Battle Of Hastings 2020 Is Happening! (An Interview) – Our BMX

With every event being factually cancelled right now, we fiiiinallly have a bit of good news. Source BMX announced this morning that Battle Of Hastings is officially approved and happening. We hit up Richard Moore to find out how they’re gonna pull the event off and what we can look forward to…

Sergio Layos. Photo: Jeff Z

2020 has been a hell of a year so far, but great news is that, for the fifth year in a row, The Battle of Hastings is on this year. What are the dates that have been locked in?
Definitely a crazy year and not what we expected for BOH 5! We’re locked in for September 4-6th

With Covid 19 being a global pandemic and many laws in place to restrict events, under what premise is Source BMX able to put on this event and what guidelines have been put in place by the EU?
To be honest, rules are changing so fast that it’s hard to keep up or figure out what guidelines apply to us. However, BOH falls under ‘Elite Sport’ in the UK so we’re able to hold events providing there is no crowd and we follow extra safety and hygiene procedures.

What measures will be taken to keep riders and staff safe?
There are lots of things but the main one is social distancing. We are having to arrange the building, the hotel, and the whole event around people being six feet apart. It’s strange for an event that normally crams hundreds of people inside the building, but it’s manageable and we have a lot of space to use. We will also be putting plenty of other measures in place to keep everyone as safe as possible; from full PPE for the paramedics to sanitizer dispensers all around the building.

Dan Lacey. Photo: Jeff Z

How many teams will there be and who are the captains? What’s different about the process this year versus years past?
There will be eight teams instead of the usual 12, but the format will stay pretty much the same. We have less teams due to the travel restrictions in place and because it’s way easier to social distance with less people; from riders not having to share a hotel room to there being no line at the bars. We’re stoked that the tradition continues to bring back the winning team from last year as captains – Sergio Layos, Courage Adams, Simone Barraco and Tom Justice. Then we have chosen Stu Chisholm, Alex Kennedy, Ben Wallace and Kilian Roth to make up the eight.

The European Union just announced a travel ban for the USA, Russia, and a few other countries. Are you guys going to try to get a few select riders over for the event or is it not an option at all?
It’s super complicated and the situation is changing almost daily. A few months ago, it looked like BOH wouldn’t be happening at all so we’re stoked that we have an event. The current travel restrictions are complicated for the UK—which isn’t part of the EU anymore—but as of Mid-July, it looks like European based riders will be able to travel freely to the UK without quarantining. US visitors have never been banned from the UK but have to quarantine for two weeks on arrival, so it’s not a realistic option.

It’s possible that Australians and Canadians may be free to travel soon which would be amazing but it’s looking like the US will take a while longer. We don’t have any inside information so from reading about everything in the media, the UK is negotiating reciprocal agreements between various countries but it’s not looking like the US will open its borders to Europeans soon; or vice versa. We’re going to miss a lot of our American riders and friends this year for sure, but from a livestream viewing perspective it will be a very similar event.

Garrett Reynolds. Photo: Jeff Z

What’s the status of the Wildcard Team and the video contest? How have the video parts played into this given the travel restrictions?
Unfortunately, we’ve had to cancel our July qualifier event at the park and there hasn’t been an Uncovered or Swampfest to qualify so we wont have a qualifier/wildcard team this year. The video contest we ran this Spring was rad and we couldn’t believe we had 20+ entries considering the global lockdown. The BOH judges are judging it soon but we’ve decided that it’s only fair that the winner will be invited to BOH 2021 instead…when (hopefully) there are no travel restrictions. We’ll be announcing the winners and more info on that soon.

We won’t have a legends team this year either unfortunately, but it will definitely be back for 2021.

The event will be limited to riders and staff, so that means all focus will be on the live stream. Where and when can everyone tune in?Initially the idea of no crowd banging on the barriers felt strange, but in reality 95% of the spectators enjoying BOH are viewing the online show! Many of the riders are also stoked on the idea of a more private contest which we imagine will bring out some unreal riding! Over the next couple of months you can expect regular updates on the live show, its presenters, where you can view it, and more, so be sure to check out our socials @SourceBMX, Sign up to our newsletter and also check out the dedicated pages on our website SOURCEBMX.COM/BOH

Are there any other changes with the event itself? Changes to the park itself or maybe some format changes?
We had plans for big park changes this year but then the virus hit and the park has been completely off-limits for the past few months; not to mention that Cambian, who CNC our ramps, have had to close through lockdown. We’re still going to make some additions to the park but they’ll be a lot more DIY than usual; we’re actually pretty excited about what we’ve come up with.

It seems like the easier path would be to just to postpone til 2021…why is it important for you guys to take the more difficult path of making this event happen this year?
We believe that BMX needs contests for so many reasons and it would have been irresponsible of us to walk away when there’s a possibility of holding one. Because we are in total control of the venue, and don’t make a profit from the event, it’s a lot easier for us to be flexible and leave things late to make decisions. Organizing is definitely a lot more stressful and last minute than usual but we have to do it—it’s not in our nature to take the easy option and cancel!

Who are the sponsors still committed to making this event happen this year, even with the new guidelines in place?
It’s incredible that the sponsors have all stuck by us and the event. They truly believe in it and are invested in BMX so they want It to happen as much as we do. All of them stuck by their financial commitment, despite the restrictions and risks of further changes, and we will never forget that. It would have been easier for them to walk away but they all miss events and know how important they are for riders and the whole BMX community. Plus we go back a long way with our sponsors, so I think they trust us to do the best job possible under really difficult conditions. A huge thank you goes out to Vans, Monster Energy, Vero, BSD, Cambian, Cinema, Eclat, Fly, GT, KINK, Odyssey, Profile, Protec, and Wethepeople for all the support!

Boyd Hilder. Photo: Jeff Z

Traditionally, we hold NORA Cup during BOH weekend. We’re still up in the air about what we should do this year…should we join the livestream with you guys? 
Fuck yeah!! We’re going to miss having beers with everyone at NORA, but let’s keep it going and make up for the party at next year’s NORA.

Before we end this, I do want to say thanks. The event is a heavy undertaking on its own and I could only imagine how stressful it is making something happen under such restrictions. So really, thank you. Now that I’ve gotten that out… Did I miss anything that you guys would like to discuss?
No, thanks for the interview! We wish you were all going to be here in person this September 4th-6th but you can rest assured we have something special in store for the live streamed events! Stay tuned…

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Just a BMX rider making a website that compiles all the BMX news into one source. Live to ride, not surf the web.

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