The Crackling, Hog Hill – 24th-25th May 2014

The Crackling is the first major Hog Hill event of the year and signals the start of the UK slalom racing season. Once again the UKSSA teamed up with Timmy Peters of Das Industries to organise the weekends Longboard and Downhill elements.

Saturday began under heavy skies with scattered showers thrown in for good measure, unperturbed skaters were arriving at Hog Hill in their droves. Among those present and making their first trip to Hog Hill was Alan Featherstone son of Derek. In the late 70’s and 80’s, Derek was very active at promoting slalom especially at Brands Hatch, and he was also responsible for starting the 100 cone 6′ straight world record.

Another shower delayed set up but once the rain did finally stop the place became a hive of activity. Kickers were being assembled, slalom courses were being marked – and coffee and tea were being consumed in great quantities!

 We decided that given the weather conditions we might try to run the Giant Slalom first, the proviso being that if the weather perked up we would run the Hybrid as usual. Only there was a problem with the normal hill; a constant stream of water was running across it from the central grass area. After a bit of impromptu on the spot engineering and a piece of wood the source of the stream had been dammed and diverted leaving the track to dry.

With the GS set we began some practice runs, but just 4 or 5 runs in the rain came back with a vengeance. The rain turned to hail and everyone went diving for cover, many, myself included, jumped into the back of the Octane van. In the van the sound of the hail falling was amplified to the level of machine gunfire as it fell on the roof – it was deafening. Thankfully it didn’t last long and it began to ease, the clouds started to clear allowing the sun to peep through in places but after such a soaking and with very little breeze the track was going to take a long time to dry.

While everyone was standing around Paul Coupe treated us to an impromptu “show and tell” with items from his collection kicking off with a very nice Benjyboard Marc Sinclair model, a recent acquisition. But the Pièce de résistance was his Turner Collection – now with the addition of a bespoke Turner flight case purchased from “Mr Octane”.  

Not to be out done Alan had also bought something along to the party secreted within a very fine Robinak Pack – itself a great talking point. In it was a Santa Cruz Cutaway with split-axle H.P.G. IV Gull Wings and a very early John Hutson graphite loaded model fitted with some Speedflex “Lazer” copies and OJ’s. Jim Slater recognised the board by its construction as one of the Hutson prototypes. He was more excited by it than he was Paul’s Turner Blackbird! 

Turner “Show ‘n’ Tell” time.

The track was drying slowly and only leather clad downhillers ventured out along with the a few sliders. It was clear that the day was over as far as any slalom was concerned. We said our goodbyes and headed back to the campsite full of optimism for Sunday. 

Despite an initially cloudy start the weather gods smiled upon us and Sunday turned out to be a real scorcher at Hog Hill.

We opted to squeeze the GS at the start of the day ahead of the scheduled 12pm slide jam not everyone took part in the GS so it could be run relatively quickly. After the course had been checked over by Mmedo and Louis the practice session began for those taking part. However this was bought to an abrupt halt when Amaury wiped out on the tricky course dislocating his shoulder in the process. Our First Aiders were called to the scene and an ambulance duly called. Little did we know then but this would be the first of 3 call-outs for the Essex Paramedics in what would turn out to be a fairly incident filled day. As the ambulance arrived another casualty was already sat in the reception area awaiting attention. Thankfully we only suffered the one major incident of the day although Mmedo did leave some skin on the hybrid course later in the day. 

With time ticking away and Amaury receiving attention on the GS hill we switched to running the Hybrid so as not to interfere with Jorge’s Slide Jam or use of the chicane for the downhillers. Qualifying went off very quickly and after just short of an hour we were ready to start the A group which was cut to the top 8 qualifiers. The pairings would be Louis vs Cyprien, Mmedo vs Chris “Chabs”, Harry vs Newtons Shred’s Alex Ireton and Sam vs Tim Neal.

Mmedo and Chris had a good battle with Mmedo taking the first heat. But he took a slam when Chris hesitated and failed to start leaving Mmedo running the course solo. Convinced that something was wrong with the start he lost concentration for a split second and stacked it.  Clearly shaken from his ordeal he patched himself up and we agreed to re-run the heat. Chris took the second run but it was Mmedo that advanced to the round of four to face Louis by a margin of just 0.33.
The fall had taken its toll on Mmedo and a double DQ against Louis would see him in the Consolation round with Sam. The final between Louis and Harry produced some great racing, in the first run Louis took it by just 0.01 after Harry hit two cones to his one. The second run produced two first class clean runs but only one could emerge victorious and this time it was Harry, just 0.04 the overall difference. In the consolation round Sam won over a battle weary Mmedo to claim 3rd place.

The B group was made up of the 13 remaining riders; a round of 16 with byes was run to reach the final 8. The end of the course was proving tricky for some and causing a few DQ’s due to a “gimme” cone making you think that you had gone wrong somewhere? After a couple of hiccups with the F1 starter and a running repair of the timer “On” switch we were soon down the finals.
The man of a thousand boards Paul Coupe would be up againstDreadCity’s finest – John Nicholas. The consolation round was a clash of BSA  team mates Richard Searle and Gavin Palfrey.

Maybe it was the pressure that got to him but a DQ by Paul in the first heat left too big a gap to make up and John went on to take the top podium spot. In the Consolation round despite Gav going in all guns blazing Richard emerged victorious taking the final podium place. 

After two previous attempts at starting the Giant S would it be a case of third time lucky?  Could we run it through to its conclusion? With the start ramp in place the timing connected we were ready to race.

There were a couple of well placed off-sets that if you took them wrong really threw you off line. The sound of sliding wheels was common place as riders pushed the envelope of traction and speed to gain what could be crucial fractions of a second on the testing course. An epic battle raged for the top four spots but once again it would be Harry that took 1st place with a really impressive clean run time of 22.77, then just pipping his Pavel team mate was Sam with 22.87 with just one cone penalty, 3rd was Louis with 23.22 and in 4th was Mmedo on 23.49.

Mmedo bombing the GS

 Despite the rained out Saturday and a bumpy start to Sunday we managed to fit everything in and enjoyed a full day of skating.

The beaten, the blooded, the bruised and the sun-burnt but happy army of skaters gathered around for the weekends prize-giving and schwag toss.

Our slalom racing was sponsored by Octane Sport and by our recently added sponsors Kryptonics; apparently someone deep within UKSSA HQ has connections there? Harry scooped up a set of 65mm and a set 70mm Greens with his trophies and John Nicholas bagged some 65mm Blues with his. 

To the Victor the spoils – Harry Phelps “double bubble”!

Our thanks to:

Michael and Octane Sport for their unerring support and providing race logistics

Kryptonics – for the awesome wheels!

Sam – for his top notch work, especially all of that behind the scenes work that nobody sees but benefits everyone

Louis and Mmedo for course setting

Gavin Palfrey for timekeeping/Top Gear board work on the GS

Timmy and Louise of DAS Industries for sign up and all things longboardy

Ian Coles, Sylvia, Dave and all of the staff at Redbridge Cycling Centre
London Ambulance Service – Essex Paramedics

Coupe/Fish Limousine Service

……And finally a special big “Thank You” to everyone (you know who you are?) for assistance with set up/break-down in what was a very trying weekend at times.


The next scheduled event is Turn and Burn at Paddle Around the Pier in Brighton 5th/6th July – see you there.


The Crackling Results

Hybrid A Group

1          Harry Phelps

2          Louis Selby

3          Sam Gordon

4          Mmedo Duffort

5          Chris Charalambous

6          Tim Neal

7          Alex Ireton

8          Cyprien Dumont

Hybrid B Group

1          John Nicholas

2          Paul Coupe

3          Richard Searle

4          Gavin Palfrey

5          Jim “Nutsac” Pary Jones

6          Tony Lord

7          Mark Phelps

8          Rob Matthews

9          Daniel R.

10        Andrea Paro

11        Trevor Hickey

12        Mike Fish

13        Dill Hill

(Timekeeper: Rob Ashby)


 Giant Slalom (Raw Times)

 1          Harry Phelps – 22.77

2          Sam Gordon – 22.87

3          Louis Selby – 23.22

4          Mmedo Duffort – 23.49

5          Tim Neal – 23.84

6          Chris Charalambous – 24.77

7          Alex Ireton – 25.49

8          Jim “Nutsac” Parry Jones – 25.87

9          Richard Searle – 25.91

10        Dill Hill – 25.98

11        Paul Coupe – 26.01

 (Timekeeper: Gavin Palfrey)

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