Tuesday, June 26, 2012

West Kirby, Merseyside, UK 22nd & 23rd June 2012

I made the late decision to make another trip up to West Kirby when i saw the Forecast on Thursday evening that it was forecasting winds of over 40 knots for Friday evening and as soon as i finished work at mid day on Friday, finished a few things that needed to be done before i could get away i finally got on the road at 2.30pm. Unfortunately the traffic was a nightmare and normally a 2 hour journey took me 4 1/2 hours meaning i arrived at West Kirby at 7pm.

When i arrived Mark Bailey who had been here for a few hours already had come in and was changing down to his 5.8m from 6.4m as it was gusting over 35 knots which was a good sign that the forecast was materializing so i rigged up my new 2012 5.8m KA Koncept for the first time and got the Starboard iSonic W53 Speed that i borrowed again from Chris Bates ready with my trusty 25cm Vector Maui Fins Delta Speed fin, got into my wetsuit and hit the water.

The wind was pretty square meaning you had to slingshot and bear off into the chop but this didn't deter me and i set off down the wall for my first run locking onto a decent gust and when i reached the end of my run and checked my GPS i was ecstatic to see an new PB max speed of 38.93 which was nearly 2 knots more than my previous PB. I knew i had also probably broken all my other PB's with that run but i would have to check that later and i made my way back up the wall for my next run. The 5.8m KA Koncept felt so light in my hands and has the rock solid stability and endless power i have found in the other sizes and i know this helped me get the speed i had achieved.

I spent the next 2 hours getting in more runs but unfortunately couldn't get any faster speed but i didn't mind as i already had a PB in the bag so i came off the water as it was starting to get dark, packed up my stuff and headed up the my mates, Tristan Haskin's parents bar with Steve Thorp, John Palmer & Sam Gooch for a few celebrity pints, before retiring to my van just outside the bar for a much needed sleep.

I awoke early and got down to the lake for 8am and there really wasn't alot of wind so i went upto Morrison's to get some breakfast and got back down to the lake just before 9am to see it had started to pick up so i rigged my 2012 6.6m KA Koncept and get my Mistral Screamer 95 ready with a Vector Maui Fins SL9 Alpha Fin, got changed and got out on the water. I had a couple of runs but felt way underpowered so i came in and rigged my 2012 7.5m KA Koncept and went back out, had a couple more runs until the wind picked up so i came back in for my 6.6m KA Koncept and went back out. This was what happened for the rest of the day as the wind speed was up and down meaning changing sizes to make sure i was powered up but still had great fun. No great speeds as it was square again but still managed a 33 knot max speed and most of the other max speeds were over 30 knots so i knew i had a 30 knot plus 5 x 10 second average. I came off the water in the middle of the afternoon exhausted after a great few days at West Kirby.

Hopefully i will be a windy summer now and i soon will be bale to get another crack at breaking my PB's again soon as i'm now so close to getting through the 40 knot barrier and i know when the next big westerly hits West Kirby i will finally achieve that goal as i'm getting alot more used to sailing at higher speeds after all my practice at West Kirby.

Thanks to Sarah Jane Owen for taking the picture :-) and you can check out my PB speeds from Friday 22nd June on www.GPS-Speedsurfing.com here

Thursday, June 21, 2012

UKWA Inlands Round 3 Oxford Sailing Club, Farmoor Reservoir, Oxford, UK June 16th & 17th 2012

I wasn't able to get to the last round that was held at Bewl last month so i was looking forward to getting back out racing on my Phantom 380 at the next round of the UKWA Inland series. As with most of the Inland events for me now this was a short drive from my new home in Solihull but as the England vs Sweden Euro 2012 match was on the TV on the Friday night i stayed in Solihull  to watch it and got up early on Saturday morning to make the short trip over to Farmoor Reservoir near Oxford, arriving at 8am.

I soon became apparent that i was going to be a windy day just like the forecast had said with gusts of over 30 knots already. I soon made the decision to leave my 10.5 Raceboard sail in the van and rig up my 9.5m, 8.5m & 7.5m KA Koncept's and get my Starboard Phantom 380 race ready with a 48cm Vector Maui Fins Canefire Fin and awaited the start of racing for the day. Just after 11am we were called out onto the water and it was gusting over 30 knots so i grabbed my 8.5m KA Koncept and went onto the water for the first race. Not long after the start the wind picked up again as the race got underway for a 4 lap race. I got round the 1st lap alright but half way up the 2nd beat i along with half the fleet got flattened when the gusts started registering close to 40 knots and i was just able to make it back in to the beach after retiring to find that once the race was finished they were postponing racing until the wind dropped so we went in for lunch.

After lunch with no sign of the wind dying most of us that had the gear with us rigged up our short boards and went out for a play. I rigged up my 5.0m KA Koncept and got my Mistral Screamer 95 ready with a 30cm Vector Maui Fins EX Speed Fin and went out on the lake next to where we were racing just the other side of the dam which was flatter. It was hard to get an good speeds as one minute i was massively underpowered and then the next massively overpowered but still had a good session on the water. At around 4pm the call was made to cancel racing for the day so we all packed up and a few of us headed into the local village for some pub food and a few pints and then retiring to our vans in the pub car park for some much needed rest at around 11pm.

I woke up early around 7am and headed back to the lake and saw it was not as windy as before but still gusting to 16 knots. After some breakfast and i decided to rig up my 9.5m & 8.5m KA Koncept in case the wind decided to pick up and as the wind was still around 15-16 knots when were were called out for the first race at 10am i grabbed my 9.5m KA Koncept and hit the water. The sail size was fine in the gusts giving me plenty of power but there was massive lulls in the wind so i was finding i was underpowered in these so when we went in for lunch i rigged up my 10.5m Raceboard sail so it was ready for the afternoons racing. In total we had 5 great races on Sunday the variable gusty conditions and it was great fun.

I finished 21st Overall, 1st Overall Raceboard Unlimited Fleet (4th Master) which leaves me 17th overall for the year with 2 events left so i'm hoping i can do well enough at the next 2 events to give myself a good chance of finishing higher up the fleet come the end of the year

Thursday, June 14, 2012

West Kirby, Merseyside, UK 8th & 9th June 2012

I'd been watching the forecast all week and i became apparent that by Thursday 2 speed spots in the UK, The Ray in Southend and West Kirby up in Merseyside were going to fire up and right up till 7pm on Thursday i was still undecided as to which direction to head from Birmingham as they are similar distances away. In the end it took a couple of West Kirby regulars, Mark Hayford and Howie Rowson to persuade me that West Kirby was gonna be good and as i hate the walk at Southend the decision was made, i was heading North up the M6.

As the wind wasn't forecasted to start picking up till lunchtime i left Birmingham at 9am finally arriving at West Kirby just before mid day. It was great to see David Temple here , having made the trip up from Devon for a Festival close by and sacrificing a days music to check out the Kirb for the first time and not long after i arrived Chris Bates turned up. Mark Bailey also made the trip up and Mark Hayford also managed to get here as well. David was already on the water saying the wind was building and was nicely powered on his 6.8m so decided to rig my 2012 7.5m KA Koncept and get my Screamer 95 ready with a 34cm Vector Maui Fins SL9 Alfa Fin, got into my wetsuit and hit the water. I didn't last long till i was back to change down as the wind picked up and i couldn't even sheet in the 7.5m so i rigged my 2012 6.6m KA Koncept and went back out on the water. On my first run down the wall i managed a PB on the Screamer 95, a 35 knot max speed. When i first used the 2012 7.5m a few weeks back i was blown away with the performance but after my first run on the 6.6m KA Koncept i was speechless with it's performance. It was rock solid and stable in the biggest gusts and the surge in acceleration as you slingshot and bear off down the wall is awesome and the sail feels like it has an endless supply of power. I definitely think that this will become my favorite size. Soon the wind had started gusting upto 35 knots so i went in and grabbed the W53 iSonic Speed i had borrowed from Chris Bates, cheers mate, as my new Speed Boards haven't arrived yet and stuck my trusty 25cm Vector Maui Fins Delta Speed fin into it and headed back out on the water and on my first run i got just over 36 knots but the best was to come on my next run as i manged to lock into a gust and after my run saw 36.66 knots Max Speed on my GPS, yes a new PB :-) Unfortunately i couldn't improve on this as the wind was really gusty and square making bid speeds hard to achieve but i spent the next couple of hours trying until i came of the water exhausted when the wind started to nuke but at that point i couldn't hang onto the boom any more but it was great to see how much wind the 6.6m KA Koncept can handle. Steve Thorp turned up at this point and gave us another masterclass in Speed Sailing which was great to see. I packed up around 9pm and headed upto my mate, Alan Jones house who kindly let me stay again, cheers mate, had a few beers and got some sleep ready for the next day.

I awoke pretty early and got down to the lake at 8am as it was forecasting around 25 knots of wind and as the wind was forecasted to drop by mid day i wanted to make sure i got another session in but on arrival i found the wind was around 10 knots and no one was there so i headed upto Morrison s for some Breakfast and got back to the lake just before 9am and there still was not too much wind and no one there. As i was pretty tired i decided to have a quick nap in the van only to only to wake at 12.30, oops and see the car park was full and the wind had picked upto 15-25 knots. Jon White had made the trip today and had already been out for an hour on his 7.3 and was well powered up. I decided to rig my 6.6m KA Koncept again as i wanted to see it's lower wind limit and grabbed the W53 iSonic speed again with my trusty 25cm Vector Maui Fins Delta Speed fin, got changed and headed out on the water. It was great to find out the 6.6m KA Koncept was giving my enough low end power and grunt to get going in 15 knots and after hanging onto it in 35 knots yesterday it has a massive wind range which is great to know. I had a great couple of hours on the water where i managed to get a peak speed of 34.77 knots which was good as the wind was square again with big holes in the wind. Later that day i came off the water and made the trip back down the M6 exhausted but stoked at such a good couple of days Speedsailing and hope that it's not months before my next trip back up there.

Big thanks to Karen McBarrons for taking some pictures of the session, you can see them here

You can also checkout one of my runs captured on video, thanks to Mark Hayford for taking the video

Friday, June 1, 2012

Fleetwood Saturday 26th May 2012

Now that i have been back in work for 5 months it has meant i am restricted to getting on the water at weekends and usually there has been wind during the week and once i get time off at the weekends there has been little to know wind and i can't remember the last time i got out on my smaller kit at a weekend as i'm usually on my Raceboard and 9.5m but last weekend i made the trip up to Fleetwood in Lancashire which is a spot that since i have heard about i have been waiting to try out once the right wind direction was forecasted which has to be a North Easterly through to East South East. 

On Saturday i finally saw the forecast was right but as low tide was at 10am it meant an early start from Birmingham, getting up at 4am and on the road by 4.30am. I had arranged to meet Mark Bailey at his house and then share the rest of the drive up as Mark has sailed here before so could give me the low down on the location. Arriving just after 8am we saw the winds were around 15-20 knots and there was sunshine with little to no cloud cover so i knew this was gonna be a great session on the water. Chris Bates also made the trip up so it was good to catch up with him as well. I decided to get my Mistral Screamer 95 ready with a 36cm Vector Fins Maui SL9 Alfa fin and rig my new 7.5m KA Koncept, get into my wetsuit and hit the water. The Koncept this year has a shorter mast and longer boom so more low aspect and I've been dying to get them on the water since i got them.

Heading down the beach i should have watched where the guys launched as you have to stick to the rocky parts, which i didn't and what looked like dark sand was in fact mud so i had to get through ankle deep mud to get on the water, definitely won't make that mistake again. On my first run down the channel i kept close to the channel buoys to make sure i didn't hit any of the sand bars and i soon became apparent that the wind direction was pretty square so i knew there wouldn't be any big speeds today. The new Koncept is awesome though and yet again Jesper Orth has improved an already great sail. It's so stable in the gusts which now were gusting upto 25 knots meaning i was was massively overpowered but the sail stayed rock solid and once going just wants to keep accelerating and the cams rotate like there not there. On some of my runs on the day i tried some slingshots off the wind for a few seconds to see it's potential broad off the wind for when i am at West Kirby and i'm stoked with the surge of acceleration you get in the initial bear off and the continuing acceleration from the sail, can't wait to try the smaller sizes :-D

After a couple of hours i was knackered sailing so overpowered for the first time in so long so i headed in for a rest and while on the beach the wind speed started to drop so i called it a day but happy i made the trip up. As the wind was so square i only managed a couple of 29 knot peaks but as the Screamer is more of a freeride board i was happy with my speeds and now i need to get a few more sessions on the 7.5m to get in more tuned so hopefully i won't have to wait as long to get out on it again. If you want to try out the new Koncepts get in touch and i'll hopefully be able to meet up with you so you can get the chance to try these awesome sails for yourself.. 

The picture at the top of the post was taken by Mark Bailey