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bis_02A8549 marine hunter




Top French rider, Marine Hunter heads over to Jersey to take part in the ATKO wave competition,  (a tribute to Ian  ‘Atko’  Atkinson).  

Photos : Sue Baudains.

Are you more a rider who just sticks at the local spot or the kind of windsurfer like me, to give in to your insatiable curiosity?

As I was waiting for the French wave championship to start, I was looking into new places to visit after a short stay in the magnificent Brandon Bay earlier in November with both nuclear wind and light, fickle breeze. By chance I saw on the Windsurfing Guernsey Facebook group that a competition was to take place on Jersey in November. Luckily for my passion to see what’s happening on the next beach, on the weekend chosen for the Atko competition, the French Championship was cancelled due to lack of wind, and I decided to skip a familiar session to meet the Jersey crew and have a taste of the St Ouen Bay.


The Atko competition is a tribute to Ian  ‘Atko’  Atkinson, a passionate sailor and excellent windsurfer who founded the Jersey Association of Windsurfers. He sadly passed away in 2007 because of a heart condition at the age of 33. His legacy is ensured by locals like Andy Hart, the organizer, who work and volunteer at the sailing club to teach the young islanders to windsurf.

Andy kindly welcomed me as I came straight out of the ferry on Saturday morning, slighty confused after a short night and a long drive from Paris to St Malo, and led the way to the meeting point for the competition.


Eight riders attended the skippers meeting on the slipway and thirty minutes later everybody hit the water for a forty five minute long heat with three waves counting and added bonus points for jumps. Except me, who was going to get everything wrong for this competition.

Beautiful waves were powerfully pounding the sand on the left of the big open bay, and I rigged my Kamikaze 4.5 and my 82L Pyramid, the combo I usually use for light wind waveriding sessions in Normandy. I do have bigger kit but as a rider who’s not excellent at handling the sail I favour maneouverability when I can, especially if the waves look hungry as they did here. Everybody else had taken their 100L ships out and let their 5.3-5.8 spinnakers. The spot looked windy but no one was out and the wind was supposed to pick up, so I figured I had made the right choice and everybody else was just going to be out of control very soon.


I was on the water a few minutes late because three best waves in  forty five minutes sounded like a piece of cake for a PWA rider used to twelve minutes heats, and I was going to smash no problem.

To my great surprise, the wind felt and was 10knts lower than it looked; this observation sank in as I was barely remaining afloat while crossing the white waters. Once out, I tried to catch waves. Nada. Nope. It did not happen. The wind was too light and I was not close enough to the peak, and the wave really started to push right before it broke. I caught a few small ones close to the shore and crashed some turns; I found the wave hard to time and quite intimidating. the wind dropped a bit further, and when a big set came I could only watch with dismay the locals having the fun of their lives and fearlessly charging with their 100L and 5.8.

Now I was sufficiently enraged to start shouting back at the sea and make my cardio dangerously spike up as I tried to pump my way onto the waves. After this hilarious show of the consequences of overconfidence, I finally managed to catch a medium sized wave and make four turns on it, gave it all I got, I jibed out ready to continue the fight but the flag was put down on the ground signaling the end of the heat. That was my failed windsurfing remake of the battle of Fontenoy when the French replied to their British adversaries: ‘Messieurs les Anglais, you shoot first’. Ça, c’est fait.

Bob McAllister claimed 1st place with an extra forward loop that put him in the lead, closely followed by Justin Horton, winner of the last edition, also closely followed by Andy Hart in 3rd place. Bob offered a round of shots of the delicious Diplomatico Rhum he was awarded with and some riders went back on the water to take advantage of the low tide; a reef wave softly breaks when the swell is big enough. This time I took out my 87L and even had a few planing runs when the wind finally picked up.

Andy felt a bit guilty of not warning me of the powerful currents that kept me stuck, but I was definitely guilty of ignoring the rule of thumb of always asking the locals how it’s like out there when you turn up on a new spot, on top of lacking preparation.

Despite my bad choice of gear, and despite the homespot boys who knew their beach inside out, not letting a single good wave go to waste and being extremely competitive regardless of their laid back vibe, I somehow managed to save face and ended up 4th ex aequo with Guillaume Begue, a fellow Frenchman who did good not to listen to my forecast concerns and was steady on rigging his 5.8.

Great job guys!

Massive thanks to Andy and Laura for kindly having me over and making Jersey look so charming despite the winter weather!


1st Bob McAllister 19pts

2nd Justin Horton 19pts

3rd Andy Hart 19pts (and biggest wipeout prize)

=4th Marine Hunter 15pts

=4th Guillaume Begue 15pts

6th Pierre le Page 13pts

7th Henry Horton 11pts

8th Myles Winchester 9pts


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