Thursday, October 28, 2010

Weymouth Speedweek, Portland, Dorset, UK and UKWA Inlands Round 5, Rutland Reservoir, Whitwell, UK

This is the first chance i have had since i got back to write this but i went across to the UK last week to compete in Weymouth Speedweek from the 16th till the 22nd of October. I traveled across to Weymouth with Steve Flannagan who was also going to be competing there. Once again Nutt Travel came up trumps with another cheap ferry ticket of £209 compared to Stena who wanted nearly £400 for exactly the same trip. If you are looking for cheap ferry travel give them a shout.

After a mammoth 16 hour journey which included my sat nav getting us lost a couple of times (bloody irish sat we arrived in Portland just in time for last orders for a much needed pint on Friday evening and then got to bed ready in time to get a decent sleep before the comp starting the next day. We once again stayed at Spindrift Cottage which at £285 for the week meant the weeks rent was cheap as this was split between 5 of us as 2 lads i know from the UK, Neil Hardwick and Gordon Roach were also sharing.

We got up early and made our way down to the Weymouth & Portland National Sailing Academy where Speedweek is always held and registered and then got rigged up ready for the competition starting that afternoon. The winds were light, about 8-12 knots from the North East so i rigged up my Starboard I Sonic 144 with 50cm Vector Maui Fins Canefire fin and 9.0m KA Race and got changed and waited for the course to open. Once the course was open i headed out but found it hard to get going and as the course was a fair bit upwind i wasn't making much headway as i was off the plane slogging most of the time so after an hour where i hardly got going at all i decided to call it a day and save my energy for the rest of the week. After the opening party and meal arranged for that evening i headed back to the house early as i had to be up early to travel to Rutland on Sunday.

I'd known for a couple of months now that the last UKWA Inland Championship event clashed with the opening weekend of Speedweek which was annoying as i needed a good result at Speedweek to get points towards my Speed World Cup Ranking and the longboard racing i have been doing this year was just for fun so when seeing the weekends forecast on Friday i decided Sunday would be the day i traveled up as there would be no wind in Weymouth on Sunday. I got up at 4am and arrived at Rutland to find out they had 4 decent races in similar winds to what we had a Weymouth which was annoying but as i had already made the decision not to come on Saturday i had to get on with what Sundays conditions would give. There wasn't any wind at all for most of the day but i was still ready with my Starboard Phantom and 9.5m XR Race rigged and ready when at 3.30pm when we were called onto the water for 1 race so at least the drive up wasn't wasted as i finished 1st overall in the Raceboard Unlimited Fleet for the event and did enough to finish 2nd in the Raceboard Unlimited Fleet for the year, 17th Overall and 4th Master which considering it's my first year back racing longboards in 20 years i am absolutely stoked with my final results this year. After another 4 hour drive back to Wemouth i arrived just after 10pm, had a couple of pints and got to bed early enough as i was wrecked from my early start.

On Monday the winds we got for the day were around 10-14 knots from the North West which meant the wind up near Ferrybridge where the start was was very shifty and Gusty. I decided to use my Starboard I Sonic 144 with 5ocm Vector Maui Fins Canefire Fin again as the bigger board would carry my through the lulls easier and make the slogg back upwind a bit easier with the extra volume and use my 8.3m KA Koncept as i prefer this sail over my KA Race as it's a bit more lighter in the hands and i prefer it in winds over 12 knots. We had a good days session on the water but the chop was making it interesting when sailing down the course as i was building in size the whole way down so the big slalom board was a bit hard to control but i had no choice as i needed the volume to get back up wind as i was off the plane most of the time due to the big holes in the wind. It was also a bit of a lottery heading towards the start line hoping you would get a gust of wind to get you going and this was to be the same for the rest of the week but i had fun day on the water managing peak speeds of just over 25 knots.

On Tuesday the wind was a bit stronger at 14-16 knots at the start of the day but again from the North West. The chop had also got bigger so i decided to use my Starboard I Sonic 111 with 42cm Vector Maui Fins Canefire Fin as using my 144 would be suicide in the chop and my 8.3m KA koncept as the wind was gusty with big holes in the wind again. Towards the end of the day the wind was now gusting over 20 knots which was interesting hanging onto the 8.3m but you had the just grit the teeth and get on with it as you needed the bigger sail at the start of the course and getting upwind but i could have done with my 7.3m Koncept at the other end of the course. I decided to call it a day about half an hour before the course closed as i had a massive catapult where i banged my knee of my boom and was now finding the 8.3m way too big but i still managed a peak speed of 27 knots which considering how out of control i was most of the afternoon in the massive chop i was happy with. One thing i learned from today was that my crash from a year and a half ago is still playing on my mind as it happened in similar conditions and when the nose was catching i was backing off a bit so i know i could have probably gone quicker if i had pushed it a bit more so i will work on that from now one so i can go quicker in choppy conditions.

Wednesday and Thursday were light wind days with about 6-8 knots each day so i had a couple of sessions on my Starboard Phantom 380 Race and 10.5m Demon Design VG5 i bought so i am a bit more competitive in winds below 10 knots next year. The sail itself is very powerful and i had the board fully railing in the light conditions so i know it will give the power i need in the lighter stuff where my weight is a hindrance when most of the guys i compete against are a good 20 kg lighter than i am.

On Friday which was the last day we finally got winds from the west but not at the forecasted 20 knots unfortunately. We only got 10-14 knots so i used my Starboard I Sonic 144 with 50cm Vector Maui Fins Canefire Fin again with my KA Race 9.0m and only managed to get a couple of runs in as it was very hard to get going and the water was very shallow so my fin was catching all the time. I still managed a 24 knot peak which i was happy about as i was underpowered all the time.

That was it for Speedweek and i wished i could have got some decent winds from the right direction and showed how fast i know i am but you have to deal with what you get and i finished 35th overall in the Gold Fleet and i am now 49th overall in the Speed World Cup Rankings so i am pretty stoked about that. Just got to figure out now how to get to Port St Louis for the last event of the year and inprove my world ranking

Friday, October 15, 2010

Irish Speedsailing Championships Round 5 Ladies Island 9th & 10th October

With wind finally forecast the same weekend we had a Speedsailing event organised for we checked all the speedsailing locations in Ireland and decided that Ladies Island in County Wexford had the best forecast for the weekend but only on Sunday so we called the event for Sunday and had Saturday as a fun day to meet up, get the smaller kit tuned after it gathering dust in the garages all summer and have a bit of crack.

I drove up from Kerry on Saturday morning as i couldn't afford 2 nights accommodation and arrived at Ladies Island just after 9am. With the forecast now looking a lot better on Saturday (But we couldn't hold any official racing as it had already been decided that Sunday was the day for the official event) of 15-24 knots i decided to use my Starboard I Sonic 86 with 36cm Vector Maui Fins SL9 Alfa fin and the Starboard I Sonic 101 with 38cm Vector Maui Fins Rockit Fin that i had borrowed for Weymouth Speed Week from my sponsor Wind & Wave to i could get the board dialed and rig up my 6.4m & 7.3m KA Koncept's. I used the I Sonic 86 with the 6.4m KA Koncept first but later in the day in the afternoon the wind dropped slightly so i then used the I Sonic 101 with 7.3m KA Koncept. After a good 4-5 hours on the water we all decided to pack up, head to the B&B, get a shower and head out and get some food. I managed to find a great B&B in Roslare Harbour called Padua B&B where i got a twin room for 65 euro which is excellent value for a B&B so close to the Roslare ferry and i highly recommend staying there if you need somewhere to stay if catching the ferry.

On Sunday morning after breakfast we all headed back to the beach around 9.30am to find the wind was only 10-15 knots but forecasted to get up to 18-25 so i decided to use my Starboard I Sonic 144 with 50cm Vector Maui fins Canefire Fin, Starboard I Sonic 111 with 40cm Vector Maui Fins Canefire fin and Starboard I Sonic 86 with 36cm Vector Maui Fins SL9 Alfa fin and rig my 6.4m, 7.3m & 8.3m KA Koncept's. I got changed and headed out on the water after the briefing on my I Sonic 144 and 8.3m KA Koncept and got planing most of the time but there was big holes in the wind. After a couple of hours on the big kit the wind started to build as forecast so i switched to my I Sonic 111 with the 8.3m KA Koncept as the wind was now more constant and alot choppier so the 144 was bouncing around alot making it hard to control. After probably 1/2 an hour i was getting pretty overpowered on the 8.3m with the wind now a constant 18-20 knots so i switched to my 7.3m KA Koncept on the 111 and had another hour on the water before going in and having a break. After my break i took out the I Sonic 86 with the 7.3m KA Koncept and after a little while the wind started to gust up to 25 knots so the 7.3m was now a handful so i went in, switched the fin in the I Sonic 86 to a 32cm Vector Maui Fins SL9 Alfa fin and changed down to my 6.4m KA Koncept and went back out on the water. For me this was now my fastest kit combo of the day and after another hour i went in a decided to call it a day as i could hardly hold the boom anymore but it was great to see all the smiling exhausted faces on the beach after a great day on the water after so long without any decent wind.

I finished the day with a peak speed of 29.79 knots and 100m of 28.91 knots which meant i finished 4th overall and 1st Master for the event so i was stoked as this has now improved my Irish ranking to 5th overall and with 1 event left in the calender i have to finish 3rd overall or higher and improve my GPS 10 second average and 500m so i can achieve my goal of finishing in the top 3 in Ireland.