Rob Kent (Round Island Champion 2011-14), his wife Annette (Ladies Champion) and daughters Emily and Rebecca were in attendance. All four will be competing this year and Rob will be aiming to make it five wins in a row. The Kent family rounded off the day with a demosntration sail past HISC.
The Mayor of Havant welcomed everyone to the afternoon and Simon Lovesey (MD of SailRacer) guided everyone through the presentation. There was a look back at the early years of the event with Phil Bryant who first competed in 1981. The presentation included a previously filmed interview with Dave Hackford from Tushingham, who are sponsoring the race this year. Dave commented that if it is windy on Good Friday and Guy Cribb enters the race, then he would take a lot of beating!
There was also a filmed interview with Guy Cribb, the current record holder (58 minutes in 1992!) Guy spoke of the exhilaration of windsurfing under the Northam Bridge "approaching it at full speed and at the last minute dropping the rig down and gliding under the bridge, hearing the traffic overhead."
Rob Kent, who this year will aim to make it 5 wins in a row, explained the course and talked about how his girls are improving and catching him up. His wife Annette has been ladies champion since 2009.
There were a few new announcements, including sponsorship by Tony Jones & The SUP Company for the Stand Up Paddleboard Challenges. Simon Lovesey created tension as he announced that SailRacer and HISC were going to challenge someone in the room to do the Round Hayling Island Race! He nominated a journalist from The Portsmouth News (Jeff Marshman) to do the race on a paddleboard! Tony Jones provided Jeff with a board, Karl Cadwallader of Jobe kindly provided a wetsuit and Jeff was taken off to the beach for a paddleboard lesson. There will be some paddleboards available for hire for the SUP Company Challenge on 3rd April. Action Van have also kindly donated some prizes for the event.
SailRacer will be tracking all entrants, so their progress can be seen live on-line by all their supporters and this will be supported by LPB Imagery who will feed back aerial images from drones over the course.
The Mayor appeared to thoroughly enjoy the afternoon and watched Jeff Marshman have his first stand up paddleboard lesson and the Kent family show off their windsurfing skills on the water. Luckily the Mayor brought the sunshine to HISC!