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National Windsurfing Championships 2018
Iona receiving her trophy from Guy Cribb having come first in her fleet (4.5m)


After today, I can die happy

Diary summary statistics

By Board
By Sail
By Board/sail
VenuesBoard sizeTotal
Lake Garda Italy        2     2
Weymouth 1 11   5     8
Poole   2 8  112  1 24
Christchurch 5 7 10  344   161
Lepe & Calshot   2     1    3
Quiberon, France     1  234    28
Maui  1    4      5
Hayling Island        2     2
Prasonisi, Rhodes     14       5
Kos, Greece1  1      12  5

Each cell shows number of sessions, click on a cell for more details.

Lake Garda Italy on 06/10/17

Rating:1 star rating
Board:110 litres

Well, that's exactly what happens when you haven't sailed for ages, you're desperate to go out and even though the conditions look appalling, you think "I'm going to do it ANYWAY!"

You go out in an offshore wind (it's supposed to turn southerly in the afternoon on Garda, but it's stayed Northerly; unusual + lovely and gusty!)

You fly off the beach downwind in a ballistic gust, get hauled over the front then can't waterstart because there isn't a breath.

You uphaul like a beginner, then catch a ballistic gust and fly across the lake at warp speed on water that is as flat as a pancake. Then you get backwinded, get dumped in and can't waterstart because there isn't a breath. Repeat.

Then you see that you are miles away from the shore and wonder how you're going to get back because any time you get near the shore there is either NO wind at all or ballistic, swirling gusts that keep dumping you in the water and making you uphaul like a beginner.

Then you hang off your boom like a monkey, swearing your head off because you're knackered and fed up with uphauling like a beginner (sorry Italian bloke - I hope you didn't understand all those words that I shouted that rhyme with 'duck';) and cut upwind until your arms are nearly hanging off, getting beaten about and backwinded in ballistic, swirling gusts. And uphauling like a beginner because every time you get dumped in there isn't a breath.

Then you land, praise the Lord and carry your kit back over a narrow bridge in ballistic, swirling gusts, repeating more words that rhyme with duck when pedestrians and cyclists just can't wait 1 second to let you stagger across the bridge trying to keep your sail under control - then report back to your husband that he was absolutely right not to bother and tell him OW - MY FOREARMS ARE KILLING ME!

Lake Garda Italy on 25/09/17

Rating:4 star rating
Board:110 litres

Our 18th Wedding Anniversary and what a way to break a 3-month wind drought!

The Ora - not gold, but more rare and sought after - the southerly blow on Lake Garda!

We gave a mixed account of ourselves; carrying our fully rigged sails over the bridge from campsite Maroadi, we had to avoid impatient cyclists (just CAN'T wait, even when we had let loads of them through) Mark moved to one side with his sail and unfortunately, hooked into the bridge with his harness! That didn't make for an elegant traverse!

We got blasting on a surprisingly choppy lake - it has looked like a mirror for the last week... The blasting bit was fine, but oh my word, the fitness... There was plenty of light-wind waterstarting practice in the lulls and it was KNACKERING! And for some reason, even on a board 75cm wide, I had lost the ability to uphaul. Go figure!

Still, we have never managed to windsurf on our anniversary before - last year we had to leave Barbatre on the Island of Noirmoutier in a 25kt blast because the campsite closed that day :(

I can honestly say, it was the best anniversary present EVER!

Quiberon, France on 09/07/17

Rating:4 star rating
Board:110 litres

There is promise of 18kts this evening?

WOO HOO! That wind came through. Like last night, there was nothing at the beach but they were flying out back. Mark needed some persuasion to go out but thanked me later for persuading him! We bogged down to the Isthmus then got flying! I did one gorgeous, sun drenched reach, a beautiful gybe, locked down into planing position; then a screw gave way on my front foot strap and off it came. Bugger! Mark came over and we tried to effect a repair on the high seas using the batten screw out of the sail. Whichever way I looked at it, only a Philips screwdriver would do. I resigned myself to a gusty 1 mile beat back upwind to avail myself of one!

I snuck into the awning to retrieve the screwdriver and was heartbroken to hear little Ruby crying. I was haunted by the mournful cries, but high tailed it back to the beach. Footstrap intact, I impressed myself by doing a clew first beach start and sailing clew first down the length of the swimming area. (We are not allowed to sail in the swimming area, which is usually empty. All the swimmers seem to favour swimming in the launch area, where the wind is really gusty, which makes it quite a challenge!)

Back at the Isthmus, the wind had got up a couple of knots and Mark and I were flying along in tandem, whooping with joy. He said he felt like his old self, which is wonderful to hear. We shredded the bay until I could do no more and decided to go in for the doggies. He was not long behind me as the wind dropped off, but what a session!

Quiberon, France on 08/07/17

Rating:3 star rating
Board:110 litres

The wind tempted us, so we rigged up. Gilles was flying out the back, but he was on a 9.4. We decided to try leaving the doggies ? we left our keys with Jean and warned our French neighbours. They seemed pretty cool about it!

For me it was disappointing. I had wondered about rigging my 7.5 but am not very windsurfing fit, so stuck with the trusty 6.3. I got in the front strap a couple of times but the wind was a bit puffy and every time I thought that I would get going I was disappointed. I thoroughly enjoyed chugging around on the glistening waters of the bay just in my shorts and a rashie.

Mark, however, went up towards the inlet at Plouharnel and was flying the whole time! I am really glad ? it is his first sail in ages. He even had to take the label off his new harness! I worked my way back upwind and got the doggies as a welcoming committee. Kai even swam out to Mark on his board and I so wished that I had the camera when all the doggies sat on the board with Mark!

Christchurch on 26/05/17

Rating:3 star rating
Board:110 litres

A lot of fun in the sun! It was a glorious day with temperatures in the 80s, not bad for may. The wind was a little disappointing, forecast with gusts up to 20mph E, it was really feeble and puffy, although it was entertaining to watch everyone trying to squeeze the max out of it.

It was like a light wind, early planing masterclass; people bearing off so hard to get going that they ended up at the far end of the harbour; Helen with her bum nearly in the water doing the perfect 'drop and push' and people pumping their sails ferociously - but we all continued to bog around! Trudi was the bravest, opting for her monster 7m cammed sail.

I would like you to know that I did get planing. I had my foot in the front strap for at least 4 seconds! We all came in saying "Just a few knots more..."

It was great to see the gang - John W and Bryn came down to join Mary, Helen, Trudi and I and we met Thelma and Mike for the first time. They have moved down from Minnis Bay. "Do you know Bob Edom?" we asked. Bob Edom be scared - we've now got all the gossip!

The huge irony was that just after we took this photo, at 14:45 when we had all de-rigged, the sea breeze kicked in. It was like someone had turned on a switch. Of course, this coincided perfectly with the tide ebbing to make the harbour unsailable. We tried to ignore it, kept smiling and went for a coffee on Avon Beach. There, we were treated to the sight of a couple of chaps on race boards ruining our view of the Isle of Wight by ripping across the bay, making the most of the capricious sea breeze.

This supports my notion perfectly that the collective noun for a group of windsurfers should be 'an optimism.'

Christchurch on 14/05/17

Rating:4 star rating
Board:110 litres

Another GLORIOUS sunny Force 4 day. Bernie was out and saw Carl to chat to, along with a lovely, smiley chap who I had seen on the water. He said he had struggled to keep planing as he needed to get the board settled for a while before he could get in the footstraps. I only realised later that he had a prosthetic leg. What a LEGEND!

Weymouth on 16/04/17

Rating:4 star rating
Board:110 litres

I HAVEN'T FORGOTTEN HOW TO DO IT. HAPPY EASTER! Finally got windsurfing on Easter Sunday at Weymouth after full intent on Not-so-Good Friday. Van packed, sarnies made, even remembered me dry undies - then the forecast was downgraded from 16kts to an actual of 6mph!

Me new harness was FAN Dabbi Dozie and I didn't make a complete prat of myself, as I usually do at Weymouth. (1. riding my board up the slipway. 2. Going the wrong way through a windsurf race. 3. Falling off in front of the USA Olympic Team who were filming. 4. Nearly beheading Nick Dempsey, our Olympic hope for 2012 and 2016. 5. Crashing into and sliding down a buoy covered in gull poo in front of Guru Jim Collis, etc.) Until, that is, the last 10 minutes. I did grown up windsurfing, replete with dry tacks and gybes. Mark said "You were sailing really well until the last 10 minutes! What happened?!" I think I just got tired and everything went Pete Tong. I considered my rig flip for so long on my last gybe that I got back-winded and the sail knocked me in. Then I got up, fell in, got up, fell in, got up, fell in - and decided that it was time for a coffee and a giant Cherry Bakewell!

Mark didn't sail as he had an inexplicable sore wrist. This meant that I had a dog-sitter, rigging bitch and was able to sleep in the van all the way home. Result!

Home for Haggis, Neeps and Tatties. Just one of the dins that we had missed in our 3 months in Italia.

Quiberon, France on 24/09/16

Rating:4 star rating
Board:110 litres

Our anniversary present came a day early, which is lucky as the campsite told us that we had to leave on the morning of Sunday 25th!

The forecast downgraded on Sunday from about 30kts to 15. I was pleased on a second count as I didn?t fancy towing a large caravan over the bridge in 30kts and I am not sure that we are the perfect vehicle for the Passage du Gois, the low tide exit from the island across the sand.

The wind was a little too Southerly in the morning but it swung round in the early afternoon. There were a few kites out further down the beach and a lone windsurfer. We decided that it was time to get rigged! My 6.3 and 110 were more or less ready, so I went out as guinea pig. The tide was just on the turn and it was absolutely beautiful ? smooth rolling waves to ride; joyous! I did a few reaches then came in and told Markie to go out in case the wind dropped.

We had a couple of short sessions each and just didn?t want to stop! We were making just about all of our transitions ? I had dry hair until I over-thought a gybe on the inside, but even then, had dropped it in depth so only had to beach start. The chap with the black lab had stopped to watch us.

We were shattered by the time we had de-rigged and washed all the sand off the kit then packed up the caravan for a swift exit tomorrow. Our last move to St Malo! I think we will be leaving a little piece of our hearts in Barbatre.

Quiberon, France on 17/09/16

Rating:4 star rating
Board:110 litres

We planned to go to Noirmoutier, but when I took the dogs to the beach, a chap and his son were launching. His son was a beginner, but the chap got planing on his first reach! I rushed back, as I had left Mark de-rigging, because no more wind is forecast! Fortunately, he had only de-rigged yesterday?s 5.2, so I rushed down with my 6.3 / 110 and had a cheeky, lovely hour!

It is amazing how the Atlantic punished me yesterday yet today was smooth, sunkissed and loving! I didn?t even get my hair wet as I glided round gybes, carved S shapes on little waves and tacked on the inside to keep upwind?! I had to work for my reaches, but it was really beautiful when I got planing and I went miles out with every run. It was so much less tiring than yesterday and so much less terrifying?! Poor Mark decided that it was probably best to be cautious. It has eased, but he is still in a lot of pain from yesterday.

Quiberon, France on 16/09/16

Rating:4 star rating
Board:102 litres


The wind today was a bit more than forecast and came through earlier. We were expecting an early evening sail. We had a lazy morning but could feel the wind shaking the awning. We took the dogs to the beach; the predictive iPod which had played 'It's Raining Again' then ELO was right and Mr Blue Sky did come out. We looked at the conditions and thought we better rig!

Mark did a test run on my 6.3 and told me that he didn?t want any more sail?! I rigged the 5.2 and took the 102. The conditions were challenging ? it was getting towards high tide, so there was quite a shore break and it was fairly wavy out the back. Considering I haven?t windsurfed for a couple of months and haven?t ridden the 102 since I don?t know when, I was delighted! I made my gybe out the back on the face of a wave and was still planing when I flipped the rig! My fitness leaves a bit to be desired and I had to land after each run. I made most of my gybes but water starting was a bit tricky and extremely tiring in the large swells.

We made the mistake of ?just one more run? ? the wind had got up and was really honking! I was hugely overpowered and dropped my gybe. It took me ages to waterstart as the sail kept being ripped out of my hand and at one point, I had to stop, have a rest and get my breath back! Then Mark got trashed in the shore break. He would have got going on my 5.2, but he got hauled over the front. We both limped back; I have a sore butt tock where I got flattened in the shore break but nevertheless, it was a massive amount of fun and we feel like proper windsurfers again!

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