Sunday, November 29, 2009

Speedsailing! New personal best :)

Well after a full week of wave-sailing in Dollymount.. literally 7 days in a row sailing on 4.0 to 5.0m's, I spotted the forecast was looking good for today for Burrow Beach in Dublin.

I have mentioned this spot many times on the blog (mostly for freestyle), but today was the first time I finally got to do some decent speed-sailing there, and also while wearing a proper GPS for logging the speeds.

The wind was initially the ideal direction - NE about 30-35 knots, and I got there early before low tide to allow time for rigging the in the pissing rain (and 6 degrees C). JK was already there too, and we were joined by Keith Gorman. I rigged 5.6, JK went 5.9, and Keith 5.5.

The first few runs were the usual for me.. 38-39knots and wondering how to go faster... but then the wind swung more to the North as the tide dropped even further.. and finally the magic started to happen.
It's been my goal to get a chance to break that bloody 40knot barrier since getting my JP speed board, and I have not had the opportunity to get on a decent course until today. Once we got into the swing of things, the 40's just kept coming and coming. Soon enough I was dissapointed if I could not break 41, then 42, and finally got a peak over 43 knots (just). That's a new PB for me, so I am very happy!

JK (who is 40kg heavier than me) was using those tree-trunk legs to good effect and peaked over 45, with a good bunch of 43s and 44s, giving him plenty of 500m runs over 40 knots. At this stage I had borrowed Keith's weight jacket, increasing my weight from 78kg upto about 85 I think. Not sure if it made me faster, but did help me keep the sail more in control anyway, so I guess it was a help all-right. Possibly should have changed down, but it was so cold I couldn't feel my feet and couldn't be bothered walking back to the van. I tried a couple of runs without the jacket, and they were still just under 42, so guess I was just getting the hang of it.

In the end, analysing the tracks on the computer, I was happy to see about 8 runs over 40, 8 over 41, and 8 over 42, giving me a very nice average, and also a 500m of nearly 41knots.

Happy Days !

ps - thanks Keith for the lend of the mast & jacket, & Alan for the sail.

pps - getting back to the wavesailing, definitely worth mentioning that the day after the looping clinic, Ali landed her first forward loop. Nice 1 Ali !!!!!
Not to be outdone, Paul was back the next day and giving it loads more.... the race is on now to see who is the first to sail away properly !

Monday, November 23, 2009


Well the looping clinic certainly could not complain about a lack of wind on the weekend!
Apart from driving rain on Saturday morning, we couldn't have asked for more. 4.0m weather from the start, and one of the best swells I have seen in Dollymount all year.

A good bunch of 9 guys & 1 girl all signed up to break the fear barrier. I spend a lot of time at the start on pointing out the reasons that are stopping you looping, and getting rid of all the negatives.
A lot of people will tell you loads of reasons why they CAN'T loop, rather than just concentrating on one reason why the CAN... and then just focusing on that and getting on with it.
Once we had got that sorted out, it was into the water for some non-planing practice loops, or 'chicken dippers' as we like to call them. The aim of this is to learn how to program your head to keep sheeting in no matter what, and how turning your head to look back helps that (and stops you from crashing or letting go), and also how the angle of the mast makes all the difference. Once you land under the sail, the suprise that you haven't broken anything (body or gear) is enough to make most people see that there was nothing to be worried about. The more you practice chicken dippers, the easier doing a real loop will be.

As the swell built up the wind died a little so we had to re-rig to 5.0m, but still all good. For some it was their first time in bigger waves, and despite this there was no lack of commitment or trying from anyone, so I have to say well done all round! Once 1 person starts going for it, the buzz that creates is infectious, and soon they are all at it. Everyone went home sore but happy, with a good frame of mind to build onto bigger and better things for the next session.

Brilliant too to see so many people in Dollymount, it was like the good old days - I have not seen so many faces new and old there in a long time. Must have been about 30-40 people out during the day.

Sunday the wind went more cross shore, meaning getting out the back was easier (which in Dollymount is about 30 waves out), and some nice overpowered down the line wave-riding could also be had (see pic).

I'm getting more into my quad fin after this weekend, and despite not having the right size back fins in yet (too big), I'm still amazed at the control this board has on overpowered waveriding. Like Julia Roberts once said to Richard Gere: 'This baby corners like it's on rails'.

In onshore I'm thinking I may prefer twin fins - as I'm really loving takas, but for cross-off riding with super tight turns and unbelievable control... so far I am in love with this board. I suspect in bigger waves this will be even better.
The beauty with the JP quad is that it can also be used as a twin fin, so I'm not limited to one or the other.. I just have to get busy with the screwdriver.

The loopers though fewer in number, were super-keen to keep going, and did us proud. Ali B has absolutely non fear - that's official, while Mark Grennan was the star of the show, landing quite a few his first loops that he sailed away from properly. He got so into it, he started thinking about push-loops next, which I'm sure he will get in a matter of minutes. He has the right attitude now, and that makes all the difference.
Paul Reid wins the prize for determination, as he was not going home till he had rotated a full loop. I'm not sure if its the two cans of RedBull I gave him, but this meant that we were both still sailing 5pm on Sunday, in almost pitch dark. But sure enough finally got he got one where he jumped, rotated with the board properly and rolled onto his back. Well done Paul!
If if had not been dark, he would have kept going, and I'm sure he will be sailing away from them in the next session.

No animals were harmed during this weekends production. There were no injuries, and no equipment was broken, only pre-conceptions. This weekend was sponsored by Ibuprofen (for the slight bruising) and Specsavers (Paul lost a contact lens every 20 minutes).

I will run another one of these clinics before Christmas, so if you want to join in the fun, get in touch.

Loads more wind this week... hope you have fun wherever you are.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Want to Loop?

I'm running another jumping and looping this weekend in Dublin.

If you have ever wanted to loop, and in particular forward loop... then you will probably know about the mental blocks that stop you from going for it. The clinic is designed to get rid of all these fears and problems, and get you straight into DOING loops, rather than wishing about it!

In case you hadn't seen it, here's a from one of the first clinics I did about a year ago. If you want to join in this weekend, contact me through the email at the end of the video.

New Year's Loopers from Surfdock Watersports on Vimeo.

Monday, November 16, 2009

My first foursome

Looks like its going to be an interesting week :-)

Monday, November 09, 2009

Back to Belmullet

Well it seems like it has been all about Belmullet lately. Well I cant help that... I love the place !
With a 9.7m swell forecast from the NW, and wind upto 30 knots, Falmore was looking like a good call yet again. Driving down, we saw the main beaches at Elly and Drum were closed out with massive swell, which was breaking over the islands offshore, but Falmore would get a wraparound swell and cross off wind.

When we arrived the tide was still pretty high, and the big sets were closing out the bay. But as the tide retreated, the waves looked more manageable and definitely worth a go.
As it turned out the wind was pretty offshore, so it was hard to hook into the really clean bowl at the start of the wave up at the point, as it meant sailing straight into the wind, while trying to find the speed to drop down the face stay in front of the wave.

In Falmore, the wave is horse-shoe shaped, and if you start high, it's a super clean cross-off racetrack all the way down the beach to the pit of death at the end, or kickout before the closeout on the beachbreak. After my 2nd wave I got eaten by a set and had a nice 10 minute swim after my kit, but nothing broken... so straight back into the action.

Carlos the mexican joined me after a watching for a while, and got the wave of his life with a good few decent snaps before finally getting blown off the back with too much power on the lip. Even though he swam back, he could not help smiling, which sums up the day :-)

The local crew (Cormac, Laoise, Michheal) hit the water around the back of the penninsula at Blacksod, and caught the smaller wraparound swell.

Pic is a frame grab from the video camera, as my Nikon is broken at the moment (probably 5 years worth of salt water spray inside the body is not helping)

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

A few more Belmullet pictures

Big thanks to Paulina and Stiff-on for taking these pictures.

Monday, November 02, 2009

Trading Places

50 knots of wind, hanging onto 2.9m sails, 3 full rounds of competition, sailing all day every day.
Needless to say Belmullet lived up to it's reputation as a full on seriously windy event, and marks the start of hopefully a very windy Autumn. (This week has been good so far)

The short story: I won the event.
The longer story: As usual, the whole championships came down to the very last round of the year, and the 3rd and last final of the event. Who ever won the final between Finn Mullen and myself would walk away with the title for the year. This year it seems it was Finns turn.

More text and pics on the way.