Estimated reading time: 3 minutes
The first of its kind, the Flite Enduro Race took place on June 10 in the UK featuring a thrilling competition between six competitors. Rob Wylie, Toby Irons, Tom Court, Chemmy Alcott, Gemma Soloman and Wayne Janse Van Rensberg battled for the top position. The 15 mile crossing from Needles on the Isle of Wight to Sandbanks, Poole put their endurance, speed and strategic skills to the test.
Rob Wylie and Toby Irons conceived the idea of a distance race that would challenge their abilities and encourage them to push the limits on Fliteboard. From there, the coordination efforts began and many in the Flite community generously contributed their time, boats, fuel and enthusiasm to make the event a reality.
On race day, the sun was shining and everyone was happy to be out on the water. As the boats approached the starting point, the 2 minute warning rang out and quiet descended, the air electric with anticipation.
As the riders hit the initial markers, the water got choppy with strong tidal movement. It proved to be a humbling start, “especially with the competitive air of wanting to try and speed through it but knowing that would more than likely lead to another fall,” said Gemma Soloman.
Around the 4 mile mark, Rob Wylie encountered some seaweed and fell off, allowing Tom Court to take the lead. It was the first of many times they would trade the top spot. “The most challenging part for sure is the technical aspect of speed versus battery life, determining fast to go and what tactics to use,” said Tom. “Also making sure that you have chosen the right setup and equipment to keep pace with the other riders is critical... the competition is so close that even a tiny mistake can make a significant difference!!”
One of the most memorable moments of the race occurred when Chemmy Alcott was joined by a playful dolphin for 5 minutes. It was “the perfect distraction from the screaming pain in my legs!” Despite all the challenges faced, it was an energetic and vibrant atmosphere. “Everyone from the riders to all the support crew were in such great spirits, it really added to the whole enjoyment of the day,” said Wayne Janse Van Rensberg.
Ultimately, there could only be one winner, and the coveted first place was secured by Rob Wylie. “After catching up to Tom I decided to go faster to build a lead. I needed that advantage towards the end as I had to slow down a lot to conserve battery. It ended up being close.” Rob says his greatest learning was “to have a game plan but also be able to adapt it to the riding conditions and the race as it unfolded.”
Co-organizer Toby Irons reflected on the event: “All in all, everyone had an amazing time and there was a really good buzz in the air, with most people asking, ‘when's the next one?’”
Check out what everyone was riding on race day:
- Rob Wylie’s setup: Fliteboard ULTRA L, 80cm mast, Flitecell Explore, Flyer 800 wing, Race stabilizer, 0 shim
- Tom Court’s setup: Fliteboard ULTRA L, 75cm mast, Flitecell Explore, Race wing set, 0 shim
- Toby Irons’ setup: Fliteboard ULTRA, 75cm mast, Flitecell Explore, Flyer 800 wing, Flow 245 stabilizer, 1 shim
- Chemmy Alcott’s setup: Fliteboard PRO, 75cm mast, Flitecell Explore, Flyer 800 wing, Flow 245 stabilizer, 0 shim
- Gemma Soloman’s setup: Fliteboard PRO, 75cm mast, Flitecell Explore, Flyer 800 wing, Flow 245 stabilizer, 1 shim
- Wayne Janse Van Rensberg’s setup: Fliteboard PRO, 75cm mast, Flitecell Explore, Cruiser 1100 wing, Flite 290 stabilizer, 3 shim