Thursday, April 28, 2011

New Sponsor

I'm happy to announce that through Thain Leisure in the UK i will be sponsored by Curve Surf Products. Curve Surf Products are an Innovative Surf Travel Gear company from New Zealand that produce a complete surf system comprising of 11 unique and innovative surfing hardware accessories.

I will be using the Curve Waterman Hydration Backpack to provide me with much needed hydration on the water when competing in the UKWA Raceboard series and Irish National Speedsailing Championships.

Round Hayling, Hayling Island, UK 22nd April 2011

On Thursday 21st April i headed down to Hayling Island as i was going to do the Round Hayling on Friday arriving at Hayling Island Sailing Club early evening. The Round Hayling is a race i have always wanted to do since it was massive 20 years ago so i was stoked to finally get the chance to take part. After a few drinks with friends in the bar i got an early night to get a decent sleep ahead of the Round Hayling. I woke up pretty early and after a great breakfast i checked the latest forecast which was 4-9 knots so i rigged up my 10.5m Raceboard sail as i would need it in the light winds i would find and my Starboard Phantom 380 Race and waited for the start of the race at 2pm.

At 2 pm we all gathered which was around 100 windsurfers on the beach just by the race tower of Hayling Island Sailing Club and when the gun went it was a mass beach start and we all headed downwind towards Northney Marina and Langstone Bridge. As we were going with the tide we made it down to the marina pretty quickly and turned west towards Langstone bridge and at this point i reckon i was somewhere between 20th and 30th place so right on pace for my goal of finishing in the top 30. Now i heard stories about this part of the race and thought i would be pretty hard but on approach all i needed to do was grab the uphaul, drop the rig to the water and drift through under the bridge. Once i got to the other side i uphauled the sail and made my way upwind to the Ferryboat Inn at the entrance to Langstone Harbour. Rather than pinching upwind like everyone else i decided to free the board off the wind a bit for more speed as i was pretty powered at this point, railing the board with ease but once i got into the middle of the Harbour i got caught in the current and had to tack back into the shallows in the east of the Harbour and lost about 10-15 places here but gained some of them back by the time i had got through the entrance to the Harbour and headed east along the sea front.

At this point the wind went more easterly and dropped off to around 3-4 knots making it hard going beating upwind along the beach but i carried on hoping the wind would pick up. I got about two thirds up the beach to just by the Coastguard tower, which is around 2 miles from the finish when the wind dropped off completely to nothing which made the organizers finish the event there as with the tide now coming out of Chichester Harbour by the Sailing Club it would be impossible to make headway against it with the lack of wind. At that point i reckon i was somewhere around 35-40 position so i was pretty gutted i couldn't finish but hopefully i will get a chance next year to make it round the Island.

Minnis Bay, Kent, UK 19th April 2011

As i was doing the Round Hayling on Friday 22nd i stayed in the UK after round 1 of the UKWA inlands at Pitsford and stayed with friends in Kent. On Tuesday 19th April i met up with one of my sponsors, David Gollick of at Minnis Bay about 4 miles west of Margate in Kent for a sail. The wind was dead offshore and there wasn't too much wind, around 5-7 knots so i decided to head out on my 10.5m Raceboard Sail and Starboard Phantom 380 race for a bit of practice ahead of the Round Hayling on Friday. I didn't really spend much time on the water but it was nice to get out and stretch out the muscles before heading in to relax on the beach in the sun before heading out for a meal and a few drinks with friends in Ramsgate that evening

UKWA Inlands Round 1, Pitsford Reservoir, UK April 16th/17th 2011

Sorry for the late update but i'm only just back from the UK and had limited access to the net while i was there so was unable to update my blog until now.

It doesn't seam that long since the UKWA inland series finished last year and it was time again for me to make the long trek across the Irish Sea to the UK to compete at the first round of the UKWA Inland Championships. I arrived late Friday night and after some food had an early night so i could get a decent nights sleep to prepare myself for the weekends racing.

I got up early Saturday morning to be greeted by little to no wind but regardless i got my gear together and rigged up my 9.5m Raceboard Sail, 10.5 Raceboard Sail and got my Starboard Phantom 380 Race ready and waited for the start of the first race. Late in the afternoon we were all called out to race so i grabbed my 10.5m Raceboard Sail and Phantom and headed out on the water but it was really testing conditions, about 3-6 knots with wind shifts of up to 90-100 degrees which meant most of us actually managed to make the 1st windward mark on 1 tack and the downwind run was more of a broad reach so the race was finished when we got back to the windward mark which we again made on 1 tack. That was it for the day as the wind dropped right off so we packed up, had a Barbeque and a few drinks then went to bed hoping there would be more wind the following day.

We all awoke to a bit more wind than the previous morning but still not enough to race so we waited around until called on the water just before lunchtime for the second race. I again grabbed the 10.5m and Phantom and went out on the water. The wind was alot more consistent in direction and around 6-7 knots so i was hoping the wind would stick around or the rest of the day but unfortunately not long after the start of the second race the wind dropped off to around 3-4 knots and when we finished we were sent in to wait to see if the wind picked up again but it never did so as there was only 2 races completed and 3 needed for an official result that was it for the event and it would not count towards the overall ranking unfortunately.

I finished 2nd place in the Raceboard unlimited fleet and 5th master which was the same result here last year. Just hoping now that we get some wind at Derwent for the next round and i can get a decent result towards my UKWA Inland Ranking

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

New Sails Ready For Action

2011 9.5m KA Koncept

2011 5.0m KA Koncept

2011 5.8m KA Kult

Yesterday my new sails and masts arrived :-) so i got them stickered up and rigged them today to see what they looked like. My 2010 Koncept's (5.7m, 6.4m, 7.3m, 8.3m) and my KA Kaos and Kult wave sails (4.2m, 4.7m, 5.3m, 5.7m, 6.4m) didn't get alot of use with a couple of the sizes used only a few times due to the lack of wind last year and the injury's i suffered so i decided to hang onto them for another year so this year the decision was to only change over a few sizes.

As my 5.7 Kaos was a 2007 model i decided to swap it for a 5.8m Kult which has a bit more power suits my weight better than the Kaos. I prefer to feel a bit of power in my back hand on my larger wave sails where the power of the Kaos is more on and off. I do love the Kaos in the smaller sizes but the Kult suits my wave quiver better in the larger sizes and this year the red/black is a great colour combo. The Kult is also a great bump and jump sail.

I changed my 2008 5.0m KA Koncept to a 2011 model as the new Koncept's are lighter and more powerful. A big change for me this year is this 5.0m and my 2010 5.7m & 6.4m will be rigged on RDM masts. A few of the KA team riders have found the RDM masts to work better in the smaller Koncept sizes so i decided to give them a try and see if this gives me that little bit of extra performance i am looking for to break 40 knots. The sail definitely feels lighter in the hands so i'm expecting big things from this sail which i hope will be my favorite size just like my old 5.0m. Check out the for sale section for my 2008 5.0m which is now for sale.

Finally i have changed my 2009 9.0 KA Race to the 9.5m Koncept. I found the 9.0m Race to be heavy and i hurt my back a few times when uphauling the sail when the wide luff tube filled with water so i have gone back to the Koncept in this size as it is a lighter more manageable sail for me while my back continues to give me grief. It also has a shorter boom than the KA Race which should help me when overpowered . The black/white colour scheme is perfect for me as a Newcastle United fan ;-)

Can't wait to get them on the water and once i have i will let you know what they are like. As always they are also available for demo so let me know if you want to try them or come and find me at the beach.

Dungarven, Ireland Friday April 1st 2011

I'd been watching the forecast all week for Dungarven and on Thursday evening it was still forecasting winds gusting over 40 knots from the South West i decided i would head over. As low tide was at 11.40 it was going to be a morning session to mid afternoon as you really only have decent flat water conditions for 3 hours after low tide so i got up at 5am and left Kerry arriving at Dungarven just after 9am. When i arrived the wind was alot more west than forecast making the speed strip pretty much unsailable as it was way too broad and also the wind was around 15 knots. I decided to wait a while and see what the wind was going to do before deciding what to rig. After about an hour the wind started swinging to the South with the wind direction now S - SSW and picked up to about 18-20 knots but gusting up to 35knots.

With such big gusts equipment choice was going to be hard to choose where i would need a 7.3m in the lulls and 5.7m in the gusts so i decided to rig up 2 sets of equipment and use boards with a bit more volume to get through the lulls than being hammered in the gusts on my 7.3m , my Starboard I Sonic Speed Special W53 with 25cm Vector Maui Fins Delta Speed Fin with my 5.7m KA Koncept and my Starboard I Sonic 86 with 29cm Vector Maui Fins Delta Speed Fin with my 6.4m KA Koncept and got into my wetsuit. The wind was still the same so i grabbed my I Sonic 86 and 6.4m and went out on the water. This proved to be a good choice but i was still underpowered in the lulls and stacked in the gusts but it's still better to have both than be only underpowered or overpowered all the time.

The new Delta Speed fins from Vector are awsome :-). This was the first chance i had to us them since i got the fins earlier this year and once up to speed they provide loads of lift to get upwind and then once off the wind don't overpower the board at all and you can push against the fin with confidence that it will not loose grip. Can't wait to get to try the smaller sizes if the performance of the 29cm is anything to go by.

Unfortunately the wind direction was pretty square to the speed strip all day so only managed around 28 knots on my GPS but it was great to finally get some speedsailing in and blow of the cobwebs. Here's hoping that the wind is now finally back for a while so i can start to get decent speedsailing sessions in