Monday, 20 July 2015

West coast summer.

This summer I have to do a medical placement, which the medical school kindly allows us to organise ourselves, anywhere we want...
My kit survived the journey and even snuck it on for free! 

Thanks to BWA judge Mike Archer I managed to get in contact with Jeff Albright, an orthopaedic surgeon at Advantage Orthopaedics in Portland, Oregon. 

 As it turns out Jeff is an absolute legend and picked me up from the airport. He very kindly let me stay at his house on the first night and in the morning he declared that we were off to the beach to go surfing!  We went for a fun couple of SUP sessions and caught some crabs for dinner with Jeff's pot. 
The next few days were in Portland both in clinic and at the surgical centre as well as me trying to organise a car on the side too. I was very lucky to be able to stay with Cristin, one of the physician assistants from the clinic. It seems America is literally teeming with really nice people like Cristin and Jeff who were both very patient while I got myself sorted out. 

Wednesday was to be my first experience of the legendary Columbia River Gorge, I got a lift from Jeff and we dashed out to the gorge between surgeries. After an initial lack of wind it kicked in and we had a great sail at the hatchery with me sailing 4.2 and my 75. The gorge is such a weird place to sail, being in big chop with fresh water and mountains all around is just bizarre. 

The next day I finally got a car sorted, 3.3L of American minivan power! Again on Jeff's recommendation I headed three hours down the coast to a place called Florence just in time for a sunset session on 4.2 with some nice shoulder to head high waves. I spent my first night in the car at a deserted horse camp, unfortunately at about half past midnight my sleep was shattered by a couple of pickup trucks driving really fast in circles in the clearing where I was parked. This was rather unsettling but after a while it became obvious that they weren't axe murderers and I wasn't in a horror film and eventually they left. 

The next day I spent the morning taking a short sightseeing trip north up highway 101. I saw some sea lions and checked out some sailing and surfing spots at the same time. In the afternoon it was back to South jetty in Florence for another great wave session with slightly less wind and bigger waves than the night before. I had a great time with it perfectly cross shore and some nice logo high set waves to get stuck into. That night I invested in a pillow and did some rearranging of my minivan to turn it into a palace of luxury! 
Saturday started with a surf, I was already at the beach as I slept there to avoid the scary forest dwelling pickup truck people. The waves were nice shoulder high, really chilled out with just a couple of guys on the water. In the afternoon the wind came in quite light but I wobbled out and caught a few nice ones with 5.2, the wind angle was more cross off and they were bigger than the previous two days. They were walling up seriously fast which caught me out a few times and I got totally dominated as there wasn't enough wind to outrun the sizeable explosion of whitewater. Still it was a lot of fun until the wind suddenly swung onshore and brought a thick bank of fog in with it. 
The plan is to head back to Portland for Monday morning at the clinic, and then see how things pan out. 
I've been here a week and I didn't realise I had done so much until I wrote it all down! Things are definitely lining up to be a great summer! Bring on the next nine weeks. 

Friday, 1 May 2015

BWA Rhossy mischief

Unfortunately the conditions never really kicked in enough to get a counting round in for the series. However there was still wind and waves, just unfortunately not quite at the same time!
Photo by Dave White

We had skippers at a casual 6am on Saturday which was windy, although there were not good enough waves to compete properly. A couple of expression sessions were held, conditions were pretty fun for some bump and jump freestyle kinda stuff. I got a few flakas and some forwards and was very pleased to get second in the combined ams/masters/ladies fleet. I was defeated by the mighty Justyna Sniady in first, Tris Levie completed the podium in third. 
Trying to remember how to freestyle...
(Photo by Dave White)
Unfortunately as the expression session finished the wind dropped a bit. Tris and I then decided to tandem windsurf the giant inflatable SUP. This was an ambitious plan as it isn’t designed for windsurfing and doesn’t have anywhere to attach a sail… I feel it went well. We encountered a few problems, mostly that when you fall off the board drifts away.

Having some issues on the jumbo SUP.
(Photo by Dave White)

After that we borrowed some of the freeride kit off Whitey and went for a blast. We pootled out to the edge of the bay and started messing around doing pirouette gybes, monkey gybes, body drags etc. I had a great time with a 6.7 Move and the 112 Firemove. 
Blasting out the back with Tris.
(Photo by Dave White)

Eventually the wind switched and out of nowhere there was some really fun little waves for SUPing. Once again raiding the RRD demo trailer I headed out for a paddle. They were really fun for SUPing, mega glassy with the offshore wind.

Reece on a nice little number.
(Photo by Dave White)

Me feeling glad I put my soaking cold suit back on...
(Photo by Dave White)

Then finally to end my very Kai Lennyish multi watersport day I joined Reece White, Tris and Amy Carter to abuse the giant SUP again. All in all a great day! 
Jumbo SUP
(Photo by Si Crowther/Boards magazine)

Shame about the lack of conditions but I had a great weekend all the same. Huge thanks to Geoff Hautman and the BWA team, as well as Whitey and Reece for letting me raid the demo van.

Congratulations to Justyna for taking the win!
(Photo by Amy Carter/ Boards Magazine)

Sunday, 5 April 2015

Wales again

Last weekend I headed back to Wales to sail with Alfie again. After the success of last time I was eager for a repeat. I had also just picked up my new 4.7 Four and was very keen to try it out!

This time for varying poor reasons I was unable to find a roadtrip buddy, so I set off on the drive to Pendine alone.
 I arrived to find some fun looking head high onshore conditions perfect for trying out my new 4.7. This time I brought my GoPro with me so I could actually get some photos! It was a really fun session and with a better forecast set for Sunday it was a great start.

Sunday started with a ridiculously windy session at Amroth, I somehow allowed Alfie to convince me to take a 4.2 and I was swiftly running back to get a 3.7. Even on that I was pretty out of control, getting blown out on bottom turns and generally taking a battering. It was fun though and I had some pretty nasty crashes by getting blown all over the place in the air.

Session two was back to Pendine, after a lunch break the tide came in an I headed out on my 4.2 and 75. There were some pretty decent sized overhead waves and I was well powered. It was quite hard to get in the right position but when you picked a good one it was really good. There were some great punchy sections and I had a few nice crashes when I started to get cocky!

Alfie & Friends a Windsurfing video by boards

Another great weekend away, Ping is currently unable to sail so she filmed Alfie, Lewis Merrony and me. Alfie has made a film out of it too! Thanks guys for having me and letting me be part of your video!

Thursday, 26 February 2015

Lonely at Kimmeridge

Heading upwind with the ridiculous backdrop of Kimmeridge.

Tuesday had a pretty special forecast, 3.2m swell with an 18 second period. We don’t often get that sort of thing on the south coast and I was keen to make the most of it by heading to Kimmeridge, the place where the waves would be biggest. I have some demons at Kbay, I managed to break my hand five minutes into my first ever session here back in October. This was to be my first session in decent sized waves here since that day.

I think this was my first wave, played it a bit safe with this one...
I was unable to make it for the morning and when I arrived it was just me and my SUWC team mate Dan, there was barely even a dog walker in sight.  With no one on the water it was hard to judge the size of the waves but the ledges looked like sizable walls breaking in lines all the way down under the cliff.
It was quite intimidating bottom turning in the shade.
I guinea pigged it and set my Hardcore 88 as a quad with my trusty 4.7.  I was pretty comfortable on 4.7 as sailed out down the channel next to the ledges. It was looking pretty big, as I dropped in on my first few I realised that if you rode it to the inside you ended up stuck next to the rocks being bombarded by lines and lines of white water. Dan took a few photos while I was getting my first few waves, I know I’m playing it a bit safe but I was by myself under a cliff and it was a bit chilly for me to be keen for any lengthy swims…
This was by no means a set wave and I still had to run away.

After Dan had warmed up a bit in the bay he headed out to join me on the ledges, just in time to see what was quite possibly the heaviest crash I have ever had on a windsurfer! I had been out for about an hour and my bravery had increased significantly so when I saw a chunky section lining up I decided to go for it. I bottom turned a little late and as I was halfway up the face it barrelled over my head and the lip hit the top of my sail, while at the same time my feet got sucked up over the falls. The last thing I remember seeing before I went under was my mast tip behind and underneath me digging into the bottom of the wave. I thought I was a goner to be honest! I was expecting to surface to broken gear and a swim but I think it must have pushed me deep under the wave so I just bobbed up out the back totally unscathed! I think Dan was a bit put off by that so he decided the ledges was probably not the place to be!

Cruising back home as the wind dropped.

I had a fun, if a little scary session, I did quite a lot of running away from massive rouge waves but had some of the biggest waves of my life and managed to get away without breaking either kit or myself which was a bonus. I think I would have been a bit more risk taking had I not been so alone and exposed.  I love sailing at Kimmeridge, it’s one of those places that’s just such a nice place to be! To quote Dan; “I feel like I’ve been on holiday now”.
Massive thanks to Dan for taking the photos in the first and last few minutes of the session! It was also very nice to have some company as I think it would have been rather sketchy had I been totally on my own! Having someone to witness that crash was great too!

Kimmeridge is just such nice place to be!

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)
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