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Sun 07 March - Dahab final report - Ross Ketteridge
The holiday not only exceeded expectations on all fronts but got better and better as far as the sailing went. The final day was outstanding.

As on Saturday, the wind blew in its usual northerly direction, as it had done the whole night and as it was doing when the bus left at 5pm. Instead of giving us the challenge of sub 4m survival sailing, though, Sunday dished up a four hour session of sustained F6 wind with F7 gusts. So sail sizes were between 4.5 and 5.0m this time.

Unlike Saturday, which was the only overcast day of the holiday (not helped by a dust storm that gave the appearance of mist!), Sunday was bathed in sunshine, so the sailing conditions were just perfect, with turquoise water, much steadier winds and about mid-twenties temperatures, compared to the mid thirties of previous days (that had killed the wind somewhat).

The Harry Nass hire centre, situated at the left hand end of the bay, 200m from our hotel rooms, is the easiest to launch from in most wind directions. The main bay gives reaches of about two km. Although the wind was blowing offshore, a half km long sand bar effectively gives a protected area in which to sail. In this area the water is flattish but with enough chop to give a challenge and some small airs. Outside of this “zone 1” area is zone 2 which is basically the open ocean on the other side of the sand bar. This leads, after quite distance, to a reef in zone 3 where wave sailing was possible. Zones 2 and 3 are covered by two-way radio for all sailors from the HN centre.

In the circumstances the best bet was to get some serious gybing practice in zone 1 and some fantastic impromptu drag racing to the far side of the bay. For me it was an absolutely superb day of sailing with a small sail on a small board. One of the main things you wish for on a holiday like this is that you come away a better sailor than you were before you went, even if by a small degree. For me personally, I felt that the last two days moved me forward a bit. The shallow water at the HN centre end of the bay allows friends to wade out to a tower with a dry camera to take shots (refer to hundreds of Windsurf mag shots) so hopefully Cath or Harvey captured some proof that I actually did some fully planing carve gybes!

So in the end everybody got a seriously good fix and came away with blistered hands and very wide grins.

Dahab now rates as the best windsurfing holiday location I have ever been to. It has everything. As I mentioned at the start, it exceeded expectations on all fronts. The temperatures of the air and the sea were warmer than expected. The hotel complex, built in traditional Egyptian style, no more than one storey high, gave the beach a laid-back village look. The white buildings are set in lush mature gardens with lots of green grass and beautiful bright flowers. The air-conditioned accommodation was fantastic. The huge selection of hot and cold buffet food (we were half board) was varied and very good in quality. The service by all at the hotel village complex was friendly, genuine and efficient. Sportif staff were great, especially in times of small crisis, like when Dave realised that he had not been handed his return tickets during the outbound check-in at Manchester. The Harry Nass Centre was well-run with great facilities, a great location and was choc-a-block full of toys from the JP stable as well as F2. Barnesy would have been like a kid in a sweet shop - JP Waves, Freeride Carves, X-Cite Rides, Freestyle, etc, etc. - yum yum! Even when the wind didn’t blow we were not stuck for things to do in the immediate vicinity. Activities included wakeboarding, water skiing, canoeing, swimming, archery, snorkelling (the best in the world, perhaps?), table tennis and just chilling out in the very relaxed atmosphere. The opposite end of the bay was more lively than our very relaxed ambience, with a number of other WS hire centres, the Dahab Hilton hotel complex and a handful of bars, so whatever your preference, Dahab bay delivers.

My final tally, as far as sailing stats goes, was five days of planing windsurfing out of seven, during what is one of the less regular wind periods in Dahab.

You can see why people keep going back. So for me, it’s not a case of if I will go back, but when. I’m looking forward to it already.

Finally, sincere thanks to Tim, Dave, Terry, Tony, Peter, Catherine and Harvey for taking the chance, and spending the cash, to come, for being excellent company and for making my fortieth birthday very special and totally unforgettable. Special thanks to Tim for not snoring, Peter for organising the whole thing, Cath for being one of the lads (and doing the action photography!), Harvey for his great tales, Dave for teaching me how to bluff at poker, Terry just for being Terry and making me laugh and to Tony for being a great gybe marker on Sunday!!

Sat 06 March, Dahab - Ross Ketteridge
We knew that today might be a bit different from the preceding big-sail sailing days here when the wind started to blow at 6pm last night. Added to that was the fact that all forecasts were predicting a Northerly F5. Northerly is the "usual" Dahab direction. Cross offshore. What we got, from 9am to 4pm, was a steady F7!! Okay, there were some gusts. These were F8. A sample of size stats:
Tim, 3.8m/91lt
Ross, 4.0m/84lt.
Peter, 4.2m/115lt
Amazingly some of the rest of the gang wrestled with boards of 130lt plus, but all who hit the water (often literally!) deserved medals of varying metal types. Gold has to go to Tim, who not only water started in conditions that were essentially "flat water" (but in reality were "very small chop and flying spray everywhere"), but made some great screaming runs one of which had a GYBE at the end of it! For me it rated as perhaps the most exhilarating three-hour sailing session of my life (with the smallest sail I have ever rigged). The spectating whilst resting in the shallows was superb too, with flat water forward loops, spocks, grubbies and some quite fantastic wipeouts. For example, Tony's interesting interpretation of an overpowered gybe where he runs along the board whilst carving at high speed and then dives backwards head first into the water.
As I write this report the wind is still howling and the forecast for tomorrow is even windier, so they say.

Whatever tomorrow brings, for Tim and I at least, we have so far enjoyed 4 days planing out of 6.

Friday 5th March - Dahab - Tim Robertson
I must write this quickly because if I'm caught gloating I'll be lynched...
Today was another day of 16 knot morning wind but the recipe for having fun was to get to the centre before 9, get a 7.7 or 8.2 sail and weigh less than 75k. Suffice to say RK and TR were not the most popular of members!
Harvey had a good day (both today and yesterday) getting comfortable in the harness and working on footstrap technique.
I think frustrating sums up everyone elses day unfortunately - not the over 90's finest hour.

Monday 1st March - Dahab day 1 - Tim Robertson
We arrived in Dahab yesterday evening and were all very impressed with the setup; The hotel is nice, the food is good, the people seem friendly and then like kids in a sweet shop we marvelled at the boards in the Harry Nass centre. There must be a hundred boards all lined up pretty much 50:50 between JP's and F2's. But there was absolutely no wind...
This morning after breakfast however the flags started lifting and we had about 3 hours of big board sailing - 130 - 160l and 6.9 - 7.2's the order of the day (The bigger sails had been taken by the time we had registered). There was some planing by a couple of the lighter weights and some helitack lessons and backwinded sailing going on in the warm waters. Given that windguru had predicted no sailing till tomorrow I think we're mostly quite happy.

Snow and Sunshine at the boardwalk 22 Feb - Paul Barnes
I met Steve C and the Freeman at Amble at about 1100 it was snowing quite heavily and I was starting to think this might not be a good idea. The wind was very onshore and a consequence the waves were being blown into messy onshore slop. We moved to Hadston to find near perfect cross-shore and small waves, however the local fishing contingent were out in force and there was no space to launch. We were not bothered though we wanted waves! We moved to the Boardwalk end where we were not disappointed. The waves were huge and (we convinced ourselves) clean enough to ride. I rigged a 5.4 and my new JP wave and Steve rigged a 4.7 and his Skate waveboard. Andy stood in for the chairman and wore the big girls blouse and bottled it muttering something about it being cold. It wasnt even freezing and the snow had stopped and the sun was shining. Not the old Andy I once knew.
What followed can only be describes as carnage. We launched and got pounded by the waves. After twenty minutes neither of us had made it out past the break let alone got a wave ride. Steve got a lucky set and made it out once flying back in on a behemoth of a wave. That wound me up so I made more of an effort and got out, catching a half-decent wave back in. Then Andy pointed out that there was a bit a channel further up the beach so we made for it to making getting out more easy.
We were joined by Adrian, who made a sterling effort to launch only to get a twenty-minute rinsing. We were quite worried on the beach for a while as we couldnt see him of his kit but the rip had pushed him a couple of hundred yards down the beach and spat him out. Respect to the guy for getting on with it though. He was completely unfazed by his thrashing.
The wind died off a bit and the snow started again so we sheltered behind on of those concrete blocks for a while. Steve then said, The snow has started blowing down the beach again so the wind must be back. Lets go again. It wasnt until afterwards a thought what a daft statement that was.
Steve and I both got a few more waves before the wind started to die off and the rip current got so bad that even beach starting was difficult.
We sat out another snowstorm and decided to call it a day. I was thankful and frankly surprised that all of our gear was intact. I had expected to at least to have seen a broken mast in those conditions.
We derigged in yet another snowstorm and as I left the car thermometer was reading zero degrees. Maybe Andy was right it was freezing after all!
A cold but good couple of hours.

Ice cold in Amble.- Addendum from Andy

I was going to dribble on about the dangers of hypothermia and putting others at risk by sailing when you are too cold but I decided against that.
Instead I shall just say that the nappy wearing, rather have a roast lunch and a glass of wine, big girls blouse club might just have a new temporary member.

The conditions did indeed look good if a little challenging for the ambient temperature. I had many laughs watching the silly buggers getting rinsed time after time in the obviously fun combination of huge dumping waves and flukey winds on the inside.

By the way the boatramp end was looking much better with 2 foot swell, much more spaced out as I left for my lunch and a change of huggies.

Before a jury of my peers convenes and expels me from the MBON I should like to say I now have a temperature and feel quite awful and so feel my feeling of the cold today might have been justified.

Fri 06 Feb Hadston challenges - Ross Ketteridge
I shall not try to emulate the fine reports from Barnesy and Tony from the earlier part of the week. My more modest offering may reflect the fact that Friday afternoon was a less of an epic session.
That may be the case but it was well worth a half-day holiday. In brief, it was a satisfying day in that I came out of it alive and with my equipment intact, but it was hardly a good afternoon of sailing by any stretch of the imagination.
On arrival the tide was in and the sea was a mist of white spray from the wind line at about 200m out. The wind was cross with a bit of off and around F6. I rigged 4.1m/75lt, the smallest combo I have ever sailed. On the inside the wind was extremely gusty and therefore much wallowing and restarting was needed to get to the wind line. Once out to this point it suddenly got really scary, with even my tiny sail being way overpowered at times, on top of which the sea very quickly stacked up into close spaced chop of considerable size and steepness.
For me it was a short (1.5hour) session of learning to sail in very gusty survival conditions, blasting out, crashing and blasting back in. Educational, exhilarating, but never elegant. The others (Gavin, Barnsey, Adrian, Tony C and Steve B) faired a bit better. Gavin did amazingly well on a 100lt board that was way too big under his 4.2m sail. Steve, on a 4.7, sailed out, gybed and came back as if it was a 6m day, although even he found the gusty wind tricky to say the least. The temp stayed at 8 degrees but it felt colder.

Hadston Boat ramp Thurs 5 Feb - Paul Barnes
Still knackered from Tuesdays swell and waves session I arrived at the beach to see white caps as far as the eye could see and perfectly flat water bathed in winter sunshine. It was very windy probably gusting force 8 at times. Steve Boyd and I, after a search for some waves decided that the flat water would have to do settled for the boat ramp. We were soon joined by Mat, Ray, Adrian and briefly Andy. We all rigged around 4.5m and sub 100 litre boards. Mat and I were first on the water and after a few runs consisting of planing for 100 yards then jumping/crashing waterstarting and sailing back in. We were joined by the Boyd who sailed straight out about a mile, gybed, then sailed back to the beach laughing, we decided that wed better get our balls attached and start sailing! The next few hours were of brilliant overpowered survival sailing with a few small waves thrown into the mix at high tide. Tony Champion turned up and said that XC weather was showing gusts of 50mph at Boulmer so he had decided not to sail. A decision he regretted after seeing how flat it was.
Everyone was enjoying doing their own speciality, I got some air, Steve some impressive turns on the waves, Ray carving his gybes and Mat breaking his kit. Andy only sailed for about an hour and Adrian blasted until his arms almost fell off. To cap it off it was all captured on camera by Gavin (see gallery section).
We all left the beach with very big smiles on our faces.
A near perfect day.

Holmes Reoport Tues 3 February - Tony (thought better of it) C
Holmes: Capital Idea, this walk on the beach Watson
Watson: Pon my word Holmes. There is a mighty wind. I can scarce keep my feet in the gusts.
Holmes:Yes, the sea is white and the wind blows the tops off the waves. Spare a thought for the sailors on a day like this. I say, that great cloud of spray, was it a grampus?
Watson: Lend me your glass Holmes. Thank you. No, twasnt a grampus, it is a rarer beast, in fact several of them. We have the rare pleasure of witnessing a group of Homo semisapiens rubrus displaying to their females.
Holmes: Why are they called rubrus? They seem to be possessed of a shiny black hide. Surely a primate should have hair?
Watson: In fact the subspecific rubrus was coined because the first specimen recorded had red hair and it is thought that although their hair can be almost any colour or length the most spectacular displays are put on by the red haired variety.
Holmes: But where are the females?
Watson: That is a puzzle the Royal Zoological Society cannot explain but it is also why they are called semisapiens. They waste all this energy on display and put themselves in some danger when there are no females around. They are an interesting species, semiaquatic with long arms and despite possessing testicles large beyond the wildest dreams of man or woman they remain rare.
Holmes: Lets shelter behind this rock and observe them for a while. They are obviously dexterous and used to manipulating tools, but their balance seems to be faulty. They stand on these coloured boards fitted with, can they be sails? They skid across the surface of the wave and then fall in with a great cloud of spray.
Watson: Yes. This is the purpose of the display. You see how after they fall in, they raise the sail out of the water and flap it to gain attention before they rise from the deep for another short skid across the waves. You see how they also jump clear of the waves before crashing back into the sea with that great cloud of spray you witnessed previously. It is believed that the females are particularly impressed by these spectacular landings.
Holmes: I am not convinced that the biological explanation is correct. It would appear that this display could equally have a religious function and that they are jumping as high as they can in remembrance of a prophet who ascended into the sky. Their plunge back into the sea is a mock self sacrificial act to appease the deity for their inability to reach the sky and look, their sails are covered in strange runes.
Watson: Indeed Holmes I think you are right and did you hear that? At the top of a particularly high jump one of them uttered a shrill cry. It sounded like Oh God, Help me I shall write to the National Geographic Society in the morning.
With apologies to Barnsey, Ginge, Ray, Andy, Gavin and Adrian who suffered a gnarly day at Hadston on 4.5 to 4.9 sails some more successfully than others.

1st February Hadston Boat Ramp - Peter Amos
When I arrived shortly after 12.00 I found a gathering of windsurfers doing the usual shaking of heads and muttering about it being windy everywhere else and that it was sure to pickup. Personally I had already predicted that the wind we had been promised would not arrive after getting a panic call from Ross to ask if I could meet his Mum at his house to pick up a couple of sails. He had stayed at a friends the night before with the car packed with kit and forgotten two sails. When he told me they were his 4.1 & 4.7 I nearly refused, and as it turned out perhaps I should have!
Then Steve Carragher drove up to jump out of car to say he was going out anyway, so we had our wind monkey. We at that stage being Ross, Barnsey, Andy, Ray, Alistair, Steve B, Tony C, Tim, Ally and me.
As it happened the wind did pick up and I began to worry whether the 7.0 I had rigged was too big. Most were on about 5.8 to 6.8 and 100L+ boards. As it turned out I was well powered up while the wind lasted but that was not for long but probably as long as unfit as I am at present having not sailed properly for months.
There were waves on the inside so excitement could be had (even by me) surfing in on the waves for quite a long way.
The water is getting cold but the air temperature seemed warm and pushing 10c. So if the weather conditions are right give in to temptation and get out there. All in all I enjoyed the day and I think most people had a better day than they would have doing the alternatives. Reiner and Trudy turned up to say hello but Reiner did not sail.

Sat 24 Jan - Hadston, boat ramp end (report 2) - Ross Ketteridge
As I write this there are ten guys around Northumbria with smiles so wide they may be permanent by the end of this evening. By the way, Tim, I dont mean to steal your thunder - I didnt realise that youd done a report already (thanks for that by the way) but I may as well post mine too.
Today served up, quite frankly, an unexpectedly superb quality sailing session. We were getting a bit nervous as it approached since all weather forecasts were determined that it would be a westerly wind and perhaps not a strong one at that. Even worse, it was due to swing from W to WNW, so there was a very real chance of ending up in a dead offshore wind. There was talk of gusty, offshore winds and the prospect of big sails and formula boards. How wrong we were.
As I drove to Druridge Bay my car thermometer told me it was 6.5 degrees. If the same gauge is to be believed, it never got higher, despite the glorious all-day sunshine in a clear blue sky. As I drove, Andy called me from the beach and said it was 6.5m weather. My singing grew louder. As I turned onto the dune road I was met with the delicious sight of a thoroughly white capped North Sea. And as a bonus, there was obviously some un-forecast south in the wind as it was cross-off shore, but mainly cross. There were no waves, so we were in for a free ride session par excellence. As usual the wind was stronger on the water so I chose 4.7m and plugged it into my 95lt. That was pretty much the form of the day, with the bigger boys getting towards 6m but everyone sailed a sinker. And everyone was flying.
I joined Steve C, Andy, Steve B, Barnesy, Ray and Tim at the start of the session, and enjoyed fully powered blasting for a good hour. Later, our numbers were expanded to an amazing (given the date and the temperature!) ten sailors by the arrival of Alistair, Tony C and Adrian.
The latter three missed the very best of it as it was starting to lull by the time they hit the water, but as Alistair very astutely noted, on a day like this, even a small dose is a good dose, especially if you havent sailed for a month.
As Tim mentioned, apart from the excellent windsurfing, it was just a great day since everyone had the I LOVE windsurfing! vibe running through his veins. To cap off a marvellous outing, the tide, flooding since 11am, had shortened the walk back to the dunes to just a few metres at the end of the day. I look forward to seeing the pics that Kelly had taken with her new (and very long!) lens, as it must have been a great day for photography.
It was certainly a great day for windsurfing.

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