If you went down to the beach this weekend, you were in for a big surprise. For kitesurfers, sun-seekers, family fun fans, music lovers, adventurers and everyone in between was down at Hayling Island for one of the biggest kitesurfing festivals in the world.
What started out as a charity fundraiser has grown into The Virgin Kitesurfing Armada Festival, a free beach festival that combines world-class sport with fun for all ages and interests.
Some of the best kitesurfers in the world were present for the fifth Virgin Kitesurfing Armada, including ten-time female World Champion Gisela Pulido, British Champion and Brighton Pier jumper Lewis Crathern and Aaron Hadlow a British five-time World Champion. Nick Jacobsen, who you may remember from jumping off my roof on Necker and Moskito Islands – not to mention the Burj Al Arab – was also in town.
Regular readers will know how much I love kitesurfing – I get out on the waves at every opportunity. But you didn’t need to be experienced to get involved at the Armada. Newcomers could try out taster sessions on the beach, while all could hear live commentary of the world’s best strutting their stuff out on the ocean.
Over and above the sporting element, I really love the opportunity to bring people together. With this in mind, the festival included a family zone full of activities, live music, as well as a recovery zone complete with hot tub and massages. All this helped some good causes too, with funds being raised for the Armada Trust and Virgin Unite.
Making an event more appealing to all people is something close to our hearts at Virgin. It’s why we started Virgin Sport too, turning straightforward half marathon events into day and weekend-long festivals of sport for people of all abilities. When you bring people together in exciting, creative environments, magic happens. That’s certainly the case with the Virgin Kitesurfing Armada. Now, where’s my kite?