Tide Chasing – The Malle Mile Beach Race 2021




Images and Words by Kevin Bennett

In 2020, the defining feature of The Malle Mile Beach Race was always going to be the weather.. the wild, horrific and awesome weather – motorcycles, riders, marshals, spectators and us photographers were all being battered by 49mph gale-force winds, mini sand storms and 10ft waves, as the race carried on regardless.

For 2021, the weather was a much more level playing field and mother nature was very kind to us this year – not hot, with moments of sunshine, but it was dry at least (mercifully for my photography gear). So what would be the defining feature of this years race?

Could it be the new Malle Beach Race Gallery? Situated perfectly on the boardwalk, over looking the race track, the art exhibition, the music… Could it be the star studded line-up of Malle Mile Royalty? Would it be the epic racing and the new race events? All came very close to being that defining thread that connected all of the riders and this years beach race experience together, but there was just one thing that would stand-out this Malle weekend.. The unrelenting, earlier than scheduled.. the powerful Margate tide!

Most photography assignments come down to two things – where to stand and the subject matter – the former is down to me, to position myself between bikes and tide, without getting too wet and covered in sand. Luckily, the latter is taken care of by the Malle team – and event after event, they seem to nail it every time and attract a wonderful array of wild machines, in wild places, with even wilder riders have have true grit and bags full of character.

Not only is it complete madness, that there are 250+ motorcycles on the beach, but they’re racing at full whack, scrambling, sliding, wheelie-ing and Motopolo-ing.. All whilst the tide closes in around them and forces the masses to retreat up the beach, another few meters every few minutes – finally washing away the tyre marks and the race tracks as if nothing had happened. By late afternoon, all motorcycles were quickly off the beach, the Margate sunbathers had returned to enjoy the sunshine and it was as if the race had never existed at all!

For me though, capturing the already-mad spectacle that is Motopolo on a beach, whilst an island forms around the pitch and the chaotic match by the creeping waters, will live long in my memory – seeing The Duke of London himself splashing through the waves, chasing a MotoPolo ball on his utterly ridiculous.. and utterly fantastic custom vintage pink Barbie Trike for reference.. and that’s what this wild race is all about and you won’t find it anywhere else in the world!

So for this year’s Malle Mile Beach Race, the tide may have cut the fun a little shorter than we all hoped, but what a race to be a small part of and to try capture – from the privileged view point of the race photographer.

Kevin Bennett Photography >

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