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Last weekend over three hundred of you made the journey to Roadford Lake in Devon to celebrate the super sweet sixteenth birthday of our favourite student windsurfing festival, Aussie Kiss. It was a weekend of wind, rain, and quite a lot of mud, but us windsurfers are a sturdy bunch, and we didn't let the weather hold us back. Having now returned to the comforts of four walls, radiators and duvets, it's time to reflect back on the weekend in an attempt to beat the PED (that's Post Event Depression, if you weren't sure).

Things kicked off on the Friday, with minibuses, kit vans, a selection of cars and a stray coach arriving across the evening, ready for the first big night in the party tent. A special mention goes to the University of Limerick, who not only had to get on an actual plane to get there, but were also unfortunately involved in a car accident on the drive from the airport. They didn't let this hold them back however, and made it in time for the party. As the rain came down, the final tents were pitched and everyone migrated to the spectacular dome tent for a wild night of catching up with old friends and getting to know new ones, under the influence of some great music and the second most abundant fluid of the night (after the rain): alcohol.

  

The next morning revealed a few sorry looking tents and more than a few hungover faces, but the promise of bacon and windsurfing drew enough people down to the lake for a briefing at 10 (ish). From here, free sailing was open all day, with some pretty flashy tricks being demonstrated by some of our more advanced members, and loads more of you out making the most of the incredible wind conditions (cheers, Brian).  Thanks to one of our incredible sponsors, Boardwise, there was enough kit for everyone to get out and have a go, with some great tips provided by the lovely Club Vass instructors in the intermediate and advanced clinics.

   

Over on the Mark Warner Beginner Beach, we had a seriously impressive turnout from the freshers this year. Undeterred by the wind and cold, they went out under the supervision of our fabulous team of instructors, who whispered words of encouragement such as "if you can even pull the sail up in this wind, you're doing amazing." A valid point, well made - the conditions were tough, but our freshers were tougher (and also thankfully attached to a lovely, long piece of rope).

   

As the rain continued to fall and the day drew to a close, many of us escaped to nearby pubs to warm up and refuel before a second night of antics. The locals definitely looked a bit shocked as droves of muddy students stumbled into bars demanding hot food, but that lasagne and chips tasted like the stuff of dreams and I have no regrets about napping on one of the sofas, so sorry, not sorry locals.

Revitalised and ready to party again, we returned to the campsite to assemble an array of fancy dress costumes under the theme of Sweet Sixteenth: Spoilt Rotten. We had music from a bunch of DJ’s, so thanks Leo, Jamie, Charlie and Ollie for the tunes. In true SWA style, we partied pretty hard and things got messy (there was a lot of mud, okay?). We had tiaras, party hats, a lot of glitter, and some celebrity appearances. But of course it wouldn't be an SWA event without nudity, so don't panic, that was there too.

We thought the chaos of Saturday morning couldn't be topped, but Sunday revealed even more damage (to tents and dignity alike), but with a day of racing and competition ahead, we headed to the lake for one more day of windsurfing…

  

Things kicked off with the team racing; each uni put forward a team (or two and a stray) of their three best windsurfers to relay race around a mark and back to the shore. Three heats were held, with the top two teams from each heat securing a place in the Final. The first heat saw Birmingham 1 and Nottingham take the first two spots, with Plymouth 1 and Bristol 2 taking the lead in the second heat, and finally Sheffield and Liverpool securing the final two spots in the third heat. There were some impressive performances from all but in a very tense Final (featuring lots of pumping), we saw Birmingham sail their way into first place, taking home £250 for their club (courtesy of one of our brilliant sponsors, Mark Warner). They were closely followed by Nottingham in second place, and Plymouth in third place.

  

Next up was the freestyle competition, and, with the wind dropping, we had seven intrepid windsurfers take to the stage for this event to show off their best light wind tricks. With people doing the splits, climbing inside their booms, and detaching their sails left, right and centre, it was a tough competition. In the end first place went to Simon Williams from Sheffield, followed by Bristol's Matt Duffin in second, and Sam Scarratt from Plymouth in third.

  

When the kit was finally packed away, we all gathered for one last time to hand out the prizes for the team racing and freestyle, as well as a few extra awards. After all the rain we all found ourselves hugely jealous of Hannah Glatzel for winning 50% off the SWA Odyssey trip to Vassiliki, thanks to Shaka Student Travel. The Keenest Beginner award went to Abi Christopher from Plymouth, for her impressive enthusiasm throughout the weekend despite the weather, and the award for Best Instructor went to Ben Connor from Leeds, who put in so much time on the Mark Warner Beginner Beach, winning a free instructor course at Colwyn Bay Watersports for his club. Finally, the “Taffy Osborne Award” (for intrepid shenanigans) was announced as going to the University of Limerick, for their amazing commitment to AK, however they had unfortunately already had to leave by this point to catch a bus home.

So with the prize giving all wrapped up, it was finally time to say our goodbyes and head home for hot showers and an actual, proper bed. One final thanks to all of our brilliant sponsors, to the wonderful people at Roadford Lake for looking after us both on and off the water, and to all of you lovely lot for sticking with us through what must be the windiest and wettest Aussie Kiss on record! Until next time…

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