Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Get set for the weekend

After what seems like an endless spell of flat calm weekdays and occasional windy days here and there, there is no doubt now that Autumn is in full swing. Just had 3 good windy days in a row now in Dublin, sailing mostly on 4.0m, either at Low Rock (pictured), or outside my house in Skerries.

The forecast for the Belmullet wave event this weekend changes every-time I look at it. There are 3 low pressure centres very close off the Atlantic coast, and depending on which way they track will determine whether we had a good weekend or not.
I think I'm just going to stop looking.. what ever comes will come.

Its not really going to matter until the green flag goes up, and there's not much I can do about it but try and be ready for anything!

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

speed-wavesailing & catch up

Well it seems like it has been a long time since posting, in fact it's almost a month.
I have been really busy working (yes despite what people think, I do actually have a job!), and in-between that I have been catching some wicked windy-boarding sessions all over the country.

Also I have received the rest of my JP boards, and some of my new sails, so I have been more interested in getting out there and trying my new toys.. than writing about them!
I think I will dedicate another post to my findings on the new equipment, and just fill you in on what's been happening in this one. If you want to know anything in particular about the gear... just leave a comment at the bottom of the post and ask away.

Where to start? Well I guess probably at the beginning is a good place...

The last post left off at the Achill wave competition (see gallerys), where we competed two rounds of waves in fun sized cross-on starboard tack on Keel Beach. As the forecast on the second day was hopeless for Achill, we hit the road to Louisbourg and the entire fleet went free-sailing for the day in cross off 4.0m weather. Got to sail my new 68 twinser in cross-off for the first time, so I was loving life :)

The following weekend was spent in Brandon Bay, for WOWI's 10th birthday party.
We had a chilled out time in glorious sunny summer weather (in Sept!), and had good fun catching up with a few old friends. The party on the Saturday night went on till the wee hours, helped in no small part by the presence of the Limerick University windsurfing club.
Not much wind though, so myself and Megan had a great SUP session on Sunday morning in Fermoyle.
By Sunday evening though, the SW wind had kicked in Brandon style. Which in case you don't know... means if it's SW... it's windy! Although only forecast for 12 knots, there was easily enough to get out on 5.0m in Gowlane, and ride some sweet waves down the line on my new 92l JP twinser.
Alan from Surfdock was also out, and was blown away with his new twin-fin board. He was so happy with the immediate improvement in his wave-riding, he took me out to dinner and could not stop grinning about his session.

The following days forecast looked even better.. 25 knots SW, so I stayed over, and was rigging up again at 8am with a crowd of excited locals and tourists. 25 knots SW means 4.0m sails in Gowlane, and we had an awesome session, hooking into wave after wave for about 4 hours.
There was a good crowd out, and there was action everywhere you looked. The local crew were in full force, with Niall, Rose Rob and Knoxie all. One of the best waves I had was shared with Rob and Knoxie, all of us screaming and shouting as we charged down separate sections of the same wave. Up the beach at Kilcummin, Peter Hart was out with a wave clinic, and Rob's brother Rik was out with his crew of friends from the UK, all over for ther Autumn dose of Irish waves.

I have got to say Rob and Rose looked good too with their matching gear, sharing a quiver of 2010 FLY sails, it will be hard to tell them apart now. And I mean it.. standing in the shallows, I watched Rose rip a wave up, and I honestly thought it was Rob sailing. That girl can RIP!

Rob was also obviously loving his new quad-fin board. The effects of which are blindingly obvious:

Eventually the wind got too much. Rob had changed down to 3.2m FLY and was even struggling on that in the gusts, while Niall and I were still hanging onto 4.0m sails. Knoxie had decided to check out Stradbally further downwind in the hope of finding less wind (imagine that!), but when we de-rigged and got down, the wind still looked too much to be any fun waveriding. Fine if you are in Pozo cross-on jumping, but 3.2m weather cross-off is another thing.

Eventually we found more manageable wind in Stoney Gap, where it was pozo-esque cross-on jumping on 4.0m sails. Peter Hart and his crew had come down, and Knoxie also hit the water again, with Rob joining us as soon as he ad finished driving the school bus again.
Here's a fun forward on the way in off the backwash off the rocks:
Despite the pole-vault looking effect, I can report that I landed this and with everything intact :)

The following weekend, the only place in the country showing wind was NW Donegal, which is my favourite place in Ireland to windsurf. With a forecast for 18-20 knots W-SW and a NW swell, I had no problem convincing a few friends to hit the road. Dave from DMG sailsports is my usual travel buddy in the Vito on the road to Magheroarty, and sure enough this stealth mission was too hard to resist.
Still buzzed up after the previous weeks twin-fin sessions, Alan from Surfdock was also in no doubt he wanted more, and told a few more people in the shop about his plans. Even Peter Hart made an appearance (is that guy following me??).
We were rewarded with perfect cross off conditions on 5.0m sails and logo to mast high sets of perfection on the reef. No pictures this time.. we were having too much fun sailing, so you will have to take my word for it!

Competition time again..... but not the usual Belmullet affair. This time a round of the Irish Speedsailing Championships!
The forecast was for the best wind early in the morning, so I hit the road from Dublin early, and arrived at 8am to find a good crew already rigging. JK was already about to hit the water, and even Rob Jones had driven up overnight from Kerry, as he was also super keen to try out his new JP Speed45.

It was not flat water by any means, just the usual blasting on chop in Elly Bay, but it was really good fun to see so many guys and girls out blasting around. Myself and Rob had a good session chasing each other around the bay. It was tricky to find the flattest bit of water to go really broad and get the board flying, but overall it was absolutely brilliant fun. I have always loved going fast on a tiny boards in strong wind, and add that into how good the gear is nowadays and it's smiles all over. With the advent of GPS speedsailing, it's now so easy to find out just how fast you are really going. (Thanks Stevie for the lend of the GPS)

I managed to to hit a peak of 38.5 knots, and try as I might, I couldn't get the board to go any faster in the chop. It seemed to me that the wind was dropping (as was the tide), so it was time to pack up the speed needle and go in search of more waves.

At the end of the penninsula is Falmore, which works best on a low tide and W or NW wind (strange co-incidence that !) and sure enough when we arrived there were lovely sets of head high joy rolling into the bay.
We wasted no time in joining locals Cormac and Laoise from UISCE in sharing a few waves, and some of the speed/wave guys came down too; Dan Gardener, Katie McAnena, Rob Creane, Stephen OBrien, Woodsy. Rob Jones had to have a quick siesta in his van before hitting the water again at the wave beach.

The shore break can get quite punchy here as the tide rises, and sure enough it claimed a couple of masts from those who timed it wrong. I don't think the guys were even disappointed though, as the riding was so smooth and fast. All worth it at the end of the day.

Oh yes, I'm glad to report my top speed was enough for me to win the speed event, which was a very nice end to the day.

Next up is a freestyle event in 'The puddle' - Rusheen Bay in Galway, where every kid and his dog is trying to learn the latest trick. In fact if the place was sunny, you could almost believe it was Bonaire (well if you try hard!)

Till next time....