It's back - the 12th National Watersports Festival (NWF) heads to Rutland Water East Midlands on June 8-10, for a three-day, non-stop extravaganza of windsurfing and standup paddleboarding!
Attracting all ages and levels, from complete beginners to Olympic level riders, the NWF is one big celebration of watersports love! Racing, demos, talks, trade show, clinics, live music, partying, floodlit night time, freestyle action and camping are all part and parcel of the packed summer festival.
New this year is the welcome addition of the RYA who will be offering dinghy sailing taster sessions, alongside kayaking, windsurfing and paddle boarding. PADI will also be bringing diving to Rutland Water and offering 'have a go' sessions, so if you're not playing on top of the water, here's your chance to have an adventure under it!
The NWF was at Hayling Island, Hampshire for 10 years but last year organisers made the bold move to relocate the whole festival nearly 200 miles up the road to the East Midlands. Did it pay off last year? "You bet it did" explains event director Allan Cross! "Some people thought I was nuts moving an established event to an inland destination and away from a whole region that had embraced it for a decade.
"However, in order to grow the event, we needed a drastic rethink and Rutland Water offered us the chance to remould the event and expand it. Last year the event exceeded our expectations, which is why this year we buzzing with everything we've got planned to make the event bigger, bolder and everything that people want to see with an event of this size.
"There will also be prizes galore with the NWF's now yearly awards ceremony, acknowledging all those who work so hard in the sports we love."
For those who may not have heard of the NWF, the event attracts around 500 competitors and upwards of 10,000 spectators who pack along the shoreline to take in the mass of boards and sails which monopolise the water, as far as the eye can see. One of Europe's largest man-made lakes, Rutland Water is a reservoir, renowned for its stunning setting and perfect conditions for a host of watersports.
The NWF will be offering racing for all ages, from juniors, just starting out in the sport, to those who've swapped their retirement slippers for some action and are spending their second youth doing what they love!
In terms of the racing, everyone is catered for; if you need to jump off and drag your board round the mark, fine, you're in! For the serious races there are multiple race formats, where you'll likely race alongside renowned faces of the sports, with a host of top names regularly attending the NWF, lending their support, meeting their sponsors, their mates and of course getting out on the water for some fun.
On shore you'll find things happening across the whole weekend, whether it's a clinic on new foils, freestyle tactics or race turns, or talks, demos or a new product launch. All this is set against the backdrop of the chilled lakeside surrounds, with sponsors, The Grainstore Brewery providing the marquee filled with live music, top bands and, of course, the best ales, ciders and drinks from across the region.
NWF organisers, supported by sponsor Anglian Water are looking to grow the event further and, in so doing, have reintroduced a much-loved event - the Rutland Festival - to coincide with the weekend.
Some of the best local food producers and suppliers are being lined up to join all the weekend's festivities, including Northfields Farm and Vivia Crumps who will be doing everything they can to tantalise visitors' taste buds over the weekend!
Anglian Water's Will Kirstein commented: "The NWF was an enormous success last year with the water a hive of activity from start to finish. Rutland Water has all the facilities to stage a festival of this scale and also provides a very natural amphitheatre for watching the racing, so it definitely lends itself to an event like the NWF.
"Over the weekend the water is a mass of activity with hundreds of competitors in the water at one time. When the sun goes down the fun doesn't stop but steps up a gear with incredible flood-lit action from the pros, performing jumps and stunts just metres from the shore. With live music, partying and camping right by the lake, the scene is set for another epic year."
Competitor tickets for the event are NOW on sale. Visit www.nationalwatersportsfestival.com