Monday, 12 January 2015

Welsh Roadtrip


As you may or may not know I have just had three months off the water after breaking my hand. After a few warm up sessions at Avon I was feeling like broadening my horizons a little, so I had a chat with South Wales local Alfie Hart about taking up his offer of a visit. A few years ago I read an article in windsurf magazine where Ross Williams went to the Gower peninsula and it really caught my imagination. I wanted to do the same! Unlike them we didn’t have a photographer but I took a few with my phone so that’ll do, ish… This is what I imagine we looked like....
The article in Windsurf magazine that caught my attention. (photo by John Carter/Windsurf magazine)
http://www.windsurf.co.uk/featured/coast-wales-mission-the-gower-hour/
 
At 5.30AM I left Southampton with a still inebriated John Hamilton as my road trip buddy. Despite a minor accidental detour via Oxford we made it to meet Alfie at his home beach Pendine Sands. Pendine doesn’t have much of a reputation as a windsurf spot and even Alfie was pessimistic when we arrived but we decided as we had come this far we should go for a warm up sail before we hit the Gower in the afternoon. In the car park there was no wind but there was a nice peak a few hundred meters down the beach. We rigged 4.7s and 4.5s and set off. It was high tide so the wind was mega light on the inside and I spent the first ten minutes getting mashed trying to get out. Fortunately I had my new RRD Fahrenheit wetsuit to keep me warm so the cold welsh water was nothing but refreshing on my travel weary face.
Rigging up at Pendine

When I eventually made it out I was quite surprised to find it was perfect 4.7 weather, big long logo high sets with the cross off wind whipping a little spray off the tops. With just three of us out it was incredible, smooth, empty waves that were just amazing to lay into with my Hardcore Wave. Every run, tack onto another beauty, get four or five turns before busting out and watching Alfie and John rip the hell out of the rest of the set while I headed back out. I had a few pretty brutal crashes when I went a bit late with the bottom turn but nothing more than a little swim. After a few hours of that we headed to Alfie’s farm for a quick food break before heading to the Gower for the afternoon session.
 
 
Lost in Carmerthenshire
 
 
 

 



We walked over the hill at the next beach to find some nice head high lines with a really offshore wind. Eager for more, john and I headed in for round two. Unfortunately it was so offshore and the waves so fast it was really hard to actually catch a wave. After a frustrating first few runs the wind dropped completely and I had to swim back to the beach. Now we learnt the golden rule of a roadtrip, never forget a surfboard. The wave was ridiculous, unfortunately with the wind gone we had no way to do anything with it. But with our session from Pendine fresh in our minds it was more an inconvenience than a disappointment.



The Gower, pity the wind dropped.

After a curry and a sleep at Alfie’s girlfriend Ping’s house in Swansea we were off again at 7.15. Hoping for a re match we headed back to Pendinefor sunrise but this time the wind was less and more onshore with smaller waves. It was still a really fun session but not in the same league as the day before. At the end the wind got up somewhat and we experienced the potential this place has as a jumping spot. After a few hours of that we packed up and got on the road again to check out Jony Price’s much loved rock garden, near Cardiff.
Sunrise at Pendine on sunday.
 
 
We arrived with only around an hour of light left so we hurried to rig 4.2s and get back into our suits for the fourth time. After falling over loads of rocks trying to get into the water and having lots of flashbacks to the rocks in Tenerife we realised it was definitely more than 4.2 weather. I was hanging on for dear life! I had a few nice waves, it was much bigger than it looked from the beach with Logo high sets every so often. It wasn’t long before failing light and exhaustion brought us in. Despite the fact that the wind was destroying the waves I could see why this place is special so I will definitely be back!

Rigging for the last session of the weekend.

So two days, with four sessions at three beaches. We did nothing but drive and windsurf for twelve hours solid on both days.

It's been a good weekend when your passenger footwell looks like this!
Wales was awesome and I can’t wait to go back, maybe next weekend…

Massive thanks to Alfie and Ping for showing us round and giving us food and a place to sleep! As ever thanks to Andy Biggs Watersports and RRD UK for the kit and my toasty new wetsuit.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 


Tuesday, 11 November 2014

Friday, 24 October 2014

Tiree Wave Classic!


My trip to Tiree this year was incredible! Amazing conditions, amazing weather and my best result to date on the BWA! Fortunately for me Southampton Medical school are very understanding and they kindly gave me a week off to go for the competition.


Sunset in Oban

This year I travelled up with my dad and Avon beach legend Phil Anson. We rented a van which was kitted out with racks by dad and phil. I went pretty much straight from one of our SUWC socials home to get in the van and start the nine hour drive to Oban for the CalMac ferry.

On the way over the weather was calm and the crossing was pretty stunning, but the best part is watching the clouds part and the sun come out just as you get to Tiree.

Welcome to Tiree!
 
The first few days were quiet on the wind front so we did some SUPing, looked at some seals and I made up for missing some uni by starting my essay.

Wednesday was the first day with sailable conditions, onshore port tack at Crossapol beach. I was on 4.7 and the new RRD Hardcore 88. It was pretty tough going, these are pretty much the hardest conditions for me… Still I managed to make it up to third place in the single behind Mike Archer and Scotty McDowell in 1st and 2nd respectively. I was happy with this as I knew there was going to be a double. Special mention to Freddie Ide from Avon who, fresh from his PWA youth experience, made it up to fourth.

Getting a stallie on the Hardcore. (Photo by Dave White)


I managed to get in the paper! The bloody disgrace is about something else...
 
After the final I hurried to get the van packed as there was a good swell coming in at Balephuil, it was cross off and absolutely epic! Floating and riding on 4.7 the hardcore came alive, it was incredible. I absolutely loved it! I had some good turns, some savage beatings and I sailed till it was dark. What a way to end the day. That single session made the journey to Tiree totally worth it!

Balephuil on Wednesday. (Photo by Richard Whitson)
 
Thursday was lining up to be epic for the double, we headed to Balephuil hoping for some similar conditions to the previous evening. It was a bit more crosshore than the day before so it was now better for jumping. The pros had their competition first, Aleksy Gayda was on a roll and pushed Phil Horrocks all the way to finish in second. Well done Lecky, your one handed backies were ridiculous!
Top Turn at Balepuil on Thursday. (Photo by Dave White)
 
As for me in the ams, Thursday was my day! I started in the first heat against Tris Levie. Tris was on a charge through the double, having come through three heats already. I managed to stop him and went on to go against Scotty, I managed to beat him too so I was in the final with fellow Southampton boy Mike Archer. I got off to a good start with a forward that ended up being about twice as high as I was expecting. I had some good rides, I felt like I had got a lot better over the course of the day with riding and I was feeling pretty good. I managed to win the final so as is the way with a double we went again. The second final was also pretty good for me, I had another ok forward and a good wave right away at the start of the heat. I had plenty of time to get another couple of waves. I did manage to win the double against Mike, I was very excited about that as it was the first elimination I have ever won on the BWA.
(Photo by Richard Whitson)
 
In the masters my dad went on a charge and got through several heats only to be defeated by Dave White. Dad was busting out tabletops and generally throwing caution to the wind in his quest for advancement.


Dad going mad. (Photo by Dave White)
 
However it was not over as Friday was looking good too, light winds and a good swell forecast for the maze promised some epic but tricky sailing. My warm up at the start was again an awesome session, the waves were fast, super smooth and just so much fun! Dad and Phil made it through a few rounds in the tricky early conditions. The early rounds were run in light wind but by the time it got to my heat I was well powered on 5.2.
The Maze on Friday (Photo by Dave White)
 
I’d had a run in with a large wave that left me scrambling up a large rock trying to get my kit back. I started the final with a bent extension, a hole in the 88 and my incoming harness line shredded and moving all over the place. Despite this I felt I sailed a really good heat, I had some good waves and I was sailing pretty much at my peak capacity for those conditions. I was loving it but unfortunately I lost by half a point and we were on for a second super final. Things started to unravel for me at this point, I got caught on the way out for the heat and got pounded by the sets for a good few minutes at the start of the heat. The wind had got up and I was struggling to hold on to 5.2. I didn’t really get any good waves in that second final so Mike took the event win. I was pretty disappointed to come so close to winning an event and then fall at the final hurdle. Still, second is my best result on the BWA so far so I am happy.  Congratulations to Mike Archer for winning and Tris Levie for third place.

On the podium for second place. (Photo by Sue Searle)
 
Overall Tiree was an awesome event, crazy conditions and the island itself is just beautiful. I totally fell in love with the 88, it was incredible in the onshore as well as the cross off bog and ride. Thanks to RRD for lending it to me! Massive thanks to Geof Hautman and congratulations to him for his first event in charge. Thanks Jim and Heather from Puravida for hosting the event and doing the flags etc. Thanks to Willy Angus, Mike Archer, Sam Neal and everyone else that judged, as well as Dave White and Richard Whitson for the photos. Thanks to my sponsors, RRD and Andy Biggs Watersports. Finally the biggest thanks of all to my dad and to Phil Anson for sharing driving, helping carry my kit back upwind after heats and generally being awesome!
Phil on his way up the beach. (Photo by Dave White)
 
Unfortunately I broke my hand a few days after coming back from Tiree so this was the end of my year on the BWA for 2014. It looks like my aim of getting into the pro fleet isn’t going to happen this year. I’m off the water for a couple of months so I’m going to have to think of something to fill my time!
Feeling sorry for myself
 



Sunday, 31 August 2014

Summer in tenerife

I spent the summer in Tenerife, where I shared a bed with five different guys over the course of the trip. Quite a lot of interesting stuff happened but most of it is not really repeatable so I'm going to stay on topic and talk about windsurfing.
Big thanks to Sandro for the kit storage!

The apartment was great, my window faced the beach so when it got windy it woke me up. All I did every day was sleep until the wind woke me up, eat some eggs, go windsurfing, come back, eat some more eggs, go windsurfing again, come back and drink a litre of chocolate milk with my dinner, then go back to bed.
Something went wrong.

A wall session early in the summer. Photo by John Hamilton

Photo by John Hamilton
It wasn't windy every day, we had a few dead patches with no wind. We did a bit of exploring round the island and managed to not crash the hire car despite George's complete insistence that engine braking was stupid and unnecessary, so we coasted all the way down the highest mountain in Spain. I feel sorry for whoever had the car after us...


We found this place on our adventures, no one had a surfboard though.





Photos by John Hamilton

 

Towards the end of the summer we had the PWA World Cup event to keep us entertained. It was awesome to see the top guys sailing, the level is ridiculous at the moment. But by the time it was over I was very pleased to have some space on the water again. Not as glad as Jony though as he proved to be a bit of a magnet for other people's boards.
Lecky carrying the flag on his PWA debut.

Cabezo beach transformed. My phone did something horrible to Lecky's face...

John Hamilton providing an impressive display of why suncream is not optional.
 
After the PWA finished we had a couple of weeks of really fun conditions at the wall. I don't have many photos but thanks to Justin Stuart I have a few really nice ones! I spent a lot of time swimming and getting punished. I feel like I am occasionally managing to do some decent turns but at times I can be a little optimistic with which section I can hit...

Photo by Justin Stuart


Photo by Justin Stuart

That's not gone so well. Photo by Justin Stuart
There were a few dramas but overall it was a great summer! A lot of fun, a lot of sailing and a lot of swimming. I'm gonna miss being able to sail in boardies. I'm back in Southampton now ready for third year. It looks pretty busy but I reckon I can still find plenty of time to go to the beach.

Packing up to go home.

Friday, 27 June 2014

Brandon Bay

Immediately after Rhossy was the Brandon Bay event, so I collected the Gaydas, shoved all our kit in dad’s van and off we went to the ferry port in Hollyhead. Feeling sprightly it was a short four hour drive from Dublin Port to Brandon Bay after a nap on the boat.
We've arrived!
 
 It was windy so the pros competition started staright away at Hell’s gate. Unfortunately for them the wind was clearly dropping and after a few heats the competition was abandoned.  With not much wind on the horizon I decided to get a sail while it was windy and had a leisurely freestyle session in the main bay on my Twintip and 5.2.
Traffic, Brandon bay style.
 
Sunset after a surf.
The rest of the week was pretty light wind wise so I went SUPing from time to time and tried to get a bit of revision done. I only had a few weeks after getting back from Ireland to prepare for my exams and with a summer in Tenerife planned I didn’t really fancy doing re takes.
A windless Brandon Bay.
Squeezing some revision in.

The Horrocks family hosted a barbeque one night so we had some burgers then Lecky and some of the other guys went for surf at Gary Williams. It looked pretty heavy and was breaking onto some very spiky rocks. Chris Yates and I bravely decided to sit on the rocks and drink beer instead.
The rocks at Gary Williams
 
Most of the days ended  in Spillanes bar with a lot of Guiness and some pretty deviant Tinder antics from Chris Yates.
Francisco Goya's PWA sail in Spillanes.
 
The final day of the competition had a promising forecast, first call was at nine so we woke up, checked our phones and saw a text saying “no wind, next call 10.00”- back to sleep.

At ten we woke up again and saw a text from 9.10 saying “red alert, wind, starting ASAP”. Massive panic trying to get out the door and down to Gowlane as fast as possible. Despite Megan and Lecky’s determination to stop at Spar for a sandwich I drove straight to the beach. This worked out well for Lecky as we had to run his kit down the beach and he went straight out for his heat.


The competition at Gowlane



It was light 5.2 float and ride port tack on some waist high waves. I wasn’t really in my element if I’m honest and had a tough first round heat with Chris Yates, Emile Kott and Nial Melon. I didn’t make it past the first round in the single. However in the double I started to make some ground back but conditions were getting too light to continue the competition so the competition was ended. I’d managed to make my way back to fifth place.


Me trying to make the most of a small one (Photo by Si Crowther)
 
Overall that puts me in third in the amateurs at the moment. There is quite a big gap between me and the guys in first and second so to hold on to that in the next competition would be great. I was honoured to be awarded a prize for “up and coming amateur”.  I was up with Lecky who won up and coming pro and Sarah Kellet who won up and coming lady.

So another great BWA event, I managed to get through some heats in conditions that I’m not really used to and got a fun down the line session on the last day too!