Rob Kent – Q & A


Rob Kent answers a few questions about his past experiences with the race.

1.  Who has inspired you in your windsurfing?

I have been windsurfing a long time and in the 80's there was only one real 'God of windsurfing' and that was Robby Naish.
From the UK names like Dave Hackford (our 1st Olympian), Mark Woods, Steve Keightley, Barrie Edgington and Dee Caldwell spring to mind.

2.  What is special about the Round Hayling Island Race?

I first entered the Round Hayling back in 1986 and it was one of my first regattas on the South Soast (I come from East Kent). Apart from the beautiful surroundings and the buzz of 500 entries, it is a great challenge with bridges, sandbars, ferries, tides and tactics and on a windy day, big waves on the sea front. Having said that it is a challenge that, given with the excellent race organisation and safety cover, is within the grasp of many windsurfers and always delivers a great sense of personal achievement. I have never seen anyone finish the event without a smile on their faces.
In my case, with a windsurfing wife and teenage daughters, it's a challenge for the whole family.

3.  How many times have you won & what has been your best time so far?

The race was revived in 2009, which, in spite of many early attempts, in the 80's and 90's was the first time I had won the event.
In 2010, we had winds over 30 knots allowing Guy Cribb to show off his impressive skills on a slalom board to win the event and I think set a new Island Record.
Subsequent to that I have won the last 4 events.
I suspect that the record for most wins in their class probably falls to Annette rather than me who has been 1st lady in all the events since 2009.
Interestingly I think I am most proud of the 3rd place I achieved back in 1987 among a fleet of 500 competitors, including a number of international competitors.
As for my fastest time, I am really not sure, it was probably in 2010 when I finished about 10 mins behind Guy in 2nd place.

4.  What were the conditions like when you achieved your best time?

Scary. We set off down to Northney in about 30 knots of wind on almost a dead run.
As we got into Langstone Harbour the wind squalled to over 35knots flattening almost the whole fleet, with the possible exception of Guy. Much to my relief the wind dropped away as we approached the ferry boat at the entrance to Langstone Harbour (all the way down to about 10 knots!). As we got onto the sea front, in a massive swell, the wind build back up to an exciting 18-20 knots to blow us flat out back to HISC.

5.  Who has been your toughest competitor so far?

Plainly in the wind of 2010 the legend that is Guy Cribb (who I have raced on and off since the late 80's) wiped the floor with me.

In the early years the round Hayling was a who's who of British windsurfing, including Dee Caldwell, Barrie Edgington, Peter Hart.

6.  Your wife Annette and daughters Rebecca & Emily are also accomplished windsurfers – Do you think that they might take the “Kent Crown” from you?

Given Annette is a former Raceboard World Champion and a many times (and current) National Champion this is always a serious risk to our otherwise happy marriage. I think the difference in maximum sail size for men (9.5) and ladies (8.5) has saved my dignity on many occasions (but not every occasion!) over the years.

As for my girls, they both moved up to 8.5 sails at the end of last season resulting in the simultaneous rewarding and depressing result of having to try and catch them up after they beat me to the windward mark in a couple races - watch this space in 2015!

Rob on his way to winning the 2012 edition of the race.

7. Which has been your most rewarding race so far and why?

2 spring to mind

1) 1987 as a 19 year old coming 3rd out of a fleet of 500 chasing Barrie Edgington ( a windsurfing 'God') to the finish line

2) after 23 years of trying, finally winning the event in 2009.

Rob and daughters


21/3/2015 13:20


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For many Hayling is considered the spiritual home of windsurfing, and the Round Hayling Island Race a great celebration of the sport First staged in 1980, the 14 miles circumnavigation can take anything from 60 minutes to 6 hours. Recent years have seen the inclusion of Open Canoes and Stand Up Paddle Boards (SUP).
Competitors will have the choice of three different course lengths from 4.5 miles up to the 14 mile circumnavigation.

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