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Chucky performing a raley


Inter-Services 2017

The last week in October saw kitesurfers from all three services gather at Hayling Island, near Portsmouth in Hampshire, on the south coast of England, for the UK Armed Forces Festival of Kitesurfing. This event is one of the highlights of the year for serving kitesurfers. As current RAF Champion, No 4 School of Technical Training’s Chf Tech Ian Savage had travelled to the event as part of the RAF Team. The Festival is open to all levels of kitesurfers, to actively promote all types of kitesurfing to soldiers, sailors, marines and airmen. The planned events usually include a freestyle competition with different categories for varying skill and experience levels, and also kite racing, a competitive kitesurfing event not dissimilar to yacht racing along a course, involving both speed and tactics.

The RAF were well represented with a mixture of newcomers, some of whom had only learnt to kitesurf this year, and also old hands, some of who were involved with gaining recognised status for the sport and founding the RAF Power Kiting Association, which is about to celebrate it’s tenth anniversary this November. The team had elected to stay in a caravan park in close proximity to the beach, as the nearest military accommodation, at HMS Temeraire, was a 40 minute drive away.

The original plan was for everyone to arrive and get some practice in the early part of the week and run the competitive elements at the end of the week. Unfortunately the weather had other ideas. The lack of wind on Monday prevented anyone getting on the water. The only wind for the whole of the week's forecast was predicted for Tuesday and Wednesday, but even this was too light to allow a competition to take place. So at a briefing on Tuesday morning the chairmen of the three associations made the call to cancel the competition, due to insufficient wind.

However the slight breeze that was forecast did turn up and provided just enough wind for around 20 or so kiters to get out on the water, in some glorious sunshine, on very large, lightwind specific kites.

On Wednesday afternoon a handful of the remaining kiters were treated to a demonstration and a chance to try out CR:X One Design, a new development in the sport. This system, CR:X, has been built for an extraordinary wide wind range, from 8-30 knots, maximizing rideable conditions and days on the water. This is facilitated by a lightweight three-strut kite that comes in three sizes and a convertible kite board, allowing for riding either as a TwinTip or fitted with a hydrofoil. The multiple modes mean that the same set of equipment can be used for beginners or more advanced foil races and in changing weather conditions.

The designers hope to create a community of kite racing enthusiasts within the British military of all levels and abilities and enable them to race on a level playing field, in a wide range of conditions.

Chf Tech Savage is one of very few military kitesurfers who can pilot a foil board, which enables great speed even in very light winds, and he was first out on the new equipment showing what will no doubt be the way forward for competitive kitesurfing, not only in the military, but also as a potential Olympic event.

Members of all three Services left the demonstration buzzing on the excitement of this new development, keen to get practicing for next year’s season!

RAF Kitesurfing Championships 2017

Most competitors had arrived at Pembrey Country Park Campsite by Thu morning and circled the tents to create a RPKA ‘home from home’ for eating, sleeping and evening socials. Taking it in turns to cook and brew-up, the team was already starting to bond and build on the spirit that had first been reinvigorated a month earlier on the Sicily OSV.

The wind came late on Thu but fortunately coincided with an evening high-tide. Keen as ever to get on the water, everyone took advantage and enjoyed a free-ride session with the backdrop of a stunning sunset. As the entire sky turned a deep red over the far reaching dunes and western horizon, the reflection on the choppy water looked like flames bubbling around the skimming kiteboards. Yet another totally unique Kitesurfing experience had everyone grinning as they finally left the water just before darkness fell.

With a promise of some wind on Fri, the alarms went off early and, fuelled by Drakey’s bacon sandwiches, everyone got to the beach raring to go. Unfortunately, the wind was light and was only just enough for big kites, surfboards and Ian Savage breaking new ground for the association with foilboard freestyle. After a 2 hour session, improving the strapless freestyle repertoires, the wind continued to drop as the tide ebbed and everyone headed for lunch on Bury Port harbour. Having resigned to there being no more kiting that day the group split to restock on provisions and sort kit. However, contrary to the forecast, the wind kicked in strongly by mid-afternoon. A quick rallying call went out and everyone assembled at the beach for the Intermediates Competition. It was a low tide at this time which, at Pembrey, means a 15 minute walk down the beach to the water’s edge. The sense of anticipation prior to the competition is countered by a kitesurfer’s natural excitement of getting an unexpected session. Energy levels were high and, during the warm up, the intermediate competitors dusted off the freestyle tricks ready for the heats. Following the briefings the kiters took to the water and, with an atmosphere of excitement, the green flag went up and the competition started… and was abruptly suspended when Jim Field broke his leg in Heat 1! The RPKA emergency plan was successfully employed for the first time in anger and the casualty was attended to by an overwhelming response from the local emergency services. 2 inshore lifeboats, 2 Coastguard 4x4s, an ambulance, a helicopter and a total of 20 personnel saw Jim safely from the beach to the local hospital in very quick time. After a delay of about 1 hour the competition was resumed and Heat 2 was completed without any dramas. Unfortunately, the wind dropped mid-way through the final and the competition was again suspended, this time for the day. Such are Kitesurfing competitions in the UK, it had been a rollercoaster afternoon. When it was pointed out that Jim had ultimately been responsible for the delay that prevented the competition being completed, it was inevitable and unequivocal that he should receive the ‘Cockblock’ award. Competing for the first time in his short Kitesurfing career, Si Bellamy did extremely well to stay up wind for an entire session in the challenging Pembrey surf. This achievement rewarded his dogged determination to master the sport and earned him the award for the ‘Most Improved Kiter’. Following the ups and downs of the day the team, including Jim with plastered leg, re-mustered at the campsite for evening meal and well-earned refreshments.

Saturday morning, 2 hours before high-tide, everyone left standing assembled once more at the beach with a good wind and raring to go. The Intermediates’ final and the RAF Champs Competitions were run concurrently to save time. Tom Boyce was first on the water but crumbled under the pressure of competition. Crashing and ditching his kite as he attempted his first trick, left him under even more pressure in the remaining time. Dropping his kite a further 2 times, we only saw a glimpse of what Tom is capable of. It’s very early days for Tom and more exposure to competitions will undoubtedly ease the nerves and see him rise up the standings. The competition was now left wide open for the old campaigner Dave Thorne and new kid on the block Luke Adshead to fight it out for the Intermediates’ title. Dave has been developing in the relative isolation of Scotland compared to Luke who was fresh off the OSV coaching. They both threw down some great routines with similar levels of difficulty, performing top-end hooked-in tricks and saving the riskier unhooked attempts for the last minute. As well as many rotations and transitions they were topping the Intermediate expectations with tricks such as darkslide, double-backroll, tweaked front roll with grab and a raley. The judges thought long and hard as there was very little to choose between them. Eventually the verdict was made and Luke had edged it with a slightly slicker overall performance. This also left Luke in a strong place for the overall Champs title with his run in the bag, Ian Savage and Si Taylor had it all to do. Ian went first and produced a flawless routine of rotations and grabs, darksliding on both tacks and packing in lots of eye-catching tricks. Si went for the higher energy routine which included aerial kiteloop transition, tabletop grab, raley and unhooked backroll. As the top 2 seeded riders they had taken the competition to the next level. Again the judges were hard pushed to decide between these differing routines but the finesse of Ian’s tricks got him the nod just ahead of Si.

Following the freestyle competition the wind held for another couple of hours and enabled a King of the Air competition to be run. Taking it in turns to fit a WOO┬« measuring device, each competitor threw themselves at the waves hoping for that little extra height on their biggest boosts. First to go, Si hit the sweet spot once in his session and that was enough to record an impressive 8.1m that couldn’t be topped by the other competitors.

Overall, this was a successful Championship that saw a range of abilities compete for 4 trophies over 3 days, as well as plenty of opportunity to free-ride and hone individual skills. The standard was very high and the spirit of competition was excellent. With sights now set on the Aug Intermediate Development Camp, in the beautiful Outer Hebrides, the RAF appears to be in a good position ahead of the Inter-Services Competition. The venue works well and the campsite domestics were great for a summer event, adding to the traditionally strong RPKA team spirit. Although Jim’s incident was unfortunate, it demonstrates how good the RPKA’s safety management system is to ensure everyone’s enjoyment of this extreme sport. Thanks goes from all the competitors to the organisers who make an event such as this possible.

All the final competition standings are:

RPKA Kitesurfing Championship

1st Ian Savage

2nd Si Taylor

3rd Luke Adshead

4th Dave Thorne

5th Tom Boyce

Intermediates’ Kitesurfing Competition

1st Luke Adshead

2nd Dave Thorne

3rd Tom Boyce

4th Jim Field

5th Steve Drake

6th Si Bellamy

King of the Air Competition

1st Si Taylor 8.1m

2nd Ian Savage 6.9m

3rd Dave Thorne 5.6m

4th Luke Adshead 5.5m

5th Tom Boyce 4.5m

Most improved Kiter

Si Bellamy

Cockblock Award

Jim Field

Zero to Hero and RAF Championships 15

Another truly awesome year spent on the the Isle of North Uist, where the weather once again delivered almost perfection...a few degrees warmer would always be welcome! But the slightly chilly conditions did not deter our hardy Zero-to-Hero class of 15 with all novices up and riding at the end of the 2 weeks. A huge thankyou to the students who consistently proved that no matter how cold or windy it was, their enthusiasm would not be doused or dampened, a truly shining example of true determination and tenacity. By week 2, the students were almost independent providing time for everyone to start preparing for the RAF Championships.

Another round of thanks must go to our instructors and support crew without which the training and Championships could not be held - truly exceptional again everyone, you are all MEGA!

With the weather being not so solid the 2nd week after only 1 day of riding everyone lined up for the competition. The novices were first up demonstrating their newly honed skills with 17m kites. All did exceptionally well and should be congratulated for cracking on, even thought the wind was on the verge of disappearing altogether.

After much deliberation the RAF Champs was run in a tweaked slope style competition, each rider allowed four tacks to showcase their tricks and 3 runs overall. It was looking a close run thing at first with very light winds limiting the tricks being busted out on the water. For a while the Chairman held the lead landing an near perfect back-loop kite-loop; however after 30 mins the wind had picked up and the complexity of tricks moved on. Everyone unleashing the goods, as normal there was impressive array of hooked and unhooked wake style tricks on display, with the inevitable crashes and plunges. But overall the top riders were placed as follows:

RAF Champion 2015 : Si Taylor
RAF 2nd Place: Ian Savage
RAF 3rd Place: Chris Roberts

Novices Champion 2015: Luke Adshead
Joint 2nd place: Jon Clough and Tom
Joint 3rd Place: JT and Sophie Townend

Inter-services festival of kiting and championships 2014

Faced with offshore winds at the normal venue at Westward Ho! the decision to move the Championships day to Exmouth (the only coast with onshore winds) was made. At 0830 on Sat 70+ competitors and supporting crew made the journey South. With the RAF top 3 seeds not competing, this was going to be a tough year for the RAF to retain the title.

With a less than perfect wind direction (directly on-shore) and a shore dump to be reckoned with, the novices took to the water to demonstrate their skills. An outstanding effort all-round! Next up the Open freestyle, which was a hard fought battle in testing conditions as the wind threatened to drop off beyond being usable; however, it stayed just long enough for the title to be decided and the results are shown below.

An excellent day with all comeptitiors pulling everything out of the bag, with maximum effort despite the conditions. As the largest kiting competition in the UK, it was a spectacle to behold with 60+ competitors of all levels involved from across the Services. A clear demonstration of how joint military precision can be exploited to good effect resulting in smooth execution of a full championships day, now proven to be a 'mobile' event. Well done everyone!


Kite surf Freestyle:

1st: Bob Bowman (RN)

2nd: James Goddard (RN)

3rd: Chris Roberts (RAF)

Ladies Freestyle:

1st: Charlie Davies (RAF)

2nd: Anna Irwin (RAF)

3rd: Rachael Lee (RAF)

Veterans Freestyle:

1st: Kev Main (Army)

2nd: Trev Calvert (RN)

3rd: Simon Taylor (RAF)

Zero to Hero Camp and RAF Championships 2014

Zero to Hero Camp and RAF Championships 2014. A truly spectacular event this year with another 8 novices up and riding and safely in to the Sport. The weather was truly amazing with it being a roasting 17 degrees most days, a stark contrast to the sleet and snow of last year! One of the Novices, Luke Nunn has written an article, which has appeared in the local paper in the Uists and can be found here - well worth a read.

Results of the RAF Championships:
1st: Ian Savage
2nd: Chris Roberts
3rd: Steve Drake

Another epic success this year and thanks to all those involved in the organisation of yet another RPKA success story.

Z2H 14 team

Inter-services festival of kiting and championships 2013


Kite surf Freestyle:

1st: Capt Simon Warren (Army, but in an RAF rashie!)
2nd: Flt LtAlex Ruck (RAF)
3rd: Flt Lt Charlie Davies (RAF)

Kite Surf Waves:

1st: (Navy)
2nd: SAC(T) Andy Brown (RAF)
3rd: CT Ian Savage (RAF)

Ladies Freestyle:

1st: Sqn Ldr Emma Wolstenholme (RAF)
2nd: Sgt Anna Irwin (RAF)

Veterans Freestyle:

RAF top 3 result to be posted here soon

RAF Championships 2013, Benbecula.


Kite Surf Freestyle:

1st Chf Tech Ian Savage
2nd SAC(T) Andy Brown
3rd Flt Lt Gav Card

Kite Surf race:

1st Flt Lt Chris Roberts
2nd Cpl Al Stephenson
3rd Sqn Ldr CJ Martin

Kite Surf Directional/waves:

1st Chf Tech Ian Savage
2nd Flt Lt Charlie Davies
3rd Sgt Glen Cromar

Kite Landboard:

1st Cpl Al Stephenson
2nd Flt Jed Geddis
3rd Flt lt Charlie Davies

Monster Air: Sgt Glen Cromar

Rocket man!: SAC(T) Stu Saul

Combined services festival of kiting and interservice championships 2012

RAF Champions!

Freestyle open:

Freestyle open:
1st SAC(T) Andy Brown – RAF
2nd Lt James Goddard – Navy
3rd CT Ian Savage – RAF

1st Flt Lt Gareth Thomas – RAF
2nd FS ‘Fozzie’ Foster – RAF
3rd FS‘Party’ Phil Nicholson – RAF

1st Sqn Ldr Emma Wosltenholme - RAF

RAF Championships, Benbecula 2012

The results of the RAF Power Kiting Champs 2012 as as follows:

Kitesurfing Freestyle:
RAF Champ - Andy Brown
Runner up - Will Nicoll

Novice Kitesurf Freestyle:
Novice Champ - Rachael Lee
Novice Runner up - Emma Wolstenholme

Kitebuggy race:
Buggy Champ - Dave Thorne
Runner up - Elliot Robbins

RAF Championships, Pembrey (Newgale) 2011

The results of the RAF Power Kiting Champs 2011 are as follows:

Kitesurfing Freestyle:

RAF Champ - Ian Savage

Runner-up: Stu 'The Proposal' Saul

Kitebuggy Freestyle:

RAF Champ - Richie French

Runner-up: Stu Saul

RAF Championships, Tiree 2010

The results of the RAF Power Kiting Champs 2010 are as follows:

Kitesurfing Freestyle:

RAF Champ - Ian Savage

Runner-up: Stu 'The Proposal' Saul


RAF Champ - Chris Roberts

Runner-up - Ian Savage

Kitebuggy Race:

RAF Champ - Jim Field

Runner-up: Richie French

Thanks to everyone for making the effort to attend and take part. I think we can safely say we all had a blast on Friday, with relatively flat clear turquoise water and some great waves. Although the wind was not too clever for the rest of the week, we all clearly enjoyed the island's offerings and the novices all did exceptionally well!

Pics of the event will be available very soon! Click here for a blow by blow diary of the days events.

RAF Championships 2009

SGt Glen Cromar receiving Kitesurfing Champion trophy from RPKA Chairman

The RAF Kitesurf Champion for 2009 is Sgt Glen Cromar.

The conditions (so I am told) we not quite as testing as at the Tri Services, but were definitely not ideal!

There were 4 contenders for the title, Fg Off Will Nicholl, Fg Off Chris Roberts, Sgt Steven Drake (Drakey) and Sgt Glen Cromar. Come the 11th hour only 3 riders took to the water. All 3 competitors put on a valiant show. Chris was springing some impressive air with some cool grabs before loosing his board mid flight, which put him way down wind.

Glen narrowly pipped Drakey to the post landing some impressive heel to toe-side transitions with style and finesse. Sadly the proceedings were brought to an abrupt end when Drakey suffered a serious kite malfunction. At this point the competition was halted and points scored stood as the final result.

The wind was far too strong to safely conduct any land based competitions and they will remain un-contested until next year.

Thanks to everyone who turned out despite the atrocious forecast and lack of land activity. The social as always was excellent, so thanks again, for another successful weekend, and well done Glen, congratulations.

Check back soon for the gallery.

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