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WINDSURFING 2006 - A RETROSPECTIVE

Date Date: 01/01/07
WINDSURFING 2006 - A RETROSPECTIVE

I don't know about you but I thought 2006 was a cracking year for windsurfing! As this is my second full year of windsurfing in the UK, I thought I'd log all the sailing I was doing on a spreadsheet and record the conditions, the location, equipment and the 'stoke factor'. I admit this sounds very train spotter-esqe but it proved to be a very insightful exercise into the sort of sailing I'm doing with the club and otherwise, where and on what gear. So 2006 for me turned out the following stats:

Number Of Days Sailed: 36
I'm quite pleased with this effort as by the time you read this it's likely to be 40 days! And they are full days on the water with several sessions in the day.

Windiest months:
+ August 8
+ November 6
+ October 5
+ May 3
+ July 2
+ September 2

Late summer and autumn were the windiest days combined with an Indian summer produced some brilliant conditions. August was a real bonus with a windy Bank Holiday mission with the club to Westward Ho!

Most frequently sailed spots:
+ Pagham 8
+ Gwithian 7
+ Ireland 4
+ Avon 4
The balance of sailing was done at Camber Sands 2, Hayling Island 3, Westward Ho 2!, Worthing 1, Minster 1, West Wittering 1, Rhosneigr 1, Highcliffe 1.

Now looking back, I see a very strong correlation between my favourite spots and the frequency I've sailed there. The fact that they are wavesailing venues and have been producing good conditions this year and I love wavesailing, well - do the maths. Pagham is a surprise but given all the southerlies we got this year it is no wonder. I had some really fun down-the-line wave riding and jumping days at Pagham this year. One Monday in November, I was..er? 'not-feeling-well'... i.e. not well enough to work in an office in London versus staying down on the coast to score a brilliant forecast of a side-shore F6 Southerly and solid swell at Pagham. Needless to say, it was worth the guilt trip and when a bunch of other 'not-feeling-well, doctor's appointment, working from home, cancelled meetings' sailors all rocked up to the beach with cheeky grins - I was not alone! One of the Pagham locals reckoned that it was one of the best down-the-line wave riding days he'd had in 10 years at Pagham! And it was sunny while it was pissing down everywhere else...

Gwithian often produces the goods and the weekend in August that Nick, Rick and I scored were just the best sailing all year. I was on holiday after getting two really fun on-shore wavesailing days Westward Ho! with the club and then popped down to Gwithian to continue the surf trip. When you drive down the windy road to Gwithian you get glimpses of the sea and surf which after a long drive is always exciting. This day was like looking at a Maui scene. Sun beating down, white caps/horses, 20-knot side shore, head high-to-half mast groundswell with the odd logo high set. Just a magic day of down-the-line wave riding. Pure joy. That day proved that the UK can be warm, windy, sunny, cross-shore, with proper ground swells and excellent wave riding!! Needless to say, the evening in the Salt Bar in Hayle was spent reliving it all - the waves getting bigger and our rides longer and more radical with every pint ;)

Ireland was er - interesting. After watching the 'Greenie' DVD for the millionth time, Nick McKay and I were all psyched to hit the north west of Ireland in October to experience these mythical cross-off shore reef breaks. So - off we went to Ireland. As usual, the weather had other plans and rather than the 'normal' weather pattern of westerlies, it was a light south easterly for a week. If this wasn't annoying enough, I was fully armed with local knowledge from the Mullen brothers and I'd spent £20 on ordnance maps of remote beaches in the north west of Ireland. And we were chasing the weather in the south east of Ireland!? We did get some light wind wavesailing in followed by a load of Guinness. I was determined to find wind and waves so using my laptop and my mobile as a modem I scoured the internet looking for a forecast that will be more like the conditions on 'Greenie' ? of course the forecast didn't arrive but a phone bill from Orange arrived shortly after with £125 worth of data charges! (I don't think I'll be using my mobile phone as a modem in a hurry again soon)

Avon was a top spot the times I sailed there this year. It's the only place I've found that is cross-offshore in a south westerly and has a couple of sand bars that kick up a nicely formed wave which is great for jumping and one of the best wave riding spots I've found on the south coast. Also, it is not so tide dependant and there is a café right by the car park. Sweet.

The sailing standard at Pagham, Avon and Gwithian has been very high with a few pros, semi-pros, and local gurus just charging. Watching from the beach you were treated to an amazing display of looping and wave riding. I saw one guy bail out of a 30' backloop at Pagham - you could have been in Pozo. It's great sailing when the standard is high as you get pushed and you see some great sights, like the guy who did a huge back loop right in front of me dry landing it only feet away from me as I was riding in. What a great perspective! it still amazes me what people can do on a sailboard and I've been sailing since '81.


Sail Usage
+ 4.0: 3 8%
+ 4.5: 5 13%
+ 5.0: 10 26%
+ 5.7: 10 26%
+ 6.4: 10 26%


Another interesting fact, to me anyway, is the usage I'm getting from my sail quiver. It?s not likely to be a surprise that big sails get the most use but an even spread across the 5.0, 5.7 and 6.4 means there has been a lot of F4-F6 days. I only busted out the 4.0 a few times, which is never enough in my books. The 4.5 got a few airings, which is good as this is my favourite sail size.

Board Usage
+ Starboard 85L Kombat FSW x 59cm: 14 40%
+ JP 98L FSW x 62cm: 13 37%
+ Starboard 88L Acid Wave x 56cm: 2 6%
+ Starboard 74L Evo Wave x 56cm: 6 17%

Other useless stats include the boards. I was pleased to discover that the 85 litre Free Style Wave got the most time on the water. It was a close call with the 98L but as soon as it's 5.7 weather I'll whip out the 85L. This size is very popular with many windsurfers and so much with me that I've recently added another wave board to my fleet in the form of a big 'real' wave board - the 88L Acid. I got this board to be my Gwithian/proper wave spot board for 5.7 and 5.0 down-the-line sailing as the Free Style Wave is a bit too stiff in the riding department for good quality waves. The last thing I need is another bloody board but the best wave sailing I had this year was on 5.7-5.0 sails and after driving an 11 hour round trip and a £100 in petrol to get to Gwithian - I thought at least I can justify busting out the right board for the conditions!?...

The 74L Evo is not getting as much action as I hoped. The days I've had on it have been great but it needs waves to ride to get the most out of it so I tend to use the 85L if it is more on-shore, flat-ish or 5.0 weather.

So there you have 2006 - a windsurfing retrospective. I hope my analysis of 2006 was of as much interest to you as it was to me!? (No wonder I'm not married?)

Here's hoping 2007 will be windy, wavy, and warm!

Aloha,

Kiwi Steve

Last updated: 03/05/07 00:19 By: Andrew
Views: 1660