Camp Bestival – The best place for blue skies and big backflips

Camp Bestival is best known for being one of the best family festivals, set in the picturesque grounds of Lulworth Castle in Dorset. In the middle of this festival is the giant Freesports Park, to which some of greatest names in mountainboarding were invited.
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After passing warnings signs for tanks crossing and random gun fire, James Wanklyn, Ben Tweedie and I rocked up to the festival camp site on Wednesday evening. Despite arriving well into the evening, it was already possible to see the monster-sized roll in ramp looming over all the other stalls. It wasn’t until I was standing at the top of the roll in on Thursday morning that I got the true feeling of how monster-sized it actually was. These guys were going to go huge.

During Thursday the hustle and bustle of stalls and festival getting set up was still going on which gave James and Ben the perfect time to have quarter pipe session to get into the swing of things; Ben pulling out some graceful 360s and 180 Melons and James throwing down some laid-out back flips and treating us to a McTwist or two. Eventually the sun got the better of us and we retreated back for some grub.

Friday morning saw the arrival Rhys Crilley, Sam Nicholas and the Trampa gang just in time to provide the kit for the hire and ride sessions. The hire and ride consisted of 9 sessions throughout the weekend where the kids could book in to jump on a board and learn how to be as cool as Mick Kirkman. By Friday all 9 sessions were booked out and by the end of the weekend James, Rhys, Ben and Sam managed to get some of the kids trying grabs and 180s off rampage ramps.

Before we all knew it, 3 o’clock hit and it was demo time. As Rhys pumped up the crowd on the mic, James, Sam and Ben took to the roll in. This was the second visit to the Freesports Park for Rhys, James and Sam but the first time for Ben. This didn’t stop Ben Tweedie pulling out some huge 3s and his old trademark backflip. Ironside’s James Wanklyn gob-smacked the crowd with his floaty backflips and superman frontflips whilst Sam Nicholas effortlessly grabbed his backflips with his usual great style. Will Watson also joined in the action, landing some super low flips.

Mick Kirkman, Jamie Johnstone and Theo Acworth joined us on the Saturday which featured two demos throughout the day. The first demo, at 3o’clock kicked off with a Break Dance vs Old Skool dance off and a Free Runner vs Mountain Bike Trials long jump competition. This got the crowd going for the Mountain Bikers and Boarders. It looked as though they were having a battle of their own, with James matching the Biker’s Barrel Roles with Rodeos and Sam and Ben both sending huge backflips. Mick pulled off some huge 540s and a 720 next to the crowd doing a well timed Mexican Wave, prompted by Rhys on the mic. Saturday ended with a late ‘sunset’ demo and James backflipping over one of the Break Dancers. This set the mood nicely for a night on the home brew cider with Kool and the Gang.

Sunday features the last of the demos on the Freesports Park, but probably the biggest of them all. Sam immediately broke out his backflips in his trademark style on his first run, James pulled off the biggest frontflips I’ve ever seen, landing half way down the landing and Kirk and Ben were looking more confident then ever, pulling off huge spins and grabs. The crowd was the biggest crowd we had seen all weekend and went crazy when James launched himself to backflip over Andy Potter, the Freesports Park owner and Mick smoothly knocking a helmet out of Andy’s hand with a frontside shifty.

This put a spectacular ending to a weekend full of amazing riding. It was a huge privilege to be there and see it, it definitely not one to miss for next years Camp Bestival.

Thanks to Andy Rolfe for the words and the awesome photos