Jake Kelsick - UK Trip
I didn’t really know what to expect when I got the chance to visit the UK, all I ever heard about the UK was it had bad weather and was quite cold.
It was my first time being back to the UK since I was probably 5 years old. After the 7 hour flight from Antigua, I was pretty shocked at how much there was to do once I got there.
I was on the road as soon as I arrived, Iain Hannay (Ozone’s general manager) scooped me up from Manchester and we were on the move down to the Poole to meet with Ozone’s biggest distributer in the UK, the King of Watersports. After meeting with those guys we met up with Ozone’s kite designer Rob, for lunch. Rob has to be one of the coolest people I have ever met he has an awesome outlook on kiteboarding and how kites should work.
I got lucky with the weather, it was sunny nearly every day for the entire month I was there.
The UK has a pretty big kiteboarding and wakeboarding scene. Every kite beach I went to was packed with kiters, all in their wetsuits and stoked to be out shredding in the cold, and when there is no wind that’s when everyone heads to the cable park.
The entire trip kind of felt like one long road trip, because every time we decided to go kiting or hit the cable it was at least a few hours in the car, and we were on missions every weekend. We rarely stayed in one place for more than a few days.
I got the chance to head all over the coast of England, but down South I would have to say is the best part of England to be, places like Southampton and Hayling Island. For me down south reminded me a lot of back home. Pretty warm, great kite spots and Liquid Leisure which is a really good cable park is close by. I got to meet up with Sam light down on Hayling Island. There wasn’t much wind when we were down there so we did a bit of sailing and then hit the cable the next day for a shred. I would say that if you kite or wakeboard, down south is the place to be.
I’m fully hooked on riding cable now, it a dream being able to ride when there is no wind and always having the sickest rails and kickers perfectly setup. I wish Antigua had a cable park.
Before it was time for the competition I got the chance to go over to Norway for a weekend. The entire weekend felt a little surreal, I don’t think I have ever seen so many beautiful women in one place, nearly every girl in Norway looks like she should be on the cover of a magazine. And Norway is all about the party. I found myself getting home just in time for breakfast the next morning the entire weekend. It was a short trip but it was a weekend to remember. I definitely see myself going back to Norway in the near future.
The main reason for this UK trip was to attend the biggest slider event in the UK, “The Rhosneigr Slider Jam” which took place in north wales. I must say North Wales is a lot colder than the rest of England but they have one of the best kite spots in England, on Rhosneigr beach. So once you get used to the cold it’s a fun place to be.
I went down to North Wales/ Rhosneigr about a week before the event started, so I got to have some hands on with building all of the sliders that they were going to put out for the event. They built a 60 foot handrail in under 24hrs, pretty crazy right? That thing was pretty scary to hit but I like how a straight handrail pipe slides, it’s a really free and lose slide. Along with the handrail, they had a kicker and a flat rail.
Apart from the rails that they had at the kite beach, they also had a rooftop and an insane pool gap which was all set up at the party site only 20 minutes away.
The event kicked off on Friday the 31st of August. The first day was pretty mellow, there wasn’t much wind until late in the afternoon, so all the riders ended up hanging out until it got windy enough to kite, and once it did everyone got their wetsuits on and went for a flat water and kicker session. I was shocked at how many people were riding Tona boards, there were like 3 or 4 other guys out on POP’s.
The cool thing about an event like this, it has a “jam” format which is a lot like riding with a bunch of your friends, just that you have a chance to win a title at the end of your session. Meaning that there are no judges except the riders themselves, which is cool because everyone gets to ride without the stress of having only your 7 best tricks counted or only having a few attempts to hit each feature and land each trick.
Day two was amazing, the sun was out and it was windy. We could not have scored a better day. Everyone came down early and helped get all the rails set up, and then we all went shredding. See what I mean about it feeling like it’s just another windy day with all your friends that kite.
After a full day of kiting we went back to the event site for the main party of the event. As we approached the event site all you see was cars, tents and people. It’s set up so that everyone can come out and camp for the weekend of the event. Everyone had their own little space with their tent set up. Something I had never really seen before, but all the English guys were saying that’s how a typical English event is.
Before the party kicked off we did a bit of wakeboarding behind the Jet Ski and hit the Rooftop rail until it got dark, then the party was on! And the place was packed, the event site had a boat house right on the water which they converted into the party house, Dj’s were licking tunes and ladies were getting loose! Haha just joking, but it was a good night.
Woke up Sunday morning in my tent, recovering from a crazy night, and so was everyone else. Had breakfast, did a bit of chilling and before I knew it the Pool Gap was going off! Very few people wanted to hit it, and I’ll explain why. It was freaking scary! It’s a pretty short pool that’s set up on a slight hill which then goes to a rail over land and you’re being pulled by a winch. So there is a lot going on. The guys who built the rail gave it a go first, took a few spills but were actually beginning to make it look fun and getting some good hits. Then Sam Light gave it ago and was getting some solid hits but still there was really no one waiting in line to hit this sketchy pool gap.
But I figured that they went to all the trouble to build it, I have to give it a go. I had never hit anything like this set up before but Sam’s hits gave me a little bit a confidence that it was at least doable.
So before I knew it I was next up. I put my boots on and didn’t really know what I had gotten myself into until I gave the thumbs up and the winch pull kicked it full speed. Then I began barreling down towards the rail seeing nothing the top of it and I really was not ready, so at the last second I decided to abort mission and hop out onto the side. That was the most scared I had ever been in my entire life hitting a rail on my kiteboard.
I had to sit out for a bit and think about whether or not I really wanted to hit this thing, because I wasn’t satisfied with my first attempt. After about 10 minutes on the sidelines I had mentally prepared myself and was ready to give it another go. This time I was ready! Gave the thumbs up and I was feeling good, ended up getting a great first hit, nothing technical but I made it all the way across, so I was stoked ! That’s really all I needed, one good hit.
I was ready to call it a day, but no one was waiting to go after me. So I figured why not give it one more go… Bad idea, I wasn’t really focused so I ended up having a bad line which resulted in me getting a mediocre hit and coming up short, I was coming off the rail board first but then my board hooked on a beanbag that they had along the side of the rail which then send me into a cartwheel and I ended up hitting my head on the ground and busting it open a little, and before I realized what happen I was sitting the water with blood running down my face. Not believing what just happen.
It was a pretty mean wipeout definitely the worst wipeout I have ever had. I remember I started to lose my vision a little bit after it happen, I could see and hear, but everything just looked super bight like if I had cranked up the contrast too much on my eyes. Luckily there was a lady there that had some medical experience and took care of me until I got to the Hospital.
I felt a lot better by the time I got to the hospital, my neck was hurting more than my head. I was a little worried that I might have fractured my neck when I landed on my head but the doctor checked me out and said everything was alright, nothing was fractured or broken and I didn’t need stitches. I was quite relieved. He ended up just gluing the skin back together, and sent me on my way.
The trip ended with a bang but I had fun the entire time I was in the UK. This trip has left me with a lot of good memories and I ended up taking home 3rd place in the Park Jam. I’m pretty happy with that.
I would like to say thanks to everyone who made this trip possible: Paul Hartland, Branson Belle, Tona Ozone and the guys at The Rhosneigr Slider Jam.