Games organisers hope for long term benefits

Joseph Bulmer

Atlantic Watersports Games put North Devon on the map

North Devon’s Atlantic Watersports Games have been hailed a great success, with organisers on the crest of a wave, confident that the legacy of this major event will be to highlight the region both to sports lovers and potential visitors across Europe.

The games provided a showcase for the region as more than 300 young enthusiasts from Britain, France, Portugal and Spain did sporting battle on the beaches, in the surf and on the river.

Bideford provided the centrepiece, hosting both the opening and closing ceremonies, plus nightly live music and a big screen to relay images of each day’s events.

Saunton, Croyde, Westward Ho! and Roadford Reservoir all provided other venues for the four days of rowing, sailing, surfing, sea and surf kayaking, surf life saving, kite surfing and wind surfing events.

Laura Holt of organisers North Devon + said they were very pleased with how things went and that there had been comments within the games’ international committee about how good the organisation had been and how good the town of Bideford and the volunteer helpers were in making it happen.

The focus was on water sports and on cultural exchange. The sports organisations had worked hard to deliver the games, she said. And amid the contestants she was sure there were some future Olympians.

But the games had also been a showcase for the area, with Bideford as a perfect location for an event of this size. The town had comfortably accommodated more than 3,000 people for the opening ceremony and had been brought alive by the music and entertainment, she said.

“The key thing is the long term benefit of hosting the games in Bideford and the other North Devon venues, putting this area on the map, not just for those interested in water sports, but perhaps as a place to live.”

Brittany were the overall winners with 13 gold medals, followed closely by Devon with 11 and Cornwall with nine. Of the 80-strong Devon team, 65 members were from North Devon.

The closing ceremony and presentation of prizes again filled Bideford Quay last Thursday night.

For some it was the delight of picking up their prizes, while others had travelled long distances especially to see the special attraction of Reidy, Maxi and Troy of the popular Sky Television show Bondi Rescue, who handed out the surf prizes and did book signings and a photo call. Earlier in the week the trio had carried out tag-team and sun safety demonstrations on the beaches.