Tuesday, 9 September 2008

UK diary july 07-08 inc. UKWA and PWA comps

Reflecting on a year in UK...

my first winter in 4 years this year in 2008, and it wasn’t bad! ...and the longest I’d gone without a trip to warmer climes ever- 14 months! Re-acclimatising was ok, some good wetsuits helped!…I was sailing or surfing most days while based in cornwall til January, weekends from then on.
A natural time to pause and look further ahead seemed to happen off the back of my last season in part working abroad, in cape verde, and as mixed as some of the conditions and spells were, we had many epic days…you know that knackered but satisfied feeling you get from nothing else but a hard day’s fun on the water…pretty much always worth any hassle or low temperatures. It was great to work in cornwall, managing to not miss much, learning loads from and having great fun with the guys that sail and live down there. Returning to studies in Bath jan-july it was always worth the drive though my credit card wouldn’t agree but lets not get into the world oil crisis!
I was kind of keeping a diary here and there and thought may as well pull it together…
Take a deep breath… dip in and out! Maybe it’s so good you might fall asleep…In reverse chronological order…

With a respectable swell for this time of year and light easterlies it was nice to surf again in my 3/2mm suit, though it was rammed! Cornish summer…
We also scored a few special and quite mellow days at marazion, sunny windy-and sideshore-wavy, and warm!!. Unreal… Great conditions for everyone around. Nice to all hang out post sail in the car park without getting pissed on with rain and cold like earlier in the year!

Packing up from bath…
And end of the ongoing assessments! Woohoo. The class was happy to get to the end! –though its just the beginning…5 weeks off til PGCE!

...I got a call seeing if I was interested in job in the canaries with some guys I knew…see following news !! It was the last day of my course, it had to be done so after saying yes it was then a case of putting PGCE on hold!
I requalified my BSA surf instructor's at Fistral, Newquay which was fun as they were just getting into the Boardmasters comp. Inspiring to watch world class surfing live...

MAY 08
National windsurfing week
-my news-

With no wind or waves close enough to Bath for me at the moment I decided to take windsurfing to the lab, where I’m doing a physics course pre secondary education PGCE. Our class is in there 9-4 with our tutors every weekday. 3-4pm friday afternoon is never easy so as a bit of an aside we looked at physics in windsurfing! I presented a small slideshow and movie clips from my work and travels around the world, and explain where windsurfing is at today, uk and abroad, and how to get into it, even some techniques! We got into the basics of how windsurfing works, which they all quickly grasped -as you’d hope being the next line of physics teachers!- touched on fluid dynamics around foils –only scratching the surface!- Happily I managed to maintain everyone’s attention, they even found it entertaining! Congratulations to Phil for winning the quiz!
Hope all is going well getting into the PGCE guys!

Summer hit Bath! For a couple of weeks…did it ever come back at all? My ankle was really doing my head in and I couldn’t seem to get the right levels of rest/light physio training they were giving me. At least I wasn’t missing out on any wind/waves.
I’m so bad at being forced into no training and just chilling but at least the atmosphere around town was getting right in the summer groove.

3 or 4 fun sideshore days, 3 unreal flat calm bask-in-the-sun and drink guinness days, 1 epic contest, for me 1 completely trashed set of kit, couple of big nights, plenty of good craic…torn knee and ankle ligaments! this 12 day trip was my first to Ireland and one I wont forget! It had everything great and not so great!…

If you didn’t catch the mag coverage from this event go and find it!

Stuffing my ankle the day before day 1 wave comp in the unofficial freestyle heats feeling a bit cold and tight didn’t help, was broken and gutted!
Further to injury was nailing my kit after coming out the back of a wave! I know I can sail heats better if I keep my head…
It was great to see the fleet laying down turns in the cape-verde-esque break, and for some to really hit it hard! The irish lads showed everyone what they can do, as did Garry Williams break. Great to see Thorpy get hugely deserved 2nd place behind Andy King who nailed it to win - long overdue !
The atmosphere was so good and friendly everywhere we went! I have to go again, and hopefully for some storm action! photos: Rea Coskinas


Winter wind…Though getting many really good days since autumn wasn’t easy, there were still a few memorable good ones, including one of the most savage storms to hit cornwall, ever? As with most sessions down here a few photos of those out nailing it in crazy wind strengths on the local photog's sites, 'guava jelly' and splashograpahy galleries...
Watching triple house size waves crash into the north coast was quite a sight! Sketchy driving...
(If only i had a good enough camera of my own!)

One weekend I joined Thorpy, Russ, Potter who were hitting the Gower. Cold on the hands! But the strong NNW swung right in N in the bowly waves at Llangenith gave us some highly smackable sideshore riding at dusk. The next day was such a gorgeous sunny day but just way too cold, I bottled it and headed home!

there had been 2 other successful events during the months prior to this but conditions wise this one really turned on...check out the site to find out what this free format event is all about...

image courtesy of Wavejam/Simon Burgess
rider: Andy King

i think as the guys had intended, it was so much fun with most who were available getting together in one spot in great conditions. The article (author-thorpy) looked good in windsurf mag and even better in full glory with all the shots online...check it out. I had just as much fun watching everyone go for big moves as sailing .

photo: Russ Tetlow


I started a 6 month intensive science course pre PGCE at Bath Spa uni. I didnt exactly live it up as a student again! work hard durng the week, then weekend sailing...lets just say i've become a lightweight.

There was another big student event going on this time in London! We got some solid F4-5 conditions on Datchet lake making it great fun to sail somewhere unusal, the next day, again students in the hundreds making the most of great learning conditions and a great service offered by all the clubs and the boardwise team. Hangovers for all...

on borrowed sail...

for photos and more check out: SWA http://www.studentwindsurfing.co.uk/

We had a few stong wind and wave days around the south west.
I joined Thorpy and co to sail Woolacombe and I did the most swimming in one session ever! 3 consecutive swims losing my gear on the outside set all the way back to beach! Big and ugly at times…
There was one particularly memorable gwithian session in mast high with strong sideshore. It was such a moody dusk session with very low light well before dark-photographer’s nightmare!- Blackie, Fawcett, Ian Ross, Stevo, King twins, many others...everyone was going for it seemingly fearlessly and nailing impressive moves. It had been a few weeks going without conditions like this, it was coming into high tide ever closer to the rocks and the waves were just getting better all the time…once I shook the nerves out and got in the flow with the other boys it was good… And unlike the surf earlier in the day, not cold.

me-above, Jan and Andy -right

While we were waiting for the wind to fill in Sleigh and King were out tow assist surfing just at Upton, flying around at times! I got a go behind it the next day-so fun to be whipped into your first turn at 30mph!


‘The first big swell… It was exciting for this week, pumping swell and the flat south coast of autumn transformed…

Not so fun for those hit by flooding…but we enjoyed watching the tv forecast the nights before…’ the infamous words of don’t go near the sea, don’t drive…’ we all survived…

While many folk hit full on k-bay fawcett put down fast rail to rail turns and aerials, blackie styled it, and the rest of us went for it too! I tried one goiter/ponch kicking out of a wave and properly winded myself! (in video!)

photo: Joe Cockle


Will we see some solid Lows? Not yet…Blocking highs for the first two weeks, getting a little frustrating. What happened to summer? And autumn?!
Apart from the East Coast surge, not much swell, some wind here and there…
(but look what we were in for next...!)

Before this came just one decent strength NW day with waist-chest high at Hayle- I’d forgotten what cold hands and feet felt like!
With all this settled weather lately hopefully this means we’re in for some solid storms December/January…Might not be that long before the hood, boots and gloves have to come out…no worries!



Corona Tiree Wave Classic

I’d been looking forward to this trip for months-the tiree events have such a big reputation…I’d had a bit of wavesailing but not nearly as much as I’d wanted to prepare for my first UK pro wavesailing comp. We had good down the line conditions in ok chest-head high waves. In a tough heat against John Hibbard, upcoming Adam Lewis and Richard Jones who all sailed well I had to settle for =13th, from which I know I can better for sure as I made a couple of basic tactical errors. The rest of the UK comp was very heated, with the proffitt/ horrocks/ King semi being a professional showcase... Phil landed clean and technical moves to earn the event win.

photos: Simon Crowther

The world cup round was quite something on the final day which got plenty of good magazine coverage. With a fair few UK guys already entered I was lucky enough to qualify for one of the 8 wildcards available for this, a first PWA event in scotland. It was a very special to be involved in, and a dream of mine to make it into one just to be a part of it all…everyone hanging out under one roof pretty much for the week treated to some superb Scottish hospitality. The Mitchell’s whisky flowed!
After days of forecasts that seemed to never want to come through and flu that got through everyone we got to the final day and pumping head high, side offshore. I sailed ok against Moroccan wonder Boujma Guilloul, and was even in the lead with one decent turn on one wave as he was still yet to make a move, and. Late on he certainly did with a big stylish smack expectedly he stormed through! Oh well! It was fun and I’d love to do another but would need to be able to fit in some serious pre-event training if I am to get through a first round, as of course every heat is tough! It was great to see the action go down first hand and in great waves. Kauli’s freesaling in the dusk after the comp close –when the result meant he’d won the title for the year- was so fluid, a real treat, as it was to have many of the world’s best out in a small bay way up north in the inner Hebrides that day.

Other sessions late October:

Gwenvor: good late afternoon surf, so cloudy it felt dark at 4pm mid –low tide no wind, solid head high, got nailed in outside closeout sets as the tide dropped out and it really got dark! 530pm…losing daylight.

Marazion: freestyle windsurf, Long Rock, time to have a go at learning some new tricks. Nicely powered up on 5.7 in SW wind. Some moonlight and the bright lights of St Ives and Penzance kept me out for a bit longer -Why is it I always seem to be sailing or surfing in the dark? -denial that we are approaching winter! Bad move. While I wasn’t looking someone had searched the undercarriage of my car until they found my key! Nothing stolen –not that there is ever anything in it- and the car still there, maybe I was lucky? Never leaving a key again, always put it in your suit or around your neck! So the new 5/4/3 Delta got an unexpected test and did well staving off early hypothermia stages waiting for the Tow truck to take me+car home…

27-28 SWA Bude/Roadford Lake

I didn’t take much persuading to come and help do some coaching and judging at this year’s SWA event, a big turnout was expected and a big party lined up. 700+ keen students arrived at Bude holiday park, some to learn from scratch, others to improve and some just to party hard or both. A big hand to the SWA team. Plenty of instructors at the unis organised great day with a huge number of beginners doing well in the prime conditions supervised by a fleet of rescue boats! It was good to see such a healthy numbers. Colin 'whippy' Dixon, Palmer and I held some forward loop and freestlye clinics, a shame we didn’t have the wind on the lake to really get these guys and girls right into the planing moves with on-water coaching but the on-land stuff will stand them in good stead. Next time!
The SWA team held a non-planing freestyle comp on day 2, Sunday. There was some very technical stuff going down, and some entertaining moves also, including great use of a kayak in place of their beginner board by one entrant.
I managed to sneak a late (dusk again…) sail on Saturday evening pre party at Widemouth. Getting onto low tide it was producing the harshest shorebreak I’ve experienced, barrelling overhead, with head size stones being flung around, a waist-head high surge and a 5-10m yes/no distance to make it out over it…can’t believe I dodged getting nailed, 5.3, 92, light sideshore S winds logo high and low tide made for a heavy bowly wave in places and a challenging session with some good turns to be had, most fun in a while!
The following morning before the hangover kicked in (which it fully did for one-and-all later on I can assure you …) it was round 2 at Widemouth for stronger wind, more westerly. 4.7 , 76, similar waves for some jumps while it lasted. Some crew from Exter uni were going for it which made for a great atmosphere


September had some sporadic swell and wind, plenty of sun too, nice! A few evening sessions still light almost til 8pm at the end of the month. I worked on marquees for a short stint and it was as tough as I’d heard, gave me some endurance and strength training! Day 1 - 17hrs and they were surprised to see me day 2 after a bit of sleep for a mere 10hr day. Dunno how those boys do it day in day out big up, and i'm feeling soft! Tell you what it’s pretty sketchy getting one of those up or down in 30mph wind, which we did in some of cornwall’s most exposed back gardens!

photo: Joe Cockle

Of course on these days I couldn’t handle not getting on the water, just making it before dark a couple of times, one session I got to Godrevy at 735pm to see a few sails flying around in solid head high f4-5 side shore, NE. So I got about 20 mins in the dusk, and then another 15 in the dark, which was fun too with at least ¾ moon on show!…I called it a day after a swim to my kit getting nailed by a heavy outside logo high set! Oops! Was a bit sketchy but felt ok and was worth it!
Another evening session at Gwithian was ok.

The biggest day for me for a while... Perrenporth.
With a pumping W swell we’d had for a couple days that was getting at the north coast and W going N-NW winds, but nothing much at all on S coast nor great sailing anywhere really, I drove up to find, as I expected, mast high, 20-25 knt side side-on, so it was breaking all over the place, way far out and rippy as hell, must have been 8knt current inside in places... I seriously thought twice about going out but had a go in the end and my Goya 4.7 and Quatro 92 gave me the power and float when I needed it most, which got me out of some dodgy situations, rewarded with some big bowly turns. On top of that it was kind of weird the whole of Perran Sands park was like a ghost town, summer definitely had ended! One other windsurfer turned up and came out -fair play!- which was nice and took the edge off it! And a couple of beach walkers enjoying a stormy day. There was even some sunny spells breaking through, but no photog. in sight! gutted!


My first week or so back in england and we had full force storms! This turned into the Andy King cornwall training camp where i was duly punished everyday on a mission to improve and go harder! Results? For fear of being taken the p**s out of i went round my first pushies anyway, felt good! As far as Andy's sailing which is well known for being top class, anyone around at the given beach is caught standing staring at jumps of large amplitude!

I was then teaching at 'Surf's up Surf school', Polzeath, (i'd still kept my aussie surf instructor's going since WA in 06) so I enjoyed the rainy weather from my tent and just-about-still standing-caravan! The team is fantastic with some highly experienced surfers/instructors, so it was great to further my coaching and own surfing. There’d always be a few of us surfing around lessons each day. With the dodgy summer the way it was we enjoyed more waves and wind all around the uk I think! I got out sailing in Polzeath bay, avoiding running anyone over but probably scared a few water users (sorry!), and naturally copped a bit of flack from the surf school team! ‘poledancers’ but when the conditions were good for sailing a couple of them did admit they could see the attraction. Result! One session was pretty good, solid logo high swell, f4-6 sideshore from the left, S’ly, around a lowish tide.

photo courtesty of Pete Craske/Surf's Up

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