Recent surveys have indicated that “sailing clubs” may need to become “water recreation clubs”. At least in attitude if not in name, as an aging demographic and changing attitudes to use of free time predicts falling numbers for their traditional membership model.
At Hayling Island SC (HISC) one of the results of this changing outlook has been a resurgence in the popularity of windsurfing and adjacent to that, the Stand Up Paddle (SUP) board phenomena.
HISC ran a very popular open event, the Round Hayling Island Windsurfer Race, back in the ’80s at the time of the initial popularity of windsurfers.
The driver of that popularity, the Windsurfer Class, grew massively and together with a rush of wannabe boards, sparked a boom in recreational windsurfing that broke away from a rigid racing format with fixed courses and and complicated racing rules.
The original HISC event was very very successful, but while windsurf racing became an Olympic sport, recreational use fell away and the Round Hayling race was eventually abandoned.
With windsurfing re-gaining popularity at the club, the Round Hayling Island Windsurfer Race was re-introduced in 2009 with over 50 entries.
The following year, with over 100 windsurfer entries, a small group of sixteen SUP competitors took part in a seperate Paddle Board event.
By 2018 the 40 windsurfer entries had been overtaken by the 50 SUP entries in what was now the Round Hayling Challenge and also incorperating a number of canoe classes (OC1, OC2, OC6).
VR Sport Media
For 2019 TheSUPco.com Hayling Island Challenge will again embrace Windsurfers, SUPs and the Canoe classes (OC1, OC2, OC6) with a selection of courses.
The Starboard Course – the full 14-mile circumnavigation or the Red Paddle Co 9 mile course which runs along the more sheltered side of the island.
Competitors face a number of challenges in this historic race, including navigating under the road bridge that links the island to the mainland, and then navigating the length of Langstone Harbour, before the final challenge across the open sea and back into Chichester Harbour to complete the circumnavigation at HISC.
This is an event that is just getting its second wind, with competitors revelling in the challenge of competing against not just their fellow competitors but whatever mother-nature can throw at them on the day . . .
So, if you’re up for the challenge, the on-line entry for The Round Hayling Island Challenge, which this year takes place on Saturday 14 September, is now open.
Early Bird offer, all entries received and paid before midnight on 30 June will automatically be entered into a Prize Draw for a chance to win £100 (conditions apply).