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!

Friday, 20 June 2014

BWA Rhossy

A few weeks ago I went to the BWA events in Rhosneigr and Ireland. I had exams really soon after I got back so I didn’t have time to write anything about it. Now I’m in Tenerife and there’s a gap in the wind so I do have time.

I had to do a Uni presentation on the Friday morning before rhossy  so I had a mad rush to try and make it up there to get a sail on Friday night. Despite an awful seven hour journey I made it just in time for a warm up. Some nice port tack on 4.7 was a leisurely start to the weekend. The forecast was looking pretty solid for the weekend so I was very excited!

My first round heat: Matt Cude, Luke Raistrick, Me and Tris Levie
(photo by Jim Brokoks-Dowsett)

Saturday morning was 4.2 port tack weather with some really fun jumping. After the Pros finished their double elimination we started the amateurs. I made it through the first few heats and had a tough semi against Tris Levie and made it to the final. I was using my forwards to get me through as it was my worse tack for riding but I was doing well on my 75 wavecult and 4.2. Unfortunately there was a gap of about three hours before the final so by the time we got to it the wind was dropping dramatically and I was on my 4.7 and 82. The first time round the heat was cancelled and we finally ran the final at around 9PM as it was getting dark. 

I sailed an ok heat, got a few forwards but was let down by my riding a bit. I came fourth in the end with Mike Archer winning, and Clyde Waite and Mike Wand-Tetley making up the rest of the podium.
Err, not great wave selection from me there...
(photo by Si Crowther)

The double elimination on Sunday was held in some dropping starboard tack conditions, I was very excited about this as it is by far my better tack. However by the time the heats had reached mine the wind had dropped almost completely. I was on my 5.2 and 82 against Scotty McDowell who had come up through the double. It was now basically float and ride in onshore starboard tack conditions. I managed to get a few reasonable rides and was really lucky to get a gust and just about managed to pump onto the plane for a super lightwind forward on the only planing run of my heat.

I advanced to go against Mike Wand-Tetley, however the wind got really light in that heat and the competition was abandoned. So I finished in fourth, overall I was really happy with that as it was the first time I’ve made it to a final on the BWA Tour so far. I felt I sailed well and I was up against some really good sailors and the fleet was one of the biggest ever. Very Happy!
The finalists: Me, Clyde Waite, Mike Archer and Mike Wand-Tetley
(photo by Si Crowther)

Commiserations to Megan Gayda who was tragically struck down by a severe case of “food poisoning” and despite the heroic efforts of Luke Raistrick to nurse her back to health was unable to compete on Sunday. Better luck next time Megan.

Thursday, 1 May 2014

Weymouth Clam Jam, SWA Finale

The SWA year finished this weekend in Weymouth at the first ever Clam Jam. It was an important weekend for me as I needed to do well in the racing to secure my rankings for the year in both the racing series and the overall series.

Friday night kicked off with the campsite being set up at the luxurious Farmer P’s. After tents had been fully erected the SWA headed to the new venue of WPNSA for the first night out of the weekend. 
SUWC at Clam Jam (Photo by Claire Glasby)

After a luxurious night in my van, thanks to the installation of a proper mattress, I woke to the sensation of the van rocking in the wind. The promising forecast had come through and we arrived at Weymouth to see the harbour being whipped up by around thirty knots of wind! I opted for my Dad’s 6.0 Ezzy Wave Panther and a 125 Patrik demo board very kindly lent to me by Andy Biggs.
(Photo by Filip Markiewicz)
 The first race was absolute madness, I could barely hold on to 6.0 and the chop and board wake was terrifyingly bumpy.  My start was appalling and I was basically last, I crashed on every single gybe because it was so windy but somehow ended up in third. Race two was a better start, but the wind had shifted so we now had to beat upwind to reach the inner mark. I’d been chasing Matt Cox all race and cunningly edged in front of him as we tacked for the last run to the finish line so I managed to win the second race.
SUWC supporters (Photo by Filip Markiewicz)

The third race was much the same with Matt just in front of me, then as we got close to the line he got a gust and made the finish while I slightly missed it and ended up having to tack again to reach line. This was made more annoying by having to watch Alex Trickle’s smug little face as he cruised past me with his daggerboard down.  The final race was really good for me, I’d got used to the course and got some decent gybes, coming out as far upwind as possible. Matt was breathing down my neck the whole way but I just made the finish line in one run. It was close as I hit the buoy line and catapulted over the line. Only in SWA racing does the winner catapult over the finish… That last race got me into first overall with Matt Cox second and Tom Firth third.

Freestyle on Saturday afternoon. (Photo by Emily Sym)

The racing was epic, really closely fought. Matt Cox, Jo Wright, Tom Firth and I were constantly swapping places at the front and I loved every second of it.

Special mention to Sam from Imperial who managed to fully mount the 6ft gybe mark with his sail going one side and his board the other. Crash of the weekend. Hands down, solid effort!

There are no words.
In the afternoon the sun came out and the wind dropped so I had a very relaxed freestyle session on my Twintip while the intermediate racing was causing mayhem in front of WPNSA.

Saturday night  was a farmyard themed party kicked off with a hog roast. The party was typically awesome from the SWA. With lots of deviant dancing and a fairly high degree of nakedness in the hay covered hanger at WPNSA.
#selfie (Photo by Filip Markiewicz)

Sunday was a bit more sedate on the wind front and the team racing series ended with Cardiff winning the BUCS Gold medals thanks to secret weapon Luke Raistrick, with Southampton teams taking second and third.

Freestyling (Photo by Luke (Kyle) Raistrick)
The final event of the weekend was the freestyle, this started in usual professional and dignified manner typical of SWA athletes. However in the final things got a little out of hand and spurred on by head judge Jony Price there may have been some accidental nakedness. Congratulations to Alex Mitchell for winning and taking the overall Freestyle series, despite a significant distraction from John Hamilton and myself.

The freestyle getting a little out of hand.. (Photo by Luke (Kyle) Raistrick)

It’s been an amazing year for the SWA and Southampton Uni Windsurfing Club. We’ve had some freestyle in front of three hundred people at AK, 50 knots at Rhosneigr for the wave series and finally some full power slalom racing in Weymouth. Huge thanks to Taffy, Hoff, Jo and everyone else who has helped to make this year possible. Special mention to Filip Markiewicz for all the work he did to make Clam Jam possible. Thanks to WPNSA for hosting us. Finally thanks to Andy Biggs Watersports and RRD UK for all the kit! And Dad for being awesome and lending me all sorts of stuff as well as the van!

The overall podium, 1st Me, 2nd Filip Markiewicz, 3rd Leo Calnan
(Photo by SWA)

My final results for the year were:           1st Overall Combined Series

                                                                        1st Race Series

                                                                        2nd Freestyle series

                                                                        2nd Wave Series

                                                                        1st Team Racing Series
                                                                         (with John Hamilton, Charlie Wilson)

                                                                        BUCS Advanced Racing Gold medal
                                                                        BUCS Team racing silver medal.

SUWC Medal BUCS medal winners 2014:
L-R; Filip Markiewicz, Leo Calnan, Florence Greber, Oli Hampden Martin,
Jamie Oaten, George Tuckey, Ben Page, John Hamilton, Charlie Wilson.

Friday, 18 April 2014

Vass video

I've made a video about my season in Vass. It was a long time coming but it is finally here! check it out!

Vassiliki Summer! from Ben Page on Vimeo.

Wednesday, 12 March 2014

Nottingham Tow in and sunshine!

The first core event of 2014 happened on the 28th February in Nottingham. The forecast was looking promising for Sunday and with blue skies set for Saturday there was a lot of anticipation for an epic weekend from everyone at SUWC.

The event site. (photo by Dave Eberlin/Notts County Sailing Club)
Despite arriving rather late after our long drive north from Southampton our large group of twenty students got straight down to the business of drinking that the SWA is famous for. Unfortunately there was some kind of “incident” at walkabout and we ended up in an establishment called Oceans which was a very pleasant place to spend an evening. For anyone from Southampton think of it as jesters with a carpet and a lot less good.
Alex Mitchell being annoyingly good at tow in.
(photo by Dave Eberlin/Notts County Sailing Club)
After rousing a very reluctant SUWC and forcing them into the minibuses we headed for Notts County Sailing Club for some windsurfing! Saturday was almost totally windless so there were several alternative activities on offer such as a SUP race; won by our very own John Hamilton, tug of war and Charlie Wilson even managed to convince the safety people to let us try Tow in Freestyle too! This was quite difficult as it turned out, but we all managed to get up and going and there some savage crashes from everyone! My personal favourite was from Leo Calnan, it was so violent that it tore his glove off and it flew through the air as he smashed face first into the water. A solid effort!

The ever fearless Leo Calnan in action...
(photo by Dave Eberlin/Notts County Sailing Club)
National Student SUP racing champion John James Hunter Hamilton demonstrating his flexibility.
(photo by Dave Eberlin/Notts County Sailing Club)
Sunday was slightly windy, it was possible to plane quite comfortably on the 7.5 and Fireraces for the racing. Southampton continued our run of form in the team racing with a first place for the A team consisting of John Hamilton, Charlie Wilson and myself. I was also fortunate to win the individual racing too with a very smooth dismount after which I can confirm that the fin box in an RRD Firerace is extremely well attached to the board! Well done to Leo Calnan for second place.
The dream team in action!
(photo by Dave Eberlin/Notts County Sailing Club)
The podium for the individual racing. Leo Calnan, me and a very nice girl from Cambridge whose name I can't remember. (I'm very sorry, if you know please tell me because she was very good and this is making me look like a bit of a twat)
(photo by Dave Eberlin/Notts County Sailing Club)
The wind was very shifty for the freestyle, I opted for my 5.7 Style Pro but it was far from perfect as the wind was disgusting. I was unlucky in the final and didn’t manage to get any decent gusts so I had to stick to non planing stuff like upwind 360s and geckos. I didn’t sail well so was I was pleased with my third place finish. Well done to Vasilis Lyras (Newcastle) and Alex Mitchell (Portsmouth) for coming first and second respectively.
Turns out this tow in thing is quite hard...
(photo by Dave Eberlin/Notts County Sailing Club)

SUWC Dream Team member Charlie Wilson spocking.
(photo by Dave Eberlin/Notts County Sailing Club)
Massive thanks to Dan Connor and the Nottingham committee as well as Notts County Sailing Club for organising such an epic event! Also as usual to Andy Biggs and RRD for sorting me out with all my shiny kit!
The SWA year is nearly over and with only nationals to go, things are getting close for the overall series titles. Nationals it at Weymouth on the 25th-27th April. See you all there! Can’t wait.
All the photos are by Dave Eberlin from Notts County Sailing Club. They are not my property. If you would like to see more, have a look at this link on the NCSC website.

Forward loops are hard when you're not really planing...
(photo by Dave Eberlin/Notts County Sailing Club)

Wednesday, 5 March 2014

SWA Cornwall: Mazza, Gwithian and a haircut...

The final event of the SWA wave series was hosted by Plymouth university on the 14-16 February. The forecast was looking good for the Friday so I decided to head down early with my friends Charlie Gilman and (Sh*tty) Mike Ellis. After a very comfortable night at George Simmonds’ house we headed for gwithian where we were joined by Jony Price.  
The sets coming in at Gwithian when the wind was light on sunday.

The waves weren’t as big as we were expecting, at just over head high. But the wind was absolutely ridiculous! I was totally out of control on my 3.7, wave riding was hard as the sheer power in the sail as you went for a top turn was almost unmanageable for much of the time. I got punished a lot but at least it was easy to get out when you could plane fully sheeted out!
2 Minutes to go... (Photo by Jim Brooks-Dowsett/Puravida)

Saturday was a bit more sedate, the competition was being held at Marazion with some head high waves and enough power with a 5.2 and my 82 Firewave to jump. It was starboard tack too so I was feeling confident as it was similar conditions to what I sail in a home. The first few heats went well with decent ramps. I managed to get through to the final along with Jony Price, Mike Ellis and Matt Cox. Unfortunately the wind had dropped a bit and the decision was taken to just judge wave riding with bonus points for jumps.

The heat got off to a bad start for me with very light winds making it very hard to even waterstart for the first five minutes. Fortunately the wind started to come back and I got a few reasonable waves and a pretty dry forward too.

Marazion on Saturday. (Photo by Jim Brooks-Dowsett/Puravida)

Unfortunately for me Jony beat me on waves and he took the event win.

The finalists; left to right: Matt Cox, Jony Price, Me, Mike Ellis. (Photo by Jim Brooks-Dowsett/Puravida)
With both Jony and me winning one event and being second in the other the series win goes to him for winning the most recent event. It’s been an epic series with decent wind and waves at two out of three events with some high level sailing from a lot of different people! The final series resuts arethe same as for this event; First Jony Price (Cardiff) Second Ben Page (Southampton) Third Mike Ellis (Southampton) I definitely had to work a lot harder to be second this year than I did to win last year! So overall I’m very happy with how I’ve managed to sail in the heats with the highlight definitely being my pushloop in the final in Rhosneigr!

My Pushie in Rhosneigr. (Photo by SWA)
Massive thanks to Jim Brooks-Dowsett and Puravida for sponsoring and organising the series, to Ian Ross and all the people who helped with judging on the whole series. Finally thanks to Andy Biggs Watersports and RRD UK for sorting me out with the tools for the job!
Sunday was windless but we managed to get a good session in at gwithian on 4.2s and some nice down the line riding on Monday morning before we headed home. Special mention for Mike Ellis who, clearly inspired by his radical new haircut, was sailing in a very aggressive manner.

Thursday, 30 January 2014

Crashing and cartwheeling kit: SWA Rhossy

SWA Rhosneigr

Last weekend was the end of a pretty rubbish few weeks for me. I had glandular fever and then ploughed straight into Uni exams. Needless to say I was very excited about the prospect of heading up to Rhosneigr for the second round of the Puravida SWA Wave series.
Our well loaded van.

We loaded the van up with ten boards and a ridiculous number of sails and SUWC set off for Bangor. The forecast was calling for a solid 40 knots so the atmosphere in the pub on Friday night was one of intense anticipation.
True automotive greatness, and a Lambo.

Saturday started with the wind rapidly building. I went out to test the water on my 3.7 and Wavecult 75, I was sailing like an uncaged animal and got a bit overenthusiastic, tried to do a pushloop of a tiny ramp and totally destroyed the main window of my sail. Not a great start to the weekend as that was the sail size I would need for the entire weekend. Fortunately I had time to rig my 4.2 before the heats and we got underway. It was madly windy and the occasional squall would come through and flatten everyone on the water. It was so onshore by this stage that you could jump on both tacks. This was a good thing for me as with two jumps counting I could do a forward on both tacks.
Me with the Firewave. (Photo by Jim Brooks-Dowsett/ Puravida)

This tactic got me all the way to the final against Tom Firth (Cardiff). By this stage I was totally exhausted and could barely hold on. To make matters worse there was a squall and I was so overpowered that I could barely turn around let alone sail a heat. I went for a pushloop and over rotated to such an extent that I bailed while fully upside down on the second rotation. I think I may have clinched crash of the day for that one…

Tom must have had a tough time too because I managed to take the win in the single.
Photobomb by Flip.
Special mention to Charlie Gilman for kit destruction. He was standing in the water with his kit when a gust hit him and tore it out of his hands. It flew into the air, cartwheeled up the beach narrowly avoiding Jim in his rangerover before finally coming to rest just short of the wall. It had travelled a distance of about 80m! The board didn’t do well; snapped in half, held together only by the layer of carbon on the bottom. Both fins were torn from the boxes. That’s karma for laughing at my broken sail!

The sun setting after day one.

The double elimination started on Sunday morning with the pouring rain washing the paint from our faces after the Saturday night party. By the time my heat came along the wind looked like it was dropping a bit with people struggling to plane in the heats for second and third. I rigged up my 4.7 and 82 Firewave to be sure of some power for the final. I was against Jony Price (Cardiff) who had made his way back through the double from 7th, so it was set for a Tiree re-match where Jony put me out in much the same situation in reverse. Of course just as the final started there was another enormous squall and I was once again madly overpowered. Struggling to land a forward I got a wave ride done and then figured I might as well try for a pushloop. It was a beauty, I rotated fast off a little wave and landed bolt upright, didn’t even get my bum wet! That was the first one I have ever landed in competition so I was literally screaming with excitement and running around the beach like a kid at Christmas after the heat finished.

Me and Jony after the double elimination. (Photo by Jim Brooks-Dowsett/Puravida)
That got me the win in the double. After such a rubbish exam period and not sailing for a month I was more than happy with that! The final result was me in first, Jony Price (Cardiff) in second, Tom Firth (Cardiff) in third. The ladies winner was Elizabeth Ellis.
Thanks To Bangor Uni for hosting us, to Jim from Puravida for sponsoring the event and to judges Geoff Hautman, Farrell O’shea and the team from Funsport.
The winners. (Photo by Jim Brooks-Dowsett/ Puravida)

Me feeling happy after landing my push loop.