July 9, 2008
Windsurfers get upside down at Hatteras Loop Fest
By ANNE C. BOWERS
“Looping - it’s this big, mystical thing of windsurfing,” says Bill Bell of Nags Head.
He did his first loop in April, 2007, which motivated him to put
something together to help others get over the hurdle of trying a
In layman’s terms, a forward loop is a controlled somersault or
catapult. The sailor needs to hit a water ramp to get the board off the
water and then rotate the rig forward, hopefully landing back in the
same position after completing the rotation.
Bill runs a blog called OBX Beach Life, which is mostly devoted to
windsurfing. At the beginning of 2008, he put up a poll asking
readers to list their top windsurfing goal for the year. Doing a
forward loop was the overwhelming winner among the readers. Bill
then decided to organize a looping contest and organize some beginner
clinics to help more windsurfers do this fancy trick.
Loop Fest was born, and it ran through the entire month of June. It
consisted of three parts. The first part was a series of clinics
to educate riders on how to do a forward loop. The second part was
“commit fest,” in which the learning loopers spent time on
the water with the instructors and other sailors who could loop. This
is when they would actually try to huck a forward.
“Seeing other people loop helps get people over the hurdle of
committing to that first attempt,” Bill explains.
“There is a lot of mental fear.”
To sweeten the experience, Bill supplied a Go Pro waterproof video
camera that mounted to the tip of the mast and pointed down at the
rider so the beginners could see their facial expressions as they
attempted their first loop.
The Loop-Off was the third element of the Hatteras Loop Fest, which was
a competition of the experienced loopers. It was initially
scheduled for June 22, but the lack of wind pushed it back a week.
Twenty-seven learners and loopers signed up for Loop Fest, according to
Bill. George Markopoulos and Ken Kellar achieved their dream of doing a
“These were guys who never looped before but always wanted to,” says Bill.
Andy McKinney of Sail World in Avon was a key player in the clinic. His instruction was an integral part of the event.
Additionally, Avon Sail House and Ocean Air, both in Avon, helped Bill
with parts of Loop Fest by providing equipment, meeting places and
Five local sailors competed in the Loop Off, which was held at Ego
Beach, located on the oceanside across from Canadian Hole. After
a month of marginal winds, a Bermuda high generated some decent
southwest winds for the contestants. The sailors rode 5.0 to 5.7
sails, which is on the big side for looping. There were a
relatively large number of onlookers and photographers on the beach to
Because of the small number of entrants, the contest had only one heat
that lasted 30 minutes. The judging was very informal with no
real criteria or rules. There were five categories and the
winners were easy to pick.
The overall winner, aka Loop King, was Keith McCulloch of Avon.
He had an outstanding session of tricks and wave riding. It was
The winner of the most spectacular loop award was Jeff Jones of
Buxton. The amazing element of his performance was that he was
riding a slalom board.
Andy McKinney of Avon got the trophy for most loops and event organizer, Bill Bell, got an award for the best crash.
Donny Bowers won the Loop Off master’s trophy, basically because
he was the oldest looper in the contest. At the award party,
which was held at Ocean Air in Avon, Bill told the group that Donny was 10
years older than the next oldest contestants and was still out there
Each winner received a great looking trophy with fantastic graphics
done by Lauren Nassetta of Nags Head. The trophy was shaped like
a wave and said “Hatteras Loop Fest - Ready to Rotate?!!
T-shirts were made for all participants.
There was no entry fee and the event was mostly funded through sponsorships.
“I shoestring tied this thing together, and I was amazed at how
many people came out and supported it. I put it on my Web site
and put out a call for sponsors. Everyone was amped for the
event, maybe because there hasn’t been a windsurfing competition
in Hatteras for a long time.”
In addition to the three local windsurfing shops that supported Loop
Fest, several national companies jumped on-board: DaKine, Go Pro
Cameras, Quatro, New England Windsurfing Journal, Iwindsurf, ka Sails,
and Windsurfdeal.com. Bill gives a lot a credit for the
event’s success to the fact that it was well sponsored.
On the heels of this successful Loop Fest, Bill is already looking
forward to organizing more windsurfing contests on Hatteras.
Currently, he is hoping for a wave event in mid- to
late-September. He also plans to do some more polling on his Web
site to see what people want in a competition -- maybe a speed or long
Future events will most likely have paid registration and be a little
more organized, Bill predicts. He is also researching the
possibility of getting some celebrity windsurfing pros to Hatteras for
a May competition.
Kudos to Bill Bell for all his hard work and great ideas.
For more information, check out OBX Beach Life, http://obxbeachlife.blogspot.com/
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