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!

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.