Sunday, April 29, 2012

UKWA Inlands Round 1 & MWA Round 2, Pitsford Reservoir, UK April 21st & 22nd 2012

Last weekend was the first round of the UKWA Inlands and also the second round of the Midland Windsurfing Association Race Series. I finished work on Friday afternoon at my usual time time of 12.15 and went home, got a quick shower, packed the van and got on the road. As with most of the UKWA National and Regional events Pitsford is close to Birmingham where i am now based and is only 45 miles away so only took me around an hour to get there and i arrived at 4pm. As i was one of the first competitors to arrive i got a great spot to get parked and got my gear sorted out. As i didn't get a chance to put sail numbers on my new 8.5m KA Koncept that was my first task and once that was done i rigged up my 10.5m Raceboard Sail and 9.5m KA Koncept as the forecast was not showing winds above 15 knots all weekend and fitted a 50cm Vector Maui Fins Canefire fin to my Starboard Phantom 380 Race. Around 7pm i headed into Brixworth, the local village next to the reservoir to get some food and found a great pub called the George where i had some good food and after a couple of beers headed back to my van to get a decent nights sleep ahead of the weekends racing.

I awoke early on the Saturday morning to see there was a little bit of wind, around 5-6 knots so i went a registered and got some breakfast and at 10am we were called out on the water for the first race. The wind was pretty gusty and shifty as is usually the case here which made for some great racing in the 2 races we had before lunch and i was finding i was usually in the wrong place at the wrong time when the shifts were coming through which was annoying but it was the same for everyone else. After lunch we were called back onto the water for another race which was held in similar conditions but i was beginning to read the shifts a bit better and made up some places but i made the worst mistake you can when racing by missing the gate i had to sail through before the finish which meant all the hard work i put in during this race was undone and instead of moving up a couple of places in the overall rankings i had to count this as my first disguard of the events. Soon after the finish the wind dropped right off and the race officer made the call to postpone racing for the time being and once i made it back to the shore i saw my sail was ripped and when the call was made to go back on the water and this was the sail i needed i had to unfortunately miss the 4th race. I was disappointed with this but that's racing sometimes and you have to accept these things happen.

On Sunday morning we woke to see not much wind, around 5 knots like the previous day but with wind forecasted to pick up i waited until the last minute to see which sail i would need. My 10.5m was now available again as i had the chance to fix it once the sail had dried but at the last second before hitting the water for the 5th race at 10am i grabbed my 9.5m KA Koncept instead which turned out to be a good decision as not long after the wind started gusting up to 15 knots which now made the racing interesting and my weight was not now so much of a disadvantage when the wind was up but in the lulls i was finding that i was loosing ground but i still got some better results than the previous day in the 4 races that were held before the race officer called it a day.

I finished 17th Overall, 5th Master and 1st overall in the Raceboard Unlimited Fleet (UKWA Inland Ranking) and 8th Overall, 3rd Master and 1st Overall Raceboard Unlimited Fleet (Midlands Windsurfing Association Series Ranking) which i am a little disappointed with as i know i can do better but hopefully a future events i wont make stupid mistakes or have any damage to my gear. The next event now is the UKWA Inlands Round 2 at Bewl in May so i'll hope to see some of you there

Friday, April 13, 2012

Round Hayling, Hayling Island, UK 6th April 2012

On Thursday 5th April i headed down to Hayling Island for the annual Round Hayling Windsurfing Marathon which was to be held on Friday 6th April getting there at 8pm where a met up with Jon White at the Inn on the Beach where he was camping in his Camper Van to give him a bit of info about getting round the Island. Lea Spencer was also down to compete in his first ever slalom event that was to be held at the Inn on the Beach on the Saturday and Sunday. After catching up over a few beers i drove over to the Hayling Island Sailing Club where i had booked accommodation. Usually i sleep in my van but after seeing the forecasted temps of minus degrees overnight i decided to book into the rooms that Hayling Island Sailing Club have on offer and at 20 pounds for 1 night they are very good value.

I woke up at 7am and went out to my van to move it closer to the waters edge as the car park was full last night and the first thing i saw was ice on the windscreen so the decision to stay in the accommodation looked to be a good one. Not long after David Gollick from arrived as he was going to have a stand set up displaying the fins he has for sale so i help him set everything up and after we were finished doing that and after some bacon sandwiches i got my gear ready for the race. Unfortunately the forecasted wind was only showing 4-6 knots which meant another slog around the island so i rigged up my 10.5m Raceboard sail and got my Starboard Phantom 380 ready and waited for the start of the race at 12' o clock.

We all gathered by the race tower of the Sailing Club just before 12 and waited for the starting gun which when sounded there was a mass beach start as the race started and we all headed towards Northney Marina and Langstone Bridge. As we had Northerly winds the first leg was a long beat up the Harbour :-( so i decided to head up the left side with about half the fleet as there didn't look like too much wind in the middle and the other half of the fleet went up the right. Unfortunately this turned out to be a bad decision as once they got over the right hand side there was more wind and they got a decent lift and once i realized this i headed over the right myself but it was too late by now and the front runners were a good distance ahead. The beat up the Harbour itself was not fun as the wind was shifting all over the place making headway difficult and i must have put in over 50 tacks to get up there but after 1.5 hours i finally was able to turn west towards Langstone Bridge. As i approached the bridge i remembered from what to do from last year which was to try and carry as much speed as you can and at the last minute grab the uphaul, lower the sail to the water and drift under the bridge and then up haul the sail on the other side.

Now the wind was behind us which made the next leg through Langstone easier and as the tide was now with us this made getting though the Harbour towards the ferryboat Inn at the entrance to Langstone Harbour was alot easier than last year. I managed to make up a few places here that i has lost on the first leg before the bridge but the front runners were nowhere to be seen. I reached the entrance to Langstone Harbour about 2 1/2 hours after i started and as i passed through the second gate i was told they were stopping the race there. I was gutted to be told this as i knew i could have got along the sea front and to hear i was only 1/2 an hour behind the leaders made being stopped here harder to take.

I managed to finish 19th overall and 7th in the Silver fleet which meant at least this year i had result after not finishing last year and this has made me more determined to finish it next year and use what i have learned over the past two years to make this happen. For me now the next event is the 1st round of the UKWA Inlands and 2nd Round of the Midlands Regional Raceboard Series at Pitsford on the 21st and 22nd of April so i hope to see some of you there

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

MWA Round 1 Hollowell Reservoir, Northamptonshire, UK March 24th 2012

On March 24th i made the short trek over to Hollowell Reservoir in Northamptonshire from Birmingham for the 1st round of the Midlands Windsurfing Association Race Series. As i am now based in the Midlands in the UK this race series was one i wanted to take part in as quite a few of the guys i race against in the UKWA national events take part so it is great practice for the national events.

On arrival at 9am there was little to no wind but the forecast was showing it to pick up as the day went on to around 5 knots the race officer laid a box course as we all rigged up. As there was little chance of there being any strong winds the decision of what to rig was easy so i got my Starboard Phantom 380 Race with 50cm Vector Maui Fins Canefire fin ready and rigged my 10.5m Raceboard sail and registered and got changed as the first start was going to be 11am so i wanted to be ready. The first 3 races were held virtually back to back with a short rest between them in very testing conditions as the wind was only around 4-5 knots and very gusty but i had decent speed upwind keeping up with everyone but once off the wind i was finding it hard to keep up with the others as they weighed so much lighter (20kgs in some cases) than myself which i have known for awhile has been an issue for me but one i am working on trying to get my weight down to 80kg.

After a quick lunch we had another 2 races before the race officer called it a day and although i don't like these light shifty conditions i had great fun on the water with some very close racing between myself and a couple of the sailors. I finished the day 7th Overall and 1st in the Raceboard Unlimited fleet which is a good start for the year and hopefully i can build on this and get a decent final ranking once the race series has finished. The next event for me now is the Round Hayling on April 6th so i will hopefully see some of you on the water if your down there