Sunday, November 4, 2012

Weymouth Speedweek, Portland, Dorset, UK 6th to 12th October

Apologies for how late this report is but i have been really busy since i got back from Weymouth and this is the first chance i have had to write this. Last month i traveled down to Weymouth where i would be competing in Weymouth Speedweek. I wasn't able to get to any of the Irish Speed Events now i'm living in the UK so i had been looking forward to this event all year.

I left Solihull on Friday afternoon, getting down to Weymouth around 8pm and got checked into the Chesil Beach Caravan site where i would be staying for the week sharing a caravan with a couple of mates who were also competing at Speedweek, Neil Hardwick and Chris Bates. As soon as i got everything into the caravan i headed straight down to the Ferrybridge pub for a couple of much needed pints before heading back to the Caravan for an early night to get a decent sleep for the comp the following day.

We all got up early and headed down to the Weymouth & Portland National Sailing Academy where Speedweek is held and got registered but unfortunately the forecast for the day didn't look great with light winds forecasted and the best kit to be on was Formula kit which i didn't have but i hung around anyway to see if the wind would pick up, which unfortunately it didn't so i headed back to the caravan to get ready for the opening night party. As the forecast was for similar conditions the following day a few took advantage of that fact, including myself and had a great time.

Sunday had very similar conditions to the previous day and was formula weather again so i didn't head out as i wouldn't have got going on my biggest kit so it was another day of hanging around on the beach and unfortunately Mondays wind was even worse with racing called off just after Lunch.

On Tuesday though the wind had picked up but from an easterly direction which has to be the worst direction here as the wind is onshore meaning that there is massive chop and swell to contend with on the course. As the wind was blowing 20-24 knots but really gusty i decided to use my Mistral Screamer 123 with 42cm Vector Maui Fins Canefire Fin and 7.5m KA Koncept hoping my bigger board would get me through the lulls easier. It was finding the going hard on the course as the confused water state made it hard for me to pick a decent line through the chop but it was a fun day on the water considering how miserable it was and i managed to get some peak speeds just over 25 knots.

Wednesday brought very similar conditions with winds from the east again and winds around 20 knots but a bit more constant so i decided to use my Mistral Slalom 112 with 40cm Vector Maui Fins Canefire Fin and 7.5m KA Koncept. I had a couple of runs down the course until my day came to a premature end when i had a massive catapult half way down the course, winding myself in the process. After about 10 minutes in the water i made it back in to the beach and called it a day as my ribs were killing me and i didn't want to hurt myself more.

Thursday was a light wind day and another day hanging around for the wind to pick up which i did late in the day but only for the guys with big light wind kit and the wind only came through for an hour until the wind switched off again. For me it was another day hanging around.

On Friday we awoke to find the wind coming from a more Westerly direction which is offshore at Chesil Beach meaning the course was now parallel to the beach taking advantage of the flatter water so speeds would be a lot greater and you could see how happy people were now, but for me this was my chance to improve my position from earlier in the week. The wind was around 12-15 knots and still pretty gusty so i decided to use my Mistral Screamer 123 with a 42cm Vector Maui Fins Canefire Fin, Mistral Slalom 112 with a  40cm Vector Maui Fins Canefire Fin and Mistral Screamer 95 with a 34cm Vector Maui Fins SL9 Alfa Fin and rigged my 6.6m, 7.5m and 8.5m KA Koncept's so i would be covered if the wind picked up or dropped off. When i was ready to go out te wind had picked up slightly and was now around 16-18 knots but with some big lulls so i grabbed my Mistral Screamer 123 with 7.5m KA Koncept hoping the bigger board would help in the lulls and hit the water. Unfortunately the wind dropped off a bit while i was on the water but i still got a couple of runs down the course increasing my speeds from earlier in the week and stayed out until the course was closed for lunch. Heading back on the water after lunch the wind had dropped a little bit more to around 14 knots so i grabbed my 8.5m KA Koncept to go on my Mistral Screamer 123 and went back out on the water and got in some more runs. After about an hour a massive squall came through with winds gusting up to 30 knots just as i lined up to go down the course which meant i was now massively overpowered on my 8.5m but i got down in one piece, almost stacking it a couple of times and that run meant i had improved my peak speed for the week to nearly 29 knots and a 27 knot 500m. I headed back upwind hoping to get in another run but the wind dropped off and that was it for the day and the end of Speedweek.

I finished 46th Overall (24th Gold Fleet) which meant i hadn't achieved my goal of getting into the top 30 but i learned loads and know what i have to practice on for next year and i'll definitely will be back as it's the most enjoyable speed event i have ever been too. If you've been thinking about entering yourself i highly recommend you do so as it's a great introduction into competitive Speed Sailing

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