Water sports fans make festival a big splash on its Rutland debut

Organisers hailed the first National Watersports Festival at Rutland Water a major success.

Crowds flocked to enjoy the three-day event which offered taster sessions in water sports.

Experts and novices were able to enjoy the festival (NWF) which moved to Rutland after ten years on the south coast near Portsmouth.

There were sessions offering windsurfing, kayaking and stand up paddle boarding.

While Anglian Water, which runs the reservoir, allowed scuba diving for the first time in Rutland Water as part of the event.

Organiser Allan Cross, 53, said: “The festival is not just for the experts and we hope that people tried their hands at the sports.

“It was time to move the festival somewhere new.

“We needed a location that was more suitable to allow people to try out sports.

“We also needed somewhere central in the country and Rutland Water ticks all of the boxes.

“We’ve been truly overwhelmed by the welcome and support we received at Rutland Water.

“The move to Rutland Water has completely invigorated the NWF and brought a whole new exciting chapter for us.

“We are looking to stay here and to expand the festival in the future.”

People of all ages headed to the reservoir to try the sports.

Anglian Water approved scuba diving on a small part of the reservoir.

It was run by Dive Rutland and it allowed people to explore a normally unseen part of the lake.

Many of those trying the sport thought that there might be a lost village at the bottom of the reservoir left behind when the land was flooded.

John Sinclair, 49, of Dive Rutland, said: “We are thrilled at been allowed to dive at the reservoir.

“You have to be sensible as it’s a reservoir but we hope that people will join us to dive.”

Will Kirstein, park manager at Rutland Water, said: “Scuba diving is not something that we want at the reservoir all the time.

“We were happy to offer people the opportunity to try it at the weekend.

“We have quite a good history of sports events at Rutland Water.

“People could try the sports that were on offer and they might have ended up really getting into them.

“There is the potential to grow the festival and we hope to have it at Rutland Water for the years to come.”

He added that if enough interest was shown it may be possible to establish a scuba diving club at Rutland Water.

Trade stands were also set up around the Sykes Lane site.

Businesses and sports groups from across the country were at Rutland Water.

Party nights were held on site too with local bands performing.

The Atlantics played on Friday night and The Houndogs were on stage on Saturday.

Staff from The Grainstore Brewery, in Oakham, manned the bar.

Peter Atkinson, 44, Grainstore director, said: “I am quite excited by the move to Rutland Water.

“The weekend was excellent.

“We really weren’t sure how it would pan out as it was the first year at Rutland Water but we couldn’t have asked for a better response from the watersports and local communities.”

“In future years we can look to expand it.”

Aerial acrobatics team AeroSPARX showed off their skills on Saturday.

Display pilot Rob Barsby took to the controls as his plane drew patterns in the night sky with fireworks and lights.

A former windsurfer with the GB team Rob used to practise on Rutland Water.

He said: “The display is probably something that many people will not have seen before.

“We thought that it would be cool to bring something unique to the festival.”

The festival organisers are looking for feedback on the event.

This can be left www.facebook.com/WatersportsFestival/

Results from the windsurfing races can be found online at www.windsurfingresults.co.uk/NWF2017.html