmasters is Europe’s biggest surf, skate and music festival and has been going strong since 2006. Based at Fistral Beach and Watergate Bay from 10th —14th August, there’s loads to see and do over the five days, including the 6 star men’s surfing series and the men and women’s 6 star longboarding pro events. There’s plenty of music too, with Klaxons and Fatboy Slim headlining dozens of other acts. There’s camping at the festival itself, but if you want to really get away from it all and stay in luxury offsite, check out Trevella Park with free fishing and a children’s play area, Hendra Holiday Park with indoor and outdoor pools, or Treloy Touring Park near the town centre.
- White Air Extreme Sports Festival , Brighton, 18th - 20th September: Not just surfing, paddle-boarding, jetskiing, windsurfing, sailing, kitesurfing and wakeboarding here, but land-based sports such as BMX, martial arts and volleyball as well as a 56-mile off-road race starting in London and finishing at the festival. Looking up, there are also displays by the Red Arrows, the RAF Falcons and even upside down Chinook helicopters. Music includes Biffy Clyro, Doves and The Cribs. For camping at Brighton, try Sheepcote Valley Caravan Club Site two miles from Brighton Marina, or Blackberry Woods , where you can stay in a restored gypsy caravan or converted London double decker bus.
- Lifestyles Extreme Sports and Culture Festival , Norfolk: Running from 15th—17th July, this is another festival with both water and land sports available – there are the national kitesurfing and windsurfing competitions to watch or you can try your hand at either, along with trying skateboarding, street dance or BMX. There are workshops and demonstrations for the uninitiated, so bring some gear and get stuck in. Pitchup.com has almost 200 sites in Norfolk , with five in Hunstanton where the festival action is – check out Manor Park Holiday Village near the beach, or stay in a lodge at Wild Luxury Adventure Holidays .
- Cowes Week 2011 , Isle of Wight: Cowes Week is the oldest and biggest sailing regatta in the world, running over eight days in August. This year it’s on from August 6th—13th, with an estimated 8,500 competitors across all levels, watched by around 100,000 spectators. If you want to sail but don’t have your own boat, check out the Crew Forum on the main site where you can flag your availability. There’ll also be plenty of live entertainment and music on if you just go to Cowes Week to watch. For camping, Pitchup.com has over 50 sites on the Isle of Wight , with two at Cowes – Gurnard Pines is right beside the action and bookable online.
If water’s your thing rather than watersports, there’s still loads of stuff to see around the country all over the summer. You could watch the wakeboarding at Wakestock from 8th-10th July in Cardigan Bay, go along to the UK Windsurfing Championships at Bridlington from 9th—10th July, check out the Whitby Regatta from August 13th—15th, see dragon boats at the Leeds Waterfront Festival and Dragon Boat Spectacle from 25th—26th June, or mingle with sailors (ahem) at Falmouth Week from 6th—14th August. To mark on the calendar for next year, try the English National Surfing Championships and the Reef Night Surf , both in Newquay in May, or GoldCoast Oceanfest at Croyde Bay, north Devon, in June.
And wherever you end up, don’t forget to check out Pitchup.com for camping options nearby – only Ellen MacArthur gets away with sleeping under her boat.