I had a decidedly average days wave-sailing today at Dollymount ( a bit too S-SE for my liking), the highlight of which was trying out my new 5.3m Firefly. I have had it a while, and also a new 5.7 & 6.1, but recently I have been sailing overpowered on 4.0 almost all of the time, so have never got the chance to try them out. I probably won't use the 5.7 or 6.1 until next spring!! All good though with the 5.3, great power, really nice and light and maneuverable.
Anyways, not really the point of my post...
While I was rigging, I met a very familiar face - Johnny Lee - who I have known for a long long time, as will most people who have sailed in Dollymount (or even Achill).
Johnny is the oldest wave-sailor in Ireland - at around 73 years of age ! He is also one of the very first original surfers in Ireland, and was one of the 'silver surfers' documented on RTE television a while back.
Johnny is now enjoying his retirement from being one of AirLingus's longest serving 747 pilots. In fact, as part of his pre-retirement package, Johnny was farmed out to fly a Pacific route between Bali (I think) and Honolulu, where he went surfing and windsurfing at either end during his down time. Nice !
At the beach today he was a bit frustrated at first, and also the last time I saw him last week, as at his age, he takes a little more time to warm up his joints before getting into the water... and it didn't help that the wind was up and down a bit.
His knee is at him... from get this - a snowboarding injury last year (at 72!!) The bit that frustrates him, is that he was just jumping off the lift, with the front boot binding attached to the board as you do, when an out of control ski-er ran into him and span his board (and leg attached) from under him, twisting and breaking his leg.
Not to be disheartened, he recovered, and kept on going with all the things he loves so much.
After a while today, Johnny was rigged and got out there today taking on pretty tricky conditions. He didn't get a great run as the wind had died a little, but he was out the back, and rode a wave or two back in, before we all called it a day in the dying wind.
Today he told me he had actually planned a weeks snowboarding this week, but the snow is not falling right yet, and he will only go when it's proper powder off-piste.
What will you be doing when you are in your 70s? I know I want to follow Johnny's fine example, so I can only wish that when I'm Johnny's age, I will still be trying to ride waves and get excited at the prospect of a decent windy session.
Over the years there have been many people who have inspired me in windsurfing, sometimes from their style, their skills, passion or attitude...
So I have to say today, Johnny is my inspiration !
I also made sure I told him.
If you see him on Dollymount and you feel the same way, don't forget to say so too!