Wednesday, May 27, 2009

BOARDS Magazine interview

Got a nice 3 page interview in the latest edition of BOARDS Magazine, as part of the 'Ireland Scene' by Sue Honan. Thanks Sue and Boards!
Congrats too to Dave White, who has just taken over at Boards as the new 'editor at large', while longstanding editor Bill Dawes takes a role more in the background. Should be interesting to see Dave's input in future issues.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Galway Ocean Race

Well we spent the weekend in Galway for the Volvo Ocean Race festival, and the arrival of the Volvo boats after their race across the Atlantic. We were invited by to do some demonsration racing in Galway Bay off the prom.
It went really well - on Saturday it looked windless and raining.. but the skies cleared, the wind picked up and we sailed all day on 15-18 knots of wind. We ran a load of slalom races and also had a great freestyling session afterwards.

1. Rusheen Bay flaka
2. Telefonica in Galway Docks
3. Racing in Galway Bay (Hannes Louet with the wirlds biggest streamer)
4. Me (with the worlds biggest Surfdock sticker)
5. Pearse Geaney & myself freestyling after the racing on Saturday

In Galway at the Docks, the event Village is set up and the whole town was buzzing !
Galway never needs an excuse to party or go on the piss... so with this event in town - the party factor was about 250%, as everyone drank on the quayside and waited for the first boats to arrive. There was live music on a huge stage, 50m from where the boats are moored, and loads of pubs, food stands, it was like a rock cooncert with errr.. yachting!

The first boats arrvied about 2am to huge fireworks and jubilant crowds, with the last boat getting in before most people were out of bed. Apparently the boats took only about 5 minutes to fly down Galway Bay, running at over 25 knots on Spinnaker. These boats are amazing!

On Sunday.. sore heads meant the windsurf racing went at a more relaxed pace, but we had better wind, so were all keen to get on the water.
I got up to 'The Puddle' for a sweet freestyle session with Tom Big Pole, who was amazed with the fun that can be had in Rusheen Bay. It is no wonder all the Galway guys are so good at freestyle !

If you are in Ireland and can make it over to Galway, the Volvo festival runs for two weeks, and next Saturday they will be Racing in Galway Bay.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

A few Rhossy slalom pictures

A few more pictures of the Rhosneigor slalom event.
The first two shots show my preferred way of crossing the finishing line ;)
The next two show myself, Maurice Owens, and Irish Slalom Champ Pearse Geaney racing against the best the UK has to offer. Pearse and myself now share first place overall in the 'Neil Pryde - JP Irish Sea Challenge', which combined the results of the Dublin and Rhossy slalom events.
Thanks to Kathryn and Pearse from BigSurf for the pictures !

Monday, May 18, 2009

Rhosneigor rocks

Well the final day at Rhosneigor started almost calm and windless, and produced some very nice conditions for SUPboarding, with a light offshore breeze holding up the 3ft swell.
The wave event was cancelled, as it was clear we would not have the conditions to get the double elimination done, so that meant waiting to see if the wind would improve for the remaining slalom racing.
And sure enough it did pick up, with Ant Baker being the first to take to the water and plane around on a 9.0m. He's not one of the lighter guys, so it was clear there would be enough wind to race... so the boat was launched, and a course quickly set.
I rigged up a 7.8m RS Racing and JP Slalom 76 and joined the fleet for a more 'moderate' days racing.
The start line was on the water this time in small surf, with the outside gybe being in rolling swell out the back. But of course it turned out the wind was actually pretty light and gusty, and the first heat had to be abandoned due to wind dropping mid race - and half the fleet not event getting planing.
And that's how it ended. Despite waiting a couple of hours for conditions to improve (as the slalom guys were keen to race on their more 'regular gear'), eventually we had to call it a day and pack up.
It left me in 4th overall in the slalom, with the following results (and pictured above with Dave from Funsport)
1st Mat Pearch
2nd Jamie Hawkins
3rd Alan Jackson
4th emm, that would be me.

And also leaves me in Joint 1st in the 'Irish Sea Cup' with Irish buddy Pearse Geaney, when the results of the Dublin slalom and the Rhosneigor slalom are added up.

Thanks to BOARDSEEKER for the pictures. Action one shows myself, Richard Jones and Jamie Hawkins in one of the starts.

Next up, the VOLVO Ocean race is coming to Galway on the West coast of Ireland this weekend, and a buynch of windsurfers have been invited up by to be part of the festival and event with some demonstration type racing in Galway Bay.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

UKWA Rhossy day1 is over, and Im tired.

Well it has been a full day of action! Started by looking relatively flat this morning, and all the slalom boys were rigging huge barn door sails, and then of course the wind strted to pick up, the waves started to roll in, and soon we were into proper SURF-SLALOM... yeeharrr !

I entered both the waves event and slalom event... which are on at the same time... so it's a bit hectic to say the least.

My very first slalom race was on 4.5m FLY and JP Freestyle Pro 90!. The outside gybe mark was in logo high breaking waves and was carnage for some. Funniest thing today was seeing Maurice Owens (Team Wiping out from an involuntary jump on his 6.7m RS slalom and slalom board, while I was on the way back in on my 4.5, I nearly fell off laughing (sorry Mo!).

Anyway, got 2nd in that heat after Jamie Hawkins (on full racing kit), and that was the way most of the slalom went... though I had to change down to 4.2m FLY as it was getting even windier! I even managed to win a heat against Jamie on this kit, while he was still on 5.4 slalom or something. Surf-slalom is wicked fun :)... and of course you have to do the obligatory forward loop over the line.
I think I got 5th in both slalom finals, leaving me in 4th overall so far :)

Also doing the wave event, downwind of the slalom in the bigger waves, which were pushing in nicely at over mast high in the sets. Fully windy, on 3.6 fly and 68 twin, got through first heat, did some more slalom, and then in wave semi, up against John Skye. The wind decided to drop a bit just as we went out, and I got stuffed on 3.6, underpowered for almost all of the heat. Bit of a nightmare.. but there you go... it was always going to be hard beating Pozo-Skyeboy in a port tack jumping contest.. but at least he went on to get 4th, having to sail against Phil Horrocks in the losers-final.
Jamie Hancock was in the final against local boy Ben Proffitt, and this time Ben got the win, with some sweet doubles, takas, wave 360s, tweak pushies etc etc..

And if that wasn't enough exercise for the day, after a mammoth de-rig, we went to Llandudno SKi slope for some snowboarding and a party.

Bring on tomorrow... hope its windy!

Sorry no pics here (too busy sailing!).... but have a look at BOARDSEEKER magazine, who are doing live heat by heat updates from the beach.
Don't forget, you can also view the Rhosneigor webcam.

UKWA Rhosneigor webcam

Well its now time for the next event on the calendar, and I'm over in North Wales at Rhosneigor for the UKWA Wave & Slalom event. The Slalom is part of the Irish Sea Challenge - which we started in Dublin a month or so ago.
Because there are two fleets running here (and it's the 1st UK Slalom event of the year), there's expected to be a huge amount of entries. About a dozen Irish guys were on teh Stena Line HSS with me yesterday from Dublin, all of them entering the slalom.
I'm doing both disciplines, as is Jamie Hawkins, and also back on the scene is Nik and Ant Baker. Should be a fun weekend... the forecast is looking good so far.
If you want to have a look at the action, here's alink to the Funsport Webcam. The slalom should be running to the left of the rocks in the picture, and the waves to the right. You will see me running between the two!

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Somewhere, a sheep on a distant hill farted

Well that's what it felt like!
As the full double had been completed, the final round of competition for the pros was a series of fun 'Expression Session heats' (not to count for main event), and the word gusty could not adequately describe how my heat went. It was like someone was up on the hills above flicking a wind switch. You could be fully sinking, while someone 20ft away was on a gust and flying.
I was on 4.5 and 76, and only got 1 planing run when there was nothing to jump off, Andy King was on 5.1 and 85 and sinking, Mikey on 4.0 and sinking, Dan Gardener on 4.7. But then, a sheep on a distant hill farted, Mikey caught the magic gust and popped a backloop, and bagged himself a place in the final. That's the way it goes I guess!
All credit to him.. he went and did the same thing in the Final, which was deemed enough to beat Phil Horrocks slightly wet Double loop! When the result was announced in the pub that night, the Galway boys made it their personal mission to ensure he celebrated in style !

Anyway, have a look at this shot I took of John Skye from Big Thursday, pretty much sums up the whole day on Thursday !

All in all though a pretty epic event by all counts... we sailed every single day from dawn till dusk, in a whole mix of conditions.. and even got 2 days full sunshine.. Though that's probably the Irish Summer over now.. check back next year ;)

Big thanks to Simon Crowther for the shot on this current background too. We had a sweet evening session after the expression session, when the wind picked up, the waves got cleaner and better, and a bunch of us (Proffit, Finn Mullen.. ripping as usual, James Cox from bigsalty) to name but a few, chased Simon through the waves for a couple of hours. This was probably one of the best sessions I had this week, and sure cheered me up anyway! Everyone came off the water buzzing !

Next up is the UKWA event in Rhosneigor next weekend. Forecast doesn't look great for waves at the moment, but it is early days. The slalom crew will be there too, so should be a big event by all counts.

Friday, May 08, 2009

Hancock wins it

News from yesterdays double elimination, the results were announced at
the pub last night where the fleet had gone to watch the video footage
from 'big thursday'.
Keep an eye out for Boardseekers next podcast.. The video will be

Anyway, Jamie Hancock was announced yesterdays winner against John
Skye. It must have been close, none of us could call the result
yesterday. Well done Jamie!

After the pro final, the amateurs, ladies and masters was moved to
scraggane, but they didn't manage to get any results. We sailed
Fermoyle in the evening, and had a hell windy session on 3.6m!

This morning back at Fermoyle now, they are currently running the ams
and ladies, Irish Katie McAnena is up soon, to keep the battle going against
Boardseeker's Louise. Off now to try and get some pics of them.

Hopefully in the afternoon they will run more pro fleet sailing.
sent by carrier pigeon

Thursday, May 07, 2009

Rob jones on 3.2

Profit beats king

Jones & horrocks out

Phil nailed the heat against rob jones, who was on a 3.2 zone and phil
on 3.5, both fully stacked. Waves absolutely massive, and some big
swims too. Got some good video I hope.

Phil then sailed against proffit who almost landed an involuntary
double pushloop.. On his face. It was close and proffit advances to
now sail against andy king, profit on 3.4, king in 4.1.

sent by carrier pigeon

Moved to stradbally

Ukwa brandon day two

Well we are sitting on the beach looking at well over mast high sets
rolling into gowlane, but the wind us tricky, and out the back is
wayyyyyyyy out the back!!

We went almost all the way through the double elimination yesterday in
cross off logo high and on 4,2m, though at times very gusty so quite
tricky conditions.

Coming back through the double, Phil Horrocks and rob jones fought their
way back into the comp, and are currently the first heat today, so are
out testing the conditions while the rest of us watch. Phil's first run
our took him 17 minutes to get near the back, but he never made it out.
Similarly, rob went out, got cleaned out by a monster and bust his
mast. He has re-rigged and is currently fighting his way out, for his
honor and local bragging rights!

The wind is kicking in better, and is due to get to 32 knots sw, so it
should be howling soon, and then we may be in action

sent by carrier pigeon

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Ukwa brandon single elim

Just finished sailing the first complete round of the ukwa champs
event in brandon bay.
Great turnout with 25 in the pro fleet, including a good Irish crew:
katie mc, dan Gardner,dan king, mikey, mark Killeen, timo and Finn
mullen and local boys rob jones and niall Mellon.
About a dozen amateurs and 6 masters and 4 or 5 in the ladies fleet.
Top news: katie won the ladies with boardseekers louise emery in 2nd.
Irish crew all got through first heats, and in 2nd round, Iand there I
managed to beat Skye and dan g to get to the semis. Rob jones took out
phil horrocks to book his place in semi, but had to miss that heat as
he had to go and drive the school bus! Shame, as he was loving it.
Finn mullen joined myself, Skye, and proffit in the semi, but the
irish fun ended there as we both had a bad heat and didn't get to the
final 4.
Timo in the other semi had to resail against jamie hancock, as they
missed a wave if his.. But jamie got him again in the resail, and then
straight into the final.
Good for him though, as he then went on to win the final, Skye 2nd,
andy king 3rd and proffit 4th.
They are about to start running the double elimination, so better get
into a wetsuit!
Oh yes, conditions are typical gowlane, cross off and logo high in the
sets, using 4.2m fly and now it looks like I better rig 3.6.
Will try and get pics up later, or have a look at Boardseeker too for

sent by carrier pigeon

Monday, May 04, 2009

Fleadh Sheoil

Well we spent the entire weekend in Dublin at the Irish Windsurfing Festival.
The first day was light winds and sunshine, and most of the action was on SUP boards and generally enjoying the weather and chilling out.

Then Sunday brought nice wind for 6.1m Freestylin', or slalom blasting on 6.0-7.5m, and the sun stayed all day. We did a few fun races, some GPS speedsailing, and also some coaching at all levels. There were so many people sailing - all day. Great to see so many happy faces, new and old. Also congrats to Stevie Flanagan, who sailed almost non-stop from Dawn (5am) till Dusk (9.30pm) in aid of a cancer charity of a UK Windsurfer (sorry, I forgot the details right now).
Anyway - well done Stevie!
Today, the wind kicked in a bit stronger again, and was perfect for 5.1m freestyling for me, and later on 4.8m. Also got a chance to post the quickest time in the GPS speed (35.5), though cos Im a sponsored sailor... I don't win the title of King of the Estuary! booo! Aah well.

I expect to get loads of pictures of this event in the next couple of days, so I will post them up and links to galleries. For now though, back to work tomorrow, before bunking off and going to the UKWA Wave event in Brandon, which starts on wednesday, and the forecast looks sick!
Stay tuned here for updates, and also on Boardseeker Magazine.